By Baxter Black, Contributing Editor
I had just finished loading 184 7-foot steel t-posts – old ones by the way – in my pickup and was unloading a mere 24 bales of hay from the front section of my gooseneck stock trailer. It was a hot, humid afternoon in early fall when the dead branches begin to stick out of the cottonwood greenery, and the garden starts goin’ to heck and no one cares. I could almost smell the cumin from Ramon’s #6 Combination Plate being distilled in my sweat from lunch earlier. Then I saw the blue box.
The dreaded blue box. It was still in the stock trailer. It needed to be moved.
The blue box is a metal toolbox I have had since I bought my first set of “Made in America” sidecutters, thinking they would last longer. I have now realized that all sidecutters have the sharpness longevity of fresh fruit. They should be thrown out about as often as you empty the trash barrel in the shop.
Anyway, over the years, the blue box has become my chain holder. It will hold four or five good log chains. I have always said that 100 pounds of salt weighs more than 100 pounds of anything else. But a 10x10x18-inch metal toolbox full of log chains is harder to carry than a sheet of plywood in a hurricane.
There are other things that can stimulate a similar sinking feeling, e.g., the same cow prolapsing for the third time, somebody commenting that my horse seems to be favoring his left front or the phone ringing in the deep of night.
I don’t know exactly what it is about the old blue toolbox that I dread. I’ve heaved it, moved it, loaded it, dropped it, pushed it and cussed it through a lifetime succession of jobs and homes, horses and kids, and ups and downs.
Maybe it’s not because it’s heavier than God’s own anvil, clumsier than an ostrich in a Porta Potty or uglier than a ’58 Buick. No, maybe it’s because I realize it’s gonna outlive me by a long time. By its earthly clock, I’m just a temporary passerby, while it will still be here when men are walking on Pluto.
I have thoughts of storing my chains in a gunny sack, takin’ the ole toolbox to the dump and reestablishing the peckin’ order in my life. But every time I get as far as step one, I see it layin’ there like a concrete loaf of bread, like a 200-pound rattlesnake, and the dread sweeps over me in a wave.
So, I let it lay or move it if I have to. I’ve come to realize there are some things you just can’t do anything about.