History tourPublished 10:15am Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Come right this way. You young ones in the back, try and keep up. Follow me as we walk down into this deep crevice. Be careful now. Step over that scar to your left. Now, all of you have a seat.
Where you are now sitting was once quite smooth. At one time it showed no signs of these fissures and smaller crevices around. Some would say it lacked character. But that was years ago.
This deep canyon, in which we are now situated, came from years of holding reins attached to a mule and later holding a steering wheel while being exposed to the sun. Notice the rough, leathery texture and the sandpaper-like surface. Reach down and feel it with your hands. Be careful; don’t skin yourself up.
Now let’s head around this thumb and head up to the small peninsula. Notice the two joints and how they hinge in one direction. It was used to hold utensils. Why, here is where the hoe fit nicely. Also, the pitchfork, the grubbing hoe, the axe, the saw and the hammer. Take a look at these three larger peninsulas. Run along kids, but don’t slide off the side.
Notice the distortions. This one got caught in a chain, was hit by a hammer, burned itself on a cutting torch and was stepped on by a horse. It’s amazing, but it still works well, though it makes a noise when being used.
Your eyes are not deceiving you on this next one. Yes, it is a little crooked. They say it was broken on a September night during peanut harvest and the owner refused to stop, so he wrapped a handkerchief around it and kept going. He got his crop in, but his finger healed up somewhat bent.
You’ll notice the joints here are swollen badly. They have been used so much the hinges are about gone. Put your ear to the surface. Hear that scraping? No lubrication left.
Time is getting short. You kids can slide down that hill over there into the middle. Now that we are in the palm, are there any questions? What was that, you say? What keeps this thing going so long?
I think I can tell you. Everyone quiet down. Be very still. Can you feel it? Just beneath your feet? That ‘whum-whum’, ‘whum-whum’?
That’s what pushed this thing to work through summer heat and winter cold. Through cuts and spinters, and blisters and burns. Through pain and stiffness, and long, lonesome hours. It has always refused to stop.
Why, you ask?
It’s heart. All heart.
Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org