Blackberries and three point hitches

I went down to vist the old house today, to put it in order before winter comes.  We meant to do so much down there this year, and actually accomplished very little of it. So it remains what it has been since the 1930’s, a very large chicken house that was turned into a people house when the original farm house burned down.

I tidied away some of the stuff that needed to be put away.  Then I realized that there were the end of the year September blackberries still on the bushes.  So I took an old green plastic juice pitcher and went out to pick some.  These are a special kind of blackberries for me. The August ones are when the bushes are heavy with fruit, and the kids are still out of school and helping me pick.  They are the ones we pick by the bucketful, to make jam and pies.  The kids are there, eating as much as they pick, as is only right. They pick for a while and then play and then come back to picking. By the time we are finished, hands are purple and shirts and splotched and everyone is hot and sweaty and scratched. And we’ve had a wonderful day.

But the September berries are the end of the year berries, the last one on the bushes. There aren’t as many, and the kids are all back in school, so I’m alone with just the bushes and the dogs and the birds.  I think the berries taste different.  They’ve absorbed the last hot days of summer, and they are sweeter for that.  There are enough for jam, only enough to fill half the green pitcher.  These are top-of-the-oatmeal berries, eaten as they are, just tasting of blackberries and summer.  It’s peaceful to be picking them and thinking deep thoughts about nothing.

And then Fred hollers at me to come give him a hand with the pry bar.

We have a small Kubota tractor.  Not a lawn tractor, but a little farm tractor.  It has a 3 point hitch on the back.  The point of a three point hitch, the reason it exists, is that it makes it really easy to change implements.  Fred was going to take the mower off today, so we could change the blades and lube all the fittings for winter.  

But the three point hitch just wouldn’t let go.

Is there anything more frustrating than a labor-saving device that suddenly decides to suck up the whole afternoon by being stubborn? 

It was an afternoon of pry bars, levers, three-in-one oil, cotter pins, and grease.  It was an unseasonable 80-plus degrees out in the full sunlight.  Bright light and heat, two of my most unfavorite things.  But it had to be done.  Of course, we didn’t have the size of socket wrench that would have made it easier.  The manual for the tractor said to do one thing, the manual for the attachment said something else.  They both made it sound so easy. 

It wasn’t.

Finally, we got the mower unhooked from the tractor and went through the hitch, lubing all moving parts.  And then we put it all back together and it worked.

And next time we go down, we’ll replace the blades.

The funny part of it is that I had a good time.  Nothing makes me feel so competent as wrestling with something that is completely mechanical and winning.

So, tonight I have grease stained jeans, and my fingernails are even more broken than usual. 

But I’m satisfied.  And there are September blackberries to go on the breakfast oatmeal tomorrow.

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