Y’all be careful now

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

Farm life is wonderful, but you must be careful. That fact was brought home to us last week. Hank, our 18-year-old great-nephew who has lived on a 1000-acre farm all his life and was driving tractors at age 6, was emptying a grain bin when his jeans leg was caught in an auger sweeper machine. A well-intentioned farm hand launched himself against the sweeper, while another farm resident turned the machine off. Hank was air lifted to Vanderbilt where they performed surgery and is now doing well.

Awhile back I was taking my daily walk when I ran into a tree, literally. I’d turned to look back at our house, took a big step forward and slammed into a tree limb. I cut my eyelid and required 6 stitches. It not only hurt, but it gave me a black eye. I was so interested in seeing something that I didn’t see what was right in front of me.

Years ago, a pregnant me decided to cut across our cow pasture to save some steps to the house. Because I’d fed those cows, they came looking for their food. Gentle nudging ensued, but a gentle nudge by two huge Brown Swiss cows could easily have sent me tumbling, possibly endangering our unborn baby.

Dan once got his tractor stuck and decided to pull it out by attaching a cable from the tractor to a truck. My father was driving the truck when suddenly all the tension was gone. The cable had snapped, whipped around and almost hit Dan.

Near misses, unintended consequences, looking but not seeing. To quote John Bradford, a 16th Century Protestant clergyman, “There but for the grace of God go I,” or as Dan Arp’s been known to quip, “Do Not Ready, Fire, Aim!”

We all have these war stories. When the ending is harmless, they make great stories, but they are also reminders that we are all masters of our own fate. Anyone can be oblivious, careless or forgetful of possible outcomes. It’s good to be reminded every now and again of the disaster a moment can bring. At the end of the week, I used to tell my students, “Be safe, be careful and make good choices.”

I’m going to try to remember that this week. Hope y’all do too.

Cindy Arp retired from Knox County Schools as a teacher and librarian. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell. And she goes hiking once a week – even in a forest fire.


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