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The Tree and the Plow

January 27, 2018

 This one bottom sulky plow was placed along a trail in our pasture by my great grandfather about 60 years ago.  During those 60 years, a poplar tree grew around the plow and they now stand together, man's creation enveloped within Nature, so close that one can no longer differentiate where one ends and the other begins.


The plow, deemed no longer useful decades ago,  has continued to rust, while the tree continues to grow and to thrive, still full of purpose and reason.


Man's creations lose their purpose with the changing times and with a quick decision.  Nature, born knowing their purpose, cannot be interrupted, and will always make the best of their situation.  Their struggle creates beauty.


 The plow that once made miles behind a horse, turning the soil and releasing the aroma of moist earth into the air, delighting the pioneer, has now become covered in moss and continues to blend in with the Nature that it was designed to tame.


 As this plow rests in the pasture that I played in as a child, it was another one of those regular little stops or attractions that I became accustomed to visiting.


This was actually chosen as a rather odd place to leave a piece of equipment that was no longer needed.  Most times, these old relics were parked near the yard in a scrap heap and eventually made their way to a scrap dealer.  This plow happens to be a quarter mile from the yard, nowhere near the fields it would have worked, but instead along an old path that was used regularly by children on their way to a one room school house.


 It was my father, Marty Klassen, who reflected upon this recently, and what this plow has meant to him, as it was his grandfather,  Martin H. Klassen, who's farm he now lives on,  who placed the plow here;


"I decided to go for a ski today and for some reason as I approached the old plow at the end of the pond, I was compelled to stop and wonder why your great-grandfather would have taken the time to pull that plow all the way down here.


I was suddenly taken back to that time, thinking of all those very hot, long summer days he rode that plow.  I thought it was a very physically demanding era in time, but it was also a very peaceful, slower paced, rewarding time.  It was funny how I found myself yearning for that time.


Then I thought how that old plow witnessed many times a little curly-haired boy walking on by as carefree as a butterfly on a warm summer day heading to school.  


And then very patiently that old plow embraces a fully grown, curly-haired young man walking by, tending his milk cows.


And low and behold, this steadfast, weathered old plow that has made even the tree yield to its frame, now watches a curly, silver-haired old man skiing by, or giving his grandchildren a sleigh ride.  


Now it has dawned on me why great-grandpa did this.  He knew that at some point somebody would stop this hectic pace and reminisce just for a moment before they continue on as that little curly-haired boy did, as carefree as that butterfly on a warm summers' day."


 Perhaps the tree has yielded to the plow, or the plow to the tree, or maybe both.  And perhaps it is their relationship together that speaks to the passerby and compels them to pause.


And in this way, maybe the plow still does have a purpose.  Maybe great-grandpa could not bear to toss it into a junk pile just because a newer piece of equipment took its place.  And in not doing so, the plow has become not just a reminder of another era, but a physical reminder of him as well.  To know that it was his hands that placed it there without "logical" reason.  


And from this choice was born moments of reflection, not only on our own lives and our place within it, but on his as well.


I can't help but feel that after decades together, the tree and the plow have become friends.  Their story, a story of the land and of those who make their lives upon it, is a shared one.  


And it is whispered to those with the hearts to hear it.




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