A Break From Boredom

Copyright © 2004 by Lance Nalley

 

My first job out of high school was leveling land on a thousand acre dairy farm in the high desert of Southern California. Six days a week I ran a caterpillar 613 paddlewheel scraper out in the middle of nowhere all by myself. I bounced back and forth or round and round on that machine all day long filling in the low spots and knocking down the high spots in dry dusty fields that were to be irrigated and planted in silage corn or alfalfa hay for the 500 head of Holsteins that occupied the ranch.

Besides the heat, the wind, and the dust, boredom was the worst aspect of the job. The highlight of my day was noon when I could take my lunchbox and drive over to meet my high school buddy, Calvin, under a tree for lunch. He worked at the dairy feeding cows, irrigating and cutting hay. We were both glad to have a little conversation after being stuck in the cab of a tractor all morning hearing nothing but the rattle of a diesel engine. We talked about guns and girls, jeeps and hunting. And, we listened to the country music radio station during the short thirty minute reprieve from the tedium of our jobs.

Calvin and I collected guns and reloaded our own ammunition in a workshop at his parentís house. We experimented with different loads for varmint hunting and there was plenty of opportunity to test them in the remote areas of the ranch. Our pickups had well equipped gun racks in the back windows and our cross-bed tool boxes were always well stocked with ammunition. I took to carrying a rifle on the scraper with me most of the time so I could take a shot at a coyote or a ground squirrel whenever the opportunity presented itself. The coyotes were our favorite prey and shooting them was encouraged by the owners of all the ranchers in the area. As a matter of fact, the sheep rancher across the dry bed of the San Jacinto River would pay $20.00 for every coyote tail I brought him. But mostly the coyotes were something for me to look for while I was driving around in circles in the dusty fields.

The summers in the high desert can be blistering hot with temperatures reaching well above one hundred degrees in the late afternoon, but the mornings are usually relatively cool. During the hottest part of the year I would often try to start work as soon as it was light enough to see so that I could escape the hot, dry afternoon wind. Everyday, like clock work, at about two oíclock in the afternoon it began blowing down the valley from the mountains. It seemed to channel itself right down the sandy, dry bed of the San Jacinto River which ran right through my place of employment. The dust rose from the fields daring me to breath and the sand flew through the air at a rate of speed that made it impossible to open your eyes at times.

Originally, my job was only supposed to last a few months, but two years later I was still moving the high ground into the low ground as I worked toward having every acre of land on the ranch leveled. 

One cool summer morning the sky promised a scalding afternoon as I plodded back and forth next to the levy of the river bed. The sky was clear and blue, not the hint of a cloud was to be seen. The air was still and the dust rose slowly as the big tires on the machine rolled through the ruts of my haul road. There was no movement in the fields, no coyotes to snipe at, not even a crow could be seen. I stopped the scraper and stepped down to the dry earth and pulled my water jug from behind the seat, opened it and tilted it back to drink. 

As I drew on the cool water I heard the whirring of an airplane engine over the slow rattle of the idling diesel beside me and I looked up to see a brightly painted bi-plane fly over me at very low altitude. It was canary yellow with a red target painted on the side. It flew by so closely that I could see the pilotís head protruding from the top of the fuselage. As I watched it fly away I noticed another plane much like the first flying toward me from the direction in which the first plane was headed. It too flew past me at a very low altitude and close enough for me to clearly see its markings. It was bright red with a black German cross painted on its side. The two planes flew away in opposite directions and I went back to my water.

A few seconds later I heard the sound of approaching airplanes again and looked up to see both planes descending upon me from opposite directions at an altitude low enough that I could have thrown a rock and hit them. Their parallel paths converged directly above me and I craned my neck to watch them whiz by. Just after passing me, both planes ascended into a vertical climb until each stalled and fell backward toward the earth as they released white smoke, creating a trail down from their highest point. Each plane righted itself as it tumbled downward and headed back toward me and crossed directly overhead again, heading in opposite directions. The planes proceeded to ascend into a loop and back down leaving behind a trail of white smoke. Both planes then made u-turns and headed back toward me. They crossed over my head again and the red plane flew up into a stall again falling back toward the earth with a trail of smoke following, as the other plane made another loop. Both planes flew over my head again, turned and joined in a side by side flight into the horizon.

I stood in awe during the entire display. I was the only person for a mile in any direction; no one else had witnessed this event but the pilots and me. These two strangers in antique airplanes must have seen me standing there in the middle of that deserted field and decided to show off their skills, and give me a treat that few people ever receive. I felt very special and privileged to have received this favor. It had been my own private air show.

I think of that day and I wonder how often this kind of thing happens each day. How often does someone look around them and see an opportunity to make a stranger feel better about the day. Not as often as it used to, I would guess. How much better the world would be if people looked for these opportunities and took advantage of them when they appeared. But, in the hustle and bustle modern America we are compelled to look for every opportunity to get ahead. And, getting ahead necessarily entails getting ahead of someone else. We squeeze past others on the freeway, and we finagle our way ahead of others at the grocery store.

And, we really donít have much choice. In this age of fierce competition for every scrap with any value, one is pushed down and under unless one fights everyday for his fair share. This is what I tire of, and this is why I look back at that day in that dusty field with nostalgia: because I was given, without paying or even asking for it, a gift that relieved me of that fight for one day and gave me the sense again that there is good in the world.

Written by: Lance Nalley 
lancenalley@msn.com
  

Links to the book excerpts by this author  

An Old Man's Dreams   Little Johnny Knox, Three Time Looser   Looking Back    From Fear To Freedom, The Story of a Changed Mind

Discover these great essays in the following folders
  Family  * Social  * War  *  Freedom  *  Money  * 

And then, we have these essays in the GENERAL ESSAYS category which don't seem to fit anywhere in particular:

By Reason Alone..  That Roosevelt can do no wrong is Burroughs's opinion; and that Burroughs is always right is Roosevelt 's opinion.  Both are agreed that animals do not reason.  They assert that all animals below man are automatons and perform actions only of two sorts 'mechanical and reflex 'and that in such actions no reasoning enters at all.  They believe that man is the only animal capable of reasoning and that ever does reason.

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No man is an island, is an old saying that was meant to say that no man stood alone, but needed help from others, and gave strength to others.  But, here is the story of an island that was a man.  In the short history of time, there was one island that was a monument to a single man.  It starts out like a fairy tale.. Once upon a time there was a barren island.    This almost insignificant little man was sent off to this barren island and turned it into a mirror of his soul and the fulfillment of his vision.  One stick at a time he turned his barren island into a work of lasting, world-renowned beauty and peace, an island where the nightingales sang songs of singular wonder ne'er found elsewhere since this little man set down roots on a barren island, and bloomed. 

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Have you ever noticed that most of man's dreams are based on false assumptions. We dream of loping free with the wolves, but really don't like fleas. We dream of the security that lambs must feel, but don't want to be sheared. We dream of being lions, but gag at eating raw meat. We dream of being loved, but can't see the way or take the time to make ourselves lovable.

Was There EVER A Man On The Moon?  How far can reason alone take us from the beaten path of acknowledged history?

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A Definition Of History by Leo Tolstoy gives us yet another peg to hang our ratiocinations upon.

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Definition of Art?

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Charity never faileth, especially when our hearts fill to overflowing with charity.

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When Theories fail.. Petty science teachers can rage until doomsday that no two snowflakes are identical, but until every snowflake that has ever fallen or ever shall fall is matched against every other snowflake that has already fallen or ever shall try to fall -- the identical snowflake theory remains just a theory resting on its oars out there in lolly-gagging land.

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Deliberate Fraud:  Evolutionists resort to the lowest forms of fraud in order to gain more believers. Down and Dirty with Darwin  Evolutionists are now feeling so battered that university professors advise their students not to discuss this theory with non-believers.  "Sounds like a religious cult to me," say some.

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Global Warming freezes thermometers 57 years ago there was this silly theory running through the kitchen that said "the quickest way to freeze ice was to fill the ice trays with boiling water. There are still a few old house wives that believe it works. These days it's the pseudo-scientists that believe global warm winds tearing through the polar regions will make the ice caps freeze solid and start a new ice age!

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Man, the Meanie of the Planet.  This is a high resolution pdf document so you can print it out and hang it on the wall.  Be sure to RIGHT Click the link, and save it to your computer.

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Fuzzy Logic Clarified This is another essay you will want to keep handy where you can print it out.

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Are we forever Doomed?  An essayic poem by Rudyard Kipling

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I see Grandpa. He's calling out for me.

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God Does Not Fit  -- by Lance Nalley

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That first day of school  

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A Break From Boredom  --  by Lance Nalley

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INVICTUS... Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit, from pole to pole 

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The gods and Heroes of the Ancient World 

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Staunch, steadfast, loyal and true.  What better friend can a man have?

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The House By The Side Of The Road

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Friendship, by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  A ruddy drop of manly blood The surging sea outweighs, The world uncertain comes and goes, The lover rooted stays. I fancied he was fled, And, after many a year, Glowed unexhausted kindliness Like daily sunrise there. My careful heart was free again, -- O friend, my bosom said, Through thee alone the sky is arched, Through thee the rose is red, All things through thee take nobler form, And look beyond the earth, And is the mill-round of our fate A sun-path in thy worth. Me too thy nobleness has taught To master my despair; The fountains of my hidden life Are through thy friendship fair.

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This Web is MY Web  

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A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
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The Moon on Six Pence Uncle Bob was an unforgettable character who traveled the world on bargain rates and golden smiles!

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The Almost Good Housekeeping monograph is a good excuse for the harried homemaker to put off until tomorrow all those burdens of yesteryear, and quit trying so hard.

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Sex before the Sax:  The first thing I learned about Lois was she had a label for being froward.  Kids at school said she had had sex with Alfred.  Not long after I arrived, another boy came forward to admit he had made a score at her door.

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Old Rattler, and the King Snake. 

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Pleasures of the open fire: The Fireplace Revisited.

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