Remember me one of your lovers of dreams ― Carl Sandburg
Waking at four a.m. to walk 250 cows from the pasture to
the barn for their morning milking was my daily chore
on a dairy farm in Cherry Valley. I was spending the
summer with Donna, my sister, and her husband. He’d take
me out in the field on the tractor for the rest of the day.
He taught me how to drive the tractor as I rode along.
He had me steering long before he taught me how to
operate it. I knew how to start the ignition, how to shift
gears, how to use the throttle, how to use the brakes.
One afternoon he stopped cultivating the corn, and then
asked me if I would run back to the barn, drive a tractor
parked there back to him. So I ran across the field and
down the dirt and gravelly road that wound its way back
into the barn. I climbed on the tractor and drove it back to
him. He climbed on and asked me to return the tractor
he was using back to the barn. I did but I wanted to see
how fast it could go, so I shifted it into high gear, racing
it back. On a 45 degree turn the tractor balanced up on
two wheels around the corner, then fell back down on all
four wheels, as I drove it safely back into the barn. In the
evening, and for the remainder of the summer, my driving
privileges were suspended. Some older farm boys taught
me to play baseball in their backyard. Throwing wild
fastballs, the pitcher hit me in the forehead. I felt dazed,
and had a knot over my eye the size of a goose egg. It’s the
only injury I suffered that summer. And at seven I never
dreamed about playing baseball or driving a tractor.
If the tractor tipped over it might have killed me. I enjoyed
playing pony league ball, played center field in the Marine
Corps, a turning point. Health held me hitless. My left kidney
failed and was removed by doctors. As I recovered
I began waking at night, writing poems. Writing
poems became my real FIELD OF DREAMS dream.