Monday, April 2, 2018

Ground Hog's Day

I had a principal once at school who happily told me about his Ground Hog Day: "I slept in, then went out for breakfast, played 18 holes of golf, went home and took a nap, played another 18 holes of golf, then went out for dinner and had a few beers with my wife and some friends.  I'd do that every day if I could."

While I think a day like that sounds more like Dante's Purgatorio (My son and I used to play one round of golf a year- nine holes and he had more fun driving the cart than anything), he was referring to the Bill Murray movie of the same name, in which Bill Murray's character must relive the same day- in his case Ground Hog's Day in Punxatawney, PA- over and over again. 

My Facebook feed reminded me today that April 2, 2010 is my Ground Hog's Day.  It was Good Friday and I was off from school and starting spring break.  Dulcy at Tillers had asked if I would like to help plow "a couple of gardens in Kalamazoo."

Dulcy, Joshua (a then-new intern), and I loaded up Hershel and Walker, an Oliver 99 plow and drove 20 minutes or so to the Western Michigan University campus for garden #1- A community garden for WMU students. 

After a short talk, we got to plowing, and soon discovered that the former building site was less than ideal for a garden.  The ground was hard and varied greatly (hard to rock hard, with old foundation debris scattered throughout), but the people were very friendly, they had snacks and music, and the weather was chilly, but sunny.  A local TV news crew was on site and somewhere there's a tape of me wrestling that plow into and out of the ground from the 11:00 PM news. 

From there, we headed across town and a world away.  Dulcy had made arrangements to plow a community garden in a small vacant lot on Kalamazoo's north side.  The neighborhood was, and is, quite poor.  I had volunteered at a Headstart program on Kalamazoo's north side when I was in college at WMU, so I was generally familiar with the neighborhood. 

When we got there, we had to parallel park on the street, as that was the only parking available.  We yoked the team tied to the back of the trailer and walked them down half a block to the lot, with someone wheeling the plow on the guide wheel down the street. 

By this time, it was early afternoon and a sunny 65 degrees, so nearly everyone in the neighborhood was out enjoying the day.  Needless to say, we drew a crowd. 

For the next three hours, we turned the soil, chatted with the parade of people who stopped by- a notable number of whom simply stopped their cars, still running, in the street and jumped out to "get a picture of them bulls!"- and introduced a number of kids to the oxen and the walking plow.  One of my new friends kept coming back and eventually made five furrows with me at the plow.  With the chaos of the event: the people, a cement truck literally next door, the cars and bicycles, we decided it was best to have Dulcy do all of the driving- she's a master teamster, so I was the plowboy all afternoon. 

By the time we were done, the organizers felt like old friends and we wished we could stay a little longer. 

As much as I like working oxen by myself and plowing with one other person, I really enjoy teaching new people about them.  That brings me the most joy.  Give me every day like that and I'll be more than happy.

What's your perfect day with "them bulls?"

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