It was time for spring cleaning around the Rondarosa, which seems to always start with a ton of limbs, twigs and branches that have fallen during the winter.
For the past several years as the climate varies between too much rain and drought conditions, the trees have suffered terribly. A few huge oaks have uprooted while others gave up the ghost by breaking in half and falling over.
Chester, who helps us occasionally with such tasks, was burning the pieces of trees while I was picking them up, loading them into the trunk of a little cart and backing up the cart to the hot fire. After two days of back-breaking work, I was tired and discouraged.
I looked around at all the work left to do and thought, “How will we ever get all of this done?”
In a blink of an eye, I knew what I had to do.
“I’ll be back in a bit,” I said to Chester.
Then I jumped into the cart and flew off to the house. I walked through the bedroom’s French doors and found Tink sitting up in bed, writing furiously on a script.
Tink learned writing in bed from me. I have done that for many years, often taking my morning’s cup of coffee and laptop to bed and writing for a couple of hours. Then I crawl out and get dressed for the day. Honestly, it is always my best writing because it occurs before the problems of the day can tackle and distract me.
“Hi baby,” he said, looking up from his laptop.
I was a sight to behold. Soot from the fire smudged my face, my hair was pulled back into a disheveled ponytail and the T-shirt four sizes too big for me had three little holes in the front. I wasn’t, as my friend, Karen, and I like to say, “purdy.”
I put my hands on my hips and looked at him seriously.
“I’m goin’ to buy a tractor,” I said.
“Now?” he exclaimed.
“You can’t buy a tractor without me!” he said. “That’s taking my manhood away.”
“I told you to buy one two months ago,” I said. “We’ve got work to do and we can’t do it without a tractor.”
Tink, in fairness, had gone to the tractor place to see our friend, Kabe Cain.
He returned and said, “Kabe and I have it narrowed now, but you need to look because you’re going to be driving it, too. Kabe said we need a bigger one than we thought.”
“Well, if that’s what Kabe said, do it,” I said. “He doesn’t oversell. He’s very honest.”
This goes against advice I’ve given in my books, but I’ll be honest: I did not wash the soot from my face, smooth my hair or change my shirt. A farmer ain’t got time for lookin’ purdy.
“I’m goin’ now. I’ll be back in a few minutes,” I said.
I picked up my pocket book, walked out the door, climbed in Tink’s pickup truck and drove two miles to the tractor store.
I will pause here to comment: Something’s wrong with this picture when the husband is sitting in bed writing a television series for Hallmark and the wife is out buying the tractor. Or, perhaps there is something very right with it.
Kabe Cain walked out of his office and saw the sorry sight sitting in one of his rockers.
“Kabe, you’re the only person I’d let see me looking like this,” I said.
He threw back his head and laughed.
“You’re just as pretty as always,” he said.
Within 15 minutes of that opening line by a smart salesman, I bought our tractor with a front loader, a blade and a bush hog.
Tink was writing sentimental dialogue for a romantic scene when I returned.
“Well?” he asked.
“Done. It’ll be delivered tomorrow.”
It’s a little odd, but it’s romance done Rondarosa-style. It works for us.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “What Southern Women Know.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.