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My Big Green Tractor

I witnessed the coolest thing today. I’ll bring in a writing application in a bit, but this is a great story in its own right.

My day job responsibilities include the production of sales and promotion materials for a farm equipment manufacturer. In other words, I market plows. Well, this day I traveled out to a customer’s farm to get some video of this particular unit in operation. Since I was going anyway, I carried some parts they had on order to save them a trip. When I pulled up in the field, Brad, the farmer, came over and we made introductions.

He told me his young son had, a number of times, watched a DVD we distribute and was excited I was coming out to his place to make a movie. As he spoke, in fact, a truck pulled up bearing Brad’s son and grandfather. The grandfather drove, of course.

His son (circa five years old) wasn’t feeling well and had stayed home from school. I could tell the little fellow felt poorly, and was shy as well. Brad let him come out anyway, and I’m glad he did.

They climbed on that green John Deere tractor with the youngster in the cab, perched on the buddy seat. They raised and lowered the plow and dragged it back and forth in the field while I shot video and took stills.  After an hour or so it was time for lunch and I had all the video I needed, so he parked the tractor. As he did, I shot a photo of them both on that tractor.

After they climbed down again, son in his dad’s arms, I asked the young man what kind of music he liked.

He turned into Brad’s embrace, shy again. “My Big Green Tractor,” he replied.

It’s a popular country song, I determined with a Google search.

Then his dad asked him what he liked again.

A pause. “Guns.”

His dad grinned. “No, he wants to know what music you like.”

Grab a hanky.

“Jesus Loves Me,” he half-whispered.

Brad smiled.

They went on to lunch and I volunteered to take the parts to their shop in town instead of unloading the heavy items on their truck. It would keep them from having to handle the things twice, the shop was on my way, and it would help customer relations. My back is sore.

When I pulled up to their property, I found several houses where family units live in close proximity and a couple barns. On one a sign declared this to be the “____ Family Farm,” and listed the founder and several descendants. The young man’s great grandfather’s name appeared with the descendants.

I dropped off the parts, headed home, and mulled all this over. You might say I ruminated, but maybe that was only the beans I had for lunch.

We encounter people daily and get insights into their lives, sometimes less, sometimes more. As writers we can tap into these experiences and borrow from them for inspiration.

What about the lives of this family can we infer from these bits of information? Here are just a few assumptions I made.

The son loves his dad, and vice versa. He loves tractors, I suspect through association with his dad and great grandfather. His family promotes a spiritual component in their lives. The family is close, tight-knit.

What questions do these elements raise? What about mom? Grandfather? When did the family settle here? What obstacles did they face? What joys, what tragedies? What story could we weave around the smattering of things we know?

These encounters are gifts to us, as human beings and writers. Treasure them; store them; draw upon them.

p.s. This young man is going to receive a DVD featuring a picture of him with his dad on the face. I wonder what two songs to put in the video’s background?

Categories: writing Tags: , ,
  1. May 31, 2010 at 4:35 am

    This is so true, Joe. Writers must be great observers, but more than that, we are blessed with meeting such memorable individuals.


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