A Boy, A Dog, and a Backhoe

This is the ultimate in Happy Boyhood: bonding with your dog AND a backhoe.

This is the ultimate in Happy Boyhood: bonding with your dog AND a backhoe.

Springtime in the country is lovely, of course: the songs of birds, the distant lowing of cattle, the clip clop of Amish buggies driving by, the resounding rumble of a backhoe…

OK, I must admit I was caught a bit off guard by that last one yesterday morning. I’d been in my son’s bedroom, vainly attempting to get him up early (he had only one more day of sleeping in before he had to be up at 6:30am for his summer Kindergarten Readiness class), when the house began vibrating.

Fortunately, I suspected what it was—a nearby culvert had plugged up and needed replacing, and apparently this was the day to do it—but I still scurried to the front window to confirm my suspicion. Sure enough, there it was: a vaguely dinosaurish backhoe maneuvering its way into prime scooping position while my disconcerted Amish neighbors watched from their nearby garden.

The noise was so loud and (to a five-year-old boy) primally seductive that even my son stumbled like a zombie on Valium into the living room. The machine kindled his enthusiasm in a way that the prospect of school apparently could not, and he scuttled back to his bedroom to dress. Once his outfit was complete (ratty T-shirt, semi-soiled jeans, and gratuitous rainboots), we leashed the dog and approached the busily digging backhoe.

The driver soon noticed his petite new audience, and he emerged briefly to let us know what was going on. I’d been having horrible visions of a lengthy detour for my husband’s route to work, but he assured me that his goal was to have the road passable by the time the “mail lady” came through so that she could fulfill her mission unobstructed.

I was dumbfounded, but in the most pleasant way possible: A two-hour road construction project?! Was such a thing even POSSIBLE?!

A dump truck eventually joined the party.

A dump truck eventually joined the party.


I have to confess that I questioned in my heart, but, O Me of Little Faith, he spoke truly. Two hours and a dump truck later, the road was indeed passable. There’s now a strip of dirt where the asphalt covering the old culvert had been, a strip that has brought much joy to my son: he’s discovered the magic of riding a bike over the “bumpy spots.”

No less magical for me is the refreshing brevity of the project, which leads me to this reflection: Even though the term “Government” currently denotes an evil Big Brother enthusiastically spying on American citizens (America’s number one at EVERYTHING, China!), this too is “Government.” Two men, two machines, two hours of frantic work so that the “mail lady” and neighborhood residents wouldn’t be inconvenienced by the sorely needed improvement project.

In this time of easy answers and gleeful criticism, I’ll think of this morning to remind myself that any term as broad and vague as “Government” encompasses the best as well as the worst of humanity.

And my determined son will ride over the bumps it leaves behind.



  1. sugars12 · · Reply

    OK, I think I am finally ready to go again Nothing like electronics to put you in your place. I love the pictures!! Also, the ending is perfect. As usual, thank you for making my morning coffee more enjoyable.

    1. Any time, Jane, any time! (And I just put up a new post which I REALLY hope you read since I have a direct appeal to you in it!) > Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2013 11:53:54 +0000 > To: reharris68@hotmail.com >

  2. Lovely thoughts. It’s well worth remembering that anytime we say “government,” or “companies” or what have you, those organizations consist of PEOPLE, sometimes wonderful, sometimes not so much.

    1. May you always deal with the “wonderful” rather than the “not so much”! > Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2013 12:50:02 +0000 > To: reharris68@hotmail.com >

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