Site Meter Peculiar Susceptibility: Natasha, my tractor

Monday, May 26, 2008

Natasha, my tractor

Natasha, about whom I only feel very slightly guilty for calling the best dog ever, loved moving rocks.

Natasha, swamp monster

Within the first year we had Natasha we began to become concerned that hunters might mistake her for a deer - the way she moved through the woods, bounding and leaping over fallen trees, stone walls; the color of her coat, that kind of tawny caramel - and so we tied surveyors tape to her collar.

The dogs who come to live with my parents have quite the life - there's a large property with hills, streams, swamps, and obstacles of all sorts around which for them to roam. There's a menagerie of other animals with which they can play (sometimes this playing is more savage than others. To wit, in their first year with us the puppies killed Nora's bunny Jack. At some point the dogs killed a cat they found in the swamp - although, our parents only admitted this to us about a decade after the fact. And then there was the Great Bullfrog (Jerky) Massacre of 1997-2003. The dogs particularly enjoyed catching the big bullfrogs that lived in the swamp the beavers left behind. They would kill them, bring them up to the yard, let them dry for a few days, and then nomnomnom on them.)

One of Natasha's favorite, and most peculiar, pastimes was to run up the hill in the woods and hunt rocks. Big rocks. Rocks that were underground. In another life, she might have been an expert truffle hunter, but as it was she lived with us and found us rocks. She would sniff them out, dig them up, and push them down the hill with her snout so that the yard was often littered with rocks bigger than her head.

More often than not, you'd find Natasha in the yard licking and gnawing on one of her rocks.

tashi run 1
She's covered with rocks now. I know it serves a practical purpose - we wouldn't want anyone digging her up - but I like the literal inversion of the tables, her beneath and them above. Weight pressing down and up. I visit here at the end of my runs and walks and hikes, some awkward demi-Heathcliff.  (Don't worry - I don't actually exhume her.)

I know that there are many practical reasons my parents had for wanting a tractor - leveling and repositioning land for the riding ring, driveway maintenance, others that don't come to mind - but I like to think that they were inspired by Natasha's tireless rearranging of large rocks to do the same.

My parents went "tractor shopping" on every weekend for at least a year. It was part of what they do together as a couple. They have a whole routine of morning errands that usually incorporate feeding the bunnies at my mom's daycare center, picking up the paper from the general store, buying food for all the animals, and (at that point) tractor shopping.

During this tractor shopping year, my parents became increasingly convinced that I should marry the tractor salesman. It always kind of mystified me that they were seeing the same tractor salesman with such regularity that they could decide that he'd make a good son-in-law. But there you have it, they're very particular shoppers, my parents. They also have a penchant for selecting spouses for their children - the tractor salesman for me, the horse dentist (or, anyway, it's some man who has an equally esoteric equine-related job) for Nora, some linguist on TV for Patrick. They're regular Mrs. Bennets, my parents.

The urge to wed me off seems to have subsided along with the actual purchase of the tractor. They seem to be delighted by (in possession of minor injuries following) tractoring. To me, it seems as though they just move things around recreationally (although, arguably, my parents have a very labor-centered notion of recreation). (In full disclosure, I should admit to a deep abhorrence for lawn equipment dating back to the time in middle school that Sandy Mann showed me the toe he mowed off his foot. So, it's quite possible, I suppose, that the moving of things my parents do with the tractor is totally necessary, but that I am just too undereducated in the ways of lawn equipment to understand what's going on.)

At any rate, I prefer to think of the tractor as a kind of homage to Natasha.

In addition to being one of my favorite things to watch, this video shows rocks, do-it-yourself construction projects, and Natasha with surveyors tape.


betsy q. bramble said...

There are hunters in your woods?

Maybe the rocks tasted salty. If Natasha looked like a deer, maybe had deer tendencies, you know deer love salt.

From graceful deer, to bounding dog, to jerky tractors. And back again?

Meghan Maguire Dahn said...

I know. I'm all over the place on this one, but in my own mind it seems really cohesive.

betsy q. bramble said...

it is in my own mind as well! i am speaking of the circle of life!

iiiiinnn the cirrrrrrrcle, the circle of..LIIIIFE!

lowbrow said...

Congratulations on snagging William Hurt as the narrator, that's high quality production values for a do-it-yourself construction video.

Meghan Maguire Dahn said...

That's our dear friend Bob Cook. He had such a great voice.

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