Updated: May 3
The verdict is still out. Not in the courtroom of the Linn County Justice Building, but in my son’s garage where he will dismantle my Kawasaki all-terrain vehicle called a mule.
Accidents happen, and no one is responsible. I was throwing decaying walnut branches into a burn pile, trying to finish before dark.
The "mule" was positioned near the overflow of the pond. I even took a moment longer to set the brake. Within seconds, I heard the accelerator running wildly and it only took a few more seconds to realize one of my dogs, Rowdy, a blue heeler, was sitting on the peddle. The brake wouldn’t even stop the momentum of gravity pushing the mule closer and closer to the water’s edge.
The next view was of Rowdy looking panicked trying to swim out of the mule. The front-end of the mule was stuck in a muddy drop of about five feet. The rear end was angled, but still stuck in about two feet of water inches from the bank.
The problem-solving part of my brain kicked in fearing the worst. I would get stuck if I tried to rescue my dog and I had no vehicle that could pull out the mule. I moved swiftly to the house to at least have my car if needed.
Upon my return to the pasture, I passed Rowdy looking bewildered, but gingerly walking toward the house. One problem was resolved. I then noticed my neighbors’ truck in their yard, and Doug getting out of his work van. I pride myself on being independent but this was one time I knew my resources were not adequate.
Doug immediately jumped into action when I relayed my predicament. Soon his truck was backed onto the pond’s bank, but we both realized the yellow plastic rope on the ball of the mule would be no match for a truck and a mule.
At the house, I grabbed a pair of ancient rubber boots and a long, sturdy rope. Once in the water, the leak in the right boot was significant with the possibility of weighting me down, but God-willing, I was determined to get the mule out.
Long, solid walnut posts from the mule bed had not floated away. I placed one on each side of me and braced each on the edge of the rear of the mule and the pond’s bank. It wasn’t pretty, but my movements in the darkness were disguised other than crawling up the bank. Good invention as it kept me stable for the two times I entered the water.
When Doug and his truck easily pulled out the mule, water and algae dripped from the front end. Fortunately, my chain saw in the bed remained dry. My new cell phone stored in the front compartment wasn’t so lucky, but I have the good sense to carry insurance.
Doug could have said he was tired and couldn’t help me, but the good neighbor he is, didn’t hesitate to help. He pulled the mule and me to the garage in an effort to give the mule a fighting chance to survive with snow and extreme cold on the way.
I suggested a means of helping Doug in return, but he insisted that “this is what neighbors do.” One more reason why I love Linn County. Doug’s words were spot-on. Neighbors help neighbors. We also give a friendly wave when we pass each other, not always knowing the person in the other vehicle.
Rogene “Jeanne” McPherson is a writer who lives outside of Centerville. She recently published a book about her experiences entitled Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living. It is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.