Can tractors have souls? Absurd question, of course, but here - if God should deign to equip any piece of man’s machinery with a hereafter, the recipient would be an International 706. If metal could retain memories, if oil could lube a beating heart, then this little tractor would be the archangel of farmers everywhere.
Here she sits, at the back of my father’s machine shed beneath a lavish coat of winter dust and pigeon poop, and she isn’t cowed at all. No, not humbled even by her massive brethren or the slow air leak in her front tire. Her beautiful red paint gleams even in the chancy light; her engine is ready and waiting and . . . maybe she remembers.
But, if not, then I do. I have a heart and a soul, and I know that to ride on her fender through the chill spring daybreak was to ride straight to heaven. Wind in your hair, white-knuckled over bumps, lungs filled with a sharp crystal air like nothing I have breathed since that time - I knew, irrefutably, how alive I was.
And to be alive was good. It was blessed.
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