A Pony Tail

I gunned the throttle, paddle-shifting my way off the two lane and onto the four lane that would take me to I-20 and then home. 

Not a hundred yards down the road, as I settled into sixth gear and the sweet hum of a new engine eager to cruise, I looked off to my left and saw a swirling cloud of brown dust, rising upwards in that haphazard way that is usually driven by man and machine rather than wind or storm. I hit sixty, set the cruise control, and waited to come over the little rise that obscured the architect of the dust devil. Then I saw her.

She was in her twenties if that, tanned and wearing jean shorts and a t-shirt, sunglasses against the early afternoon glare and a set of white earbuds trailing their thin cord down into her pocket. Her long blond hair was pulled back in a pony tail that could only be described as dancing. She sat astride a green John Deere lawn tractor that was jumping and bumping its way over a patch of what we in the Southland call a “yard”, but which is actually a wide patch of dry, red Georgia clay with little areas of green that pass for grass but are really ornamental weeds. Nothing unusual about cutting the grass on a tractor that could make a half-dozen passes on that size tract and call it done. Nothing at all. That was not what struck me.

She was singing at the top of her lungs. I mean singing, belting out some tune that made me wish I had a hundred-yard white cord running from a splitter that would let me in on what she was listening to. She yanked the wheel of the tractor this way and that, her head snapping at the end of her neck like white sheets on a clothesline on a windy spring day. I smiled, an involuntary reaction to such unbridled joy, seen visually for only a few seconds as I raced past her, but conjuring up pure emotion in my brain and in my heart. 

Maybe I was just primed for that little glimpse of happiness. Maybe I needed it, was looking for it, seeking it out on the side of the road. Maybe it just happened to be there, and nothing less.

I don’t know.

I do know this.

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

If you know you only have a certain amount of time left here, make that the best time you’ve ever spent on earth.

When you get the chance to have an experience, have that experience as fully and wonderfully and intensely as you possibly can.

If you have to crank up the tractor and cut the yard in a cloud of swirling red Georgia clay on a fine spring Sunday afternoon, then put the earbuds in, fire up the music you love the best, and sing out loud with it as lustily as you can, swinging ponytail and all.

You never know, my friends, who might be driving down the highway and how much you will make them smile.


Have a good week.



9 thoughts on “A Pony Tail

  1. You don’t think she was stealing the tractor, do ya Doc? Nah, I don’t either. Thanks for another good one! Rob


  2. You have such a gift with words–thank you for that mental picture. We DO only have a finite amount of time here, so why not take little chunks of time and effort and milk them for all they’re worth. May I share a story?
    I live in an area of the country that gets blizzards and shoveling snow is a fact of life, oftentimes in subzero wind chills. I could get a snowblower, but I hate the sound they make and the smell of exhaust, so I just pace myself and do it the old way with a shovel and take warm-up breaks. Last fall, on a whim, I bought a handmade yarn “hat” that looks like a viking helmet complete with stiff horns and hair that falls below my shoulders, and a thick beard and braided moustache that reach halfway to my knees. My thought was that it would keep my face warm and maybe give someone a chuckle as they drive by. The surprise was that I could not stop laughing while I was out there shoveling away. The long beard kept getting tangled in the shovel handle. Every time I threw a shovelful, the motion and the wind conspired to flip those long tendrils every which way and I had to stop and get things untangled. The blowing snow stuck to the moustache and I had to give it a flip now and again to knock the snow off. The snowplow driver honked and gave me a thumbs up. The little kids across the street were watching me from their window and laughing so loudly I could hear them from inside their house. When the chore was finally done, I leaned on my shovel to help me straighten my back and surveyed the result and thought “Well damn, that was fun!”


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