It’s like a gift, this day of serene blue sky, warm afternoon sunlight, crisp air and gold-crimson colors appearing in the edges of green foliage. A perfect autumn moment.
I just want to be in awe of it for a little bit. I spend so much time indoors on a computer, reading books, in a class, working with clients or otherwise staying busy, that I need “excuses” to get outside.
So what’s a good reason to go outside? Well, some people garden. Can’t say that’s my strength. Others run a few miles, cycle a few miles more, kayak or walk or just get outdoors to exercise. Pick apples. Go fishing.
What coaxed me outside the past few days?
- A bonfire in the evening, enjoyed in the company of my husband and a friend or two. With dinner and drinks.
- Reviewing renovations to the house and plans for the yard.
- Walks downtown for hot beverages at Zumi’s and a seat along the river.
- Best of all, our weekend rock-pushing escapade.
Huh? Rock-pushing? Were we suddenly trying to re-enact Greek-mythology? Recreating the eternal act of pushing a boulder up a hill, over and over, as a punishment in the underworld, like the king of ye olden classical days, Sisyphus?
Er, no. Just because I’m in divinity school doesn’t mean we’ve suddenly decided to live out the myths and stories of many religions. Nope. This was more along the lines of continuing the good old New England tradition of harvesting rocks from your field.
A few years ago, a neighbor of ours dug a large granite boulder out of his yard. It may once have served as a front step for his home, but didn’t work in that way anymore. We wisely (or foolishly) accepted his offer to take the boulder. So it was dropped off by a bobcat at the far end of our driveway. And there it sat, summer and winter, year after year, awaiting a purpose and a place in our small yard.
More recently, Chris’s colleague Matt acquired a tractor that can lift and move large landscape features. He was sure it could handle re-positioning the granite boulder. And he enjoys opportunities to use his machine (of course).
So this past weekend, it was guys’ day with big machines in the backyard. They tried lifting it in the tractor’s bucket, but the boulder is just too big. Our friend Matt pushed it with the bucket about halfway down the drive, but that didn’t solve how to get it around the corner, up the street to the intersection of Summer and North Main Streets, where it was supposed to perch at the corner of our house.
After much problem-solving and the arrival of our other friend Just, the guys used chains to attach the boulder to the back end of the tractor, which is actually stronger. (It practically tipped the entire tractor when attached to the front bucket.) They had to tip the boulder up enough with the bucket end to wedge wooden blocks under it, lifting it off the ground, so they could run chains beneath the rock. After extended experiments, the three determined guys found a way to wrap and secure it so that the tractor could lift the boulder about 6 inches off the ground. Then Matt hauled it carefully up the street, and nudged it into place.
It was like watching tractor ballet, for goodness sake!
Between building bonfires and rock-wrestling with the help of a motorized wheeled vehicle with a lots of appendages and a powerful engine, it was like … well, yes, I’m going to just lay down a stereotype here … it seemed like “guy Nirvana.”
And you know what? I put down the textbooks, stopped outlining my paper on the story of Joseph as told in both Genesis and the Qur’an, and stepped outdoors. I was out there with the three guys, snapping photos, watching traffic, and participating from a helpful (aka, safe) distance.
By the end of the rock wrangling, we were all grinning from ear to ear. What a crazy way to spend a few hours out in the autumn sunlight! It’s a novel pastime, that’s for sure
Can’t say I expect to ever have another afternoon quite like it. But if you get the chance to move a boulder or two in your life … you just gotta do it, don’t you think?