Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Barbed Wire and a Box Turtle

Barbed Wire and a Box Turtle
by Brenda Black

The great gulf between man and woman has once more been confirmed. The evidence was collected in a field study in which I personally participated. While millions floated on lake barges or sipped cool drinks beach side this past holiday weekend, I worked alongside my husband shuffling cattle to different pastures and erecting a barbed wire fence. The nearest body of water was a moss-covered pond and our icy cool drink came from a shared, insulated jug.

After man-handling panels, prodding cattle and bouncing in the cab of a 4-wheel drive truck over washed out gravel roads and through bumpy pastures, I thought my workout sufficient for the weekend. But the husband had other things in mind and to the farm we went for a second day of it. No sand warmed my toes, but shoulder high fescue did tickle my nose. We waded, tromped and drudged through tall grasses and tiptoed past thorn trees over and over as we unrolled wire for the project.

We actually worked quite efficiently together and I enjoyed our time away from typical work and phones and kids. I even merited the Memorial Day sunburn like all those lake visitors. And rather than dip into the waves for a cooling reprieve, I ducked under a big old locust tree and was cooled quite adequately by a gentle breeze.

My hubby's expert fence building was impressive. He measured and marked and marched up and down that taught, wire line over and over to get it near perfect. Sometimes I waited, ready to hand a hammer or fish out a fence clip or post steeple. Other times I watched for slippage as he loosened the come-along and finished wrapping the corner posts with steely thread. My biggest job was shouldering half the load of a roll of wire and walking the line side by side with my beloved. Of course, Alan bore the heaviest chores in every regard, but I carried my weight. So throughout the day, out of concern, he kept asking, “Are you okay?” To which, I would answer in the affirmative.

On one of the unrolling trips with a few hundred feet less of a load, I noticed a tortoise in the smashed path where we had driven the truck a half dozen times already that day. Without dropping my end of the bar that skewered the wire spool, I transferred the heavy load to my left hand and with my right scooped up Mr. Turtle, then continued on to the end post. I knew his shelled armor was no match for the big truck tires that surely would crush him with our next pass. I also was keenly aware that the man on the other end of that iron bar was practicing extreme patience with my side-tracked mission. He never said a word and did not ridicule my childish concerns. We placed the wire roll and bar down on the ground and I ushered my turtle friend across the drive and headed him another direction, then returned to my post ready to supply whatever tool necessary.

I'm guessing based on past experience, that Alan never would have noticed that little critter whose protective coat color matched the grasses through which it traveled. But he did notice that it mattered to me that I protect it. Throughout the day, I noticed our different approaches to many other things. At fence building, I wanted efficiency so I worked ahead untangling clips and anticipating the next tool needed for the task. He wanted perfection and plunked wires as if tuning a guitar just like his dad taught him. He wore long sleeves. I rolled my t-shirt up and out of the way. He could hoist the heavy stuff and I organized all the little things. He was wholly focused on only the work at hand and my mind drifted, wondering how long were those thorns or how long since anyone fished in that pond. And, by God's design, our differences worked harmoniously all day long.

“[Wives] your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.” Good thing because I was wearing soiled shirt and jeans and smelled quite un-lady-like “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4) Gently holding a turtle does counts.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner...” I'm sure we went at a slower pace hauling that wire than if either of my strong sons were holding the opposite end from their father. “... and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Pet. 3:7) No fussing all day meant no reason to have to apologize later.

At the end of a hot, but rewarding day, six strands were up and a turtle saved. More importantly were the words we exchanged in an air-conditioned truck ride home. “Thank you for helping me today,” he said to me. “You were great help and made the job go so much easier and quickly.” And I replied, “I enjoyed working by your side.” Then we kissed, still sweaty and filthy. But knowing my man, I bet that didn't bother him one bit.

**Cowboy Pete has ridden into town! Purchase your copy of Brenda's latest release, a hardcover, full color, glossy child's story book about Cowboy Pete and his pony Apple Dumplin' at new release special pricing by visiting www.thewordsout-brendablack.com

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