First Things

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Nancy Smith

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A state highway fronts our place, giving us a long view of passing motorists. Among them these days are signs of spring as reliable as a flock of migrating geese. Motorcycle traffic, for example, increases dramatically as the weather warms. Increasingly, so do the number of antique tractors rolling down the road. These days, they no longer travel under their own power; they're chained to flat-bed trailers pulled by pickup trucks. And they're not headed for the fields; they're going to an auction or a show.

My husband, always alert to the particular sound of a pickup pulling a trailer, instinctively lifts his eyes to check every load. The other day, to his delight, he spied a rusty old Farmall on such a ride.

'It's either an M or an H,' he patiently explained to me as we gawked. 'They're hard to tell apart at a distance, you know.'

The sight stirs his blood, and soon he's made his way to the barn to twist on some of his own rusty bolts and start up his old Farmall, the '49 Cub. I stay in the garden, but I know he will cock his head and listen to the engine like a teen-ager listens to a radio song.

My husband is very ready for show season. Later that day, we got out the 2002 Steam and Gas Show Directory and an old atlas, and made some tentative plans. Like children with a Christmas mail-order catalog, we flagged about every other entry. So many shows, so little time.

On the theory that making a start is half the battle, we laid plans to begin at Zolfo Springs, Fla., where Pioneer Park Days run from Feb. 27 to March 3.

By the time you read this, Zolfo 2002 will be history, but I promise a show report for the May issue of Farm Collector. Beyond Florida, we haven't decided yet, but options abound. The 2002 show directory contains more than 1,200 listings!

It will be great fun meeting some of you, our Farm Collector readers, at the shows. Many of you have called, sent letters or e-mails, or been supportive of the magazine in other ways since I arrived, and I thank you for all your input. It helps us stay on track, and makes mail call one of the nicest times of the day around here.