by cheri block
You may recall our purchase of a new John Deere tractor last year.
She has performed splendidly, enabling the Judge to drag tree branches all over the property. Her warranty is still fresh; her paint still vibrant; her engine strong and loud.
Last week, while grading a hillside for his new olive orchard, the Judge noticed a light on the dashboard blink on. Uh oh.
She must be hauled all the way to the dealership for a check of this pesky light. Rainbow Tractor is in a small town situated at the top of the famed Napa Valley, heart of California’s wine region.
“You have to be kidding,” I said, when the Judge suggested I come along for the ride.
“I’m not kidding, Cheri, ” the Judge answered.
We left at 5:30 am, hauling our heavy load through Bay Area rush hour traffic, but soon the beauty of the land and the smell of grapevines replaced the morning snarl of cars and the attitudes of the people who drive them.
We pulled into Rainbow Tractor at 7 am after a 2.5 hour drive.
The land was just waking up, so I walked across Highway 29 to snap a picture.
But there was work to do, namely, unloading the tractor and leaving her for the day to be repaired.
I sat on the side of the road, cradling my camera in my arms and wondering what to have for breakfast in town.
“Cheri, I know I seduced you to come with me by telling you that we could browse the stores and maybe go wine tasting while we wait for the tractor to be repaired, but I heard from Al at the hardware store, that Bob has an auger he will loan me, so I’d like to drive up to Kelseyville, visit Bob, take him out to lunch, and pick up the auger. Do you think we can do this?” the Judge suggested.
” Sure we can,” I said, patting grape jelly on my English muffin.
Off we drove, still hauling the noisy trailer up the windy mountain, through Middletown and on to Clear Lake, but not before the Judge had to pull over and conduct a conference call, of all ungodly things. Always prepared for these distractions, I pulled out my latest text on William the Conqueror.
Call finished, the Ford 250 swung into gear. The trailer creaked and off we went to meet Bob. At this point, something must be said about Bob.
He is 80 years old and owned the local hardware store for many years. He’s Scotch and gruff on the outside. He’s a generous man with those he trusts. He is short on words and long on kindness. He and the Judge have solved many of our plumbing and electrical problems throughout the years. He trusts the Judge.
His wife died several years ago. He’s been very lonely, so he moved far away to their house up in Kelseyville.
Everywhere you look on his property, a project looms.
Despite failing joints and the usual aches and pains that accompany an 80-year-old, Bob gets up every day with a project in mind.
Here are a few of his projects:
And then there’s the auger.
Ironically, we had lunch at the hardware store in Kelseyville where some enterprising person realized that hardware junkies–like Bob and the Judge–would love to chew the fat.
It was getting late, so down the mountain we hurried to Rainbow Tractor where, I am pleased to report, our tractor sat, her light repaired.
We had time to browse the shops and stop for a terrific glass of wine in the wine country.
And the Judge bought me dinner at a sweet restaurant in Calistoga.
Our conversation consisted of William the Conqueror, Bob, Rainbow Tractor, and the late hour.