Garden Road - July 26, 2016 When I was young, we attended the evening tractor pull at the Wayne County Fair. In cowboy boots and blue jeans, my father drove in one of those competitions, tugging a sled with weights. You could hear the torque throughout the grandstand. Earlier in the day, I rode in the kids’ pedal pull. Compared to the bigger children, the horsepower of my skinny thighs could not muster much steam. My brother spent most of the time in an arcade tent playing video games like Centipede and Pac-Man. It was like a revival tent. Missile Command spoke in tongues. My imagination made the rows of games go on forever, like in a ‘National Geographic’ photograph of prayer wheels from a Tibetan monastery, except with joysticks instead of a life tree. Jul 25, 2016, 09:10
Garden Road - July 19, 2016 Over the years, I have driven a number of different makes and models of tractors. I did not get started as early as my brother Grant, however, who was more enthusiastic to rumble into the field. He first drove a tractor once he was able to reach the brake and clutch when he was eight-years-old. My mother still has the Polaroid to prove her eldest son’s feat. It was not long afterward that he was following lines of raked hay to form round bales, watching out the back window of the white Case tractor for the marker to rise high enough, indicating it was time to wrap the bale in twine. As a boy, my brother showed our Uncle Ted how to use the new John Deere baler.
“You’re pretty good at this,” Grant told him. Jul 18, 2016, 09:05
Garden Road - July 12, 2016 My daughter Jasmine turns two-years-old on July 15. She is already talkative, though sometimes I am not sure what she is saying. If she needs to get somewhere, even if it is only from the living room to the kitchen, she is running. Jul 11, 2016, 09:09
Garden Road - July 5, 2016 This issue marks the third anniversary of when I started working for the Times-Republican. That makes 106 straight weeks for which I have written a Garden Road column, totaling almost 100,000 words and counting.
Three years ago, I trekked across the wilds of Illinois to visit Indiana for the first time. I attended the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana, in the shadow of Ball State University’s football stadium. In one corner of the atrium, literary agents sat in a clique, while mortal authors gathered at lunch tables, which skylights allowed the sun to illuminate. Through a passageway a masseuse provided free massages. I did not take advantage of his services. It would have seemed odd, in full view of the hundreds of people walking by to attend workshops, not to mention literary agents whose services I was courting, to be touched in that way. Jul 5, 2016, 09:17
Garden Road - June 28, 2016 There was a thunderstorm that afternoon as we drove out of Greeley in Colorado. Just that morning, back in Iowa, my brother Grant and I had smiled for my mother’s camera before heading west from Corydon on Highway 2. The soundtrack was a compilation from the 1970s. If only you believe in miracles, Jefferson Starship explained. Grant spent most of his childhood in that decade, and he had a nostalgia for its music. It was the first of summer, and corn grew all the way to Nebraska, where we filled up with gasoline and listened to old farmers chatting at a table; the wind has probably carried them all away by now. Before we reached the Missouri River, my brother’s red Ford pickup caught the reflection of the Loess hills. I had never seen a mound of soil and rock so tall, sunning itself before falling into shadow. Before that year, I had not traveled outside the states of Iowa or Missouri. Jun 27, 2016, 09:38