The sun is shining this morning after many dark days. It sets
the heart right again, somehow, and what seemed like an impossible
taskwriting this columnwill probably turn to be a joy. We have had
heavy rains and now things will really grow. My house-flies are
holding their congregational meetings on the backs of my dining
room chairs where the sun strikes their varnished surface, and I am
in the fly slaughter business in between words.
But another thing that makes my heart glad is the nice clean
garden I have this year. My steam-engine husband attended an
auction this spring and acquired a steaming pan there. One day,
late in May, the two of us moved it into our garden spot and went
to work. After it was all over with I pondered the thought that it
might have been less work to have hoed it all summer. But this was
only a first reaction as I fell into bed that night.
But who was I to complain? My husband had spent a whole day
watching Louie Trapp steam tobacco beds somewhere west of Columbus.
It had been a day of needed relaxation to him and the benefits
would be mostly mine so who was I to complain? Right? (A fly on my
trembling typewriter. He fell dead in the carriage. Now one
circling my head.) The fact of the matter was that we should have
had a third person help us move the pan around after each thirty
minute session, but Dan and the hired hand were busy too. So we
struggled and pulled over about fourteen sets of the pan.
For those of you who don’t know what a pan is I shall
explain. It is an inverted shallow metal pan, heavy, and large.
This one is attached to wheels and a clever method of lowering it
to the ground is utilized. Then comes the work for the shoveler.
‘Bank the edges, Lady,’ were my instructions. And I will
have you know that I shoveled every shovelful of soil that day.
Alfred E. was busy with the pipes which carried the steam to the
pan. Not only that but he was worrying about a flu that had a plug
in it. So we labored parts of two days until we had covered
practically every inch of that garden. But you should see it now.
Not only did it take care of most of the weeds but it seemed to
give the garden a head start.
In case you should find a steam pan, and enough energy, it must
not be worked for a day or two after this operation as there is a
lot of moisture pushed into the soil, and we had plenty of that
this spring as it was. It seems to kill harmful organisms which may
be hiding in your soil also. In southern Wisconsin it is used only
on the seed beds for the tobacco plants. I dislike tobacco in any
form except Black Leaf Forty for killing plant lice, so, no more
comments on that.
But it seems Mr. Trapp, our instructor for this task, uses his
engine every spring for this purpose and has opportunity to give it
a good workout. We were glad to be able to do that also. You should
have seen the expression on the faces of the people who passed by
and saw steam rolling out from under a big pan at the end of each
half hour period. By then my banked edges couldn’t hold it.
So we ended our task, tired but happy, and thankful that the
plugged flu had held. Now to get busy and have the engine reflued.
For this task we had Joe Kuester, a steam man from Clintonville. He
is a gentleman who keeps himself busy doing boiler work all over
the state of Wisconsin. He is often called in to do repair work in
places where steam is used for power to run large plants. In some
cases he is so badly needed that he is flown to and from the
Mr. Kuester is part owner of two steam engines himself, a
Stevens and a Nicholas and Shepherd. So we had much to talk about
the days he worked here and I fed him at our dining room table.
When all of this excitement was ended I prepared to attend the
National Meeting of State Poetry Societies in Edmond, Oklahoma. It
was a three day session held at Central State College there. An
elderly minister rode with me and kept me well entertained with his
humorous couplets of which he has a small booklet published. We
stopped just outside of Kansas City, where our oldest daughter
lives and I found a motel room for him, and they came to Belton to
lead me into the hills to their home. They live in Kansas, and when
they go to their mailbox they are in Missouri. The next morning we
drove on to Edmond, and on the way home we repeated the
However, on the way home we had an added passenger, our
just-under-four-year-old grandson. I told him he could come along
but he had to stay in the back seat, He agreed and was real good
about the whole six hundred and fifty miles that day. A friend of
their family had fixed him a box, including, among the smalltoys,
three packages of M&M candy, a box of animal crackers, No 2
boxes, and a tablet of paper, colors and a pencil. He did same
writing, some coloring, and some eating. But he did more tearing of
paper, coloring my back, and walking on the animal crackers and
even a few M&M candies. What a mess! Now that it has stopped
raining I must scrub the back seat of the car.
So, once again, the blessings God gives us blend with the flies
which bother us, the messed up car, and the rain which seemed a bit
too much. How little we would appreciate all the joys if they came
to us without effort. There is bread to bake, a house to clean up
after all our mud, but our daughter, her husband, and two-year-old
Brian will be driving up tonight on vacation. Brett hasn’t even
mentioned his parents since he has been here. So we have that to be
thankful for too. He could have been homesick and what could we
have done? It’s a great lift, isn’t it?