Recently a storm blew through Darke County that the local weather affiliates categorized as a land hurricane. Most would have called this storm a straight-line wind, possibly a tornado, or severe thunderstorm, but in rural Ohio we make up names for just about everything. Some examples: sweetcorn teeth, popcorn fart, road apples, and my favorite adjective—confusement.
I only wish we would have gone the extra mile and named our land hurricane like the professionals do. We have an overabundance of Shane’s around home, so, let’s call it Land Hurricane Shane.
When Shane came through our farm, it downed trees, scattered things I should have put up, and blew shingles off our roof.
I weathered Shane alone with only a few domestic beers and pint of moonshine while my wife and kids were off gallivanting someplace, as they normally do (she was at work and the kids were staying with their grandparents).
When Shane took his leave I was left with a train wreck outside and a mushy brain from too many inebriants. I thought watching limbs and shingles fall from the sky like snow had to be more fun while sipping white lightning and chasing it with beer.
Mostly I cried though. Even through the foggy haze of alcohol I knew what had to be done in the morning. Clean up in the middle of a heat wave.
I knew it was going to be hotter than the hinges of hell the next day. I also knew that I’m only one man and the sheer possibilities of completing the clean up alone in one weekend would be nearly impossible.
Where would my wife and kids be while I toiled away, you might wonder? Off gallivanting (Too hot outside for a pregnant wife and two kids under the age of four would be more work than help outside, unless I set up a television outside with Bob the Builder playing).
I called Dad immediately.
Dad: “Hello. Bet you’re calling for my unique skill set in storm debris removal.”
Dad: “I’ve got a lot going on tomorrow, but I’ll be there at seven. Make sure you’re up. We got a lot of work to do.”
He didn’t have anything going on; in fact, I’ll wager he was rubbing his hands together like some bridge troll when Shane blew by. He knew the call would come and, as usual, I’d be desperate and dateless.
Calling in Dad for help is similar to inking a deal with the devil. I called my brother to even up the odds.
The next day:
Dad started out of the blocks like Usain Bolt. He hopped on his Massey Ferguson tractor/loader (don’t judge, we’re not wealthy and can’t afford John Deere) and began pushing trunks and limbs as if the Massey was a Caterpillar bulldozer.
Five minutes later:
Hydraulic line on Massey severed. Mechanical failure.
Root cause: using tractor like Cat D-6 dozer and not the intended application of pulling and lifting.
Lesson learned: you can pound a screw into a 2×4, but a nail works much better.
Two hours later:
My brother and I are soaked in sweat from actual manual labor. Dad arrives back on the job site with items for repair and fixes the tractor.
Dad takes off on the Massey with the engine bouncing against the governor. If machines could cry, I’m relatively sure the Massey did.
Dad spots a plump and juicy tree trunk just begging to be moved out of the way. He motions my brother and me over (he screams at the top of his lungs for us get the hell over there).
I survey the situation. My brother surveys the situation. We don’t like what we see. From the tractor seat while guzzling down a sweat tea Dad says: “What are you waiting for, snow to fly in hell, hook the damn thing up so I can pull it away.”
“But Dad, it’s covered in Poison Sumac,” I say like a thirty-five-year-old man.
“So. Nobody gets Poison Sumac anymore,” he says. “Hook it up.”
We do as we’re told.
Three days and two shots of prednisone later my brother and I are itching between pulls of our beers. Around each eye is massive red swelling and on our arms are bloody lesions from prior itching sessions.
My brother looks up from his beer and says: “Nobody gets Poison Sumac anymore.”
“Nope. They sure don’t,” I say.