He would mention the fact that they were strong, solid, and colorful. We’d laugh, and in the warm summer evenings, after supper, we’d go pick up his rocks.
He called them “his” rocks because, well, in reality, I guess they were. Any rocks that were culled from his fields were his rocks, and they were tossed in piles, ready to be loaded into the back of his rickety red dump truck. Dug out and tossed, because he was ready to plant another 20 acres of whatever field crop we didn’t plant the year before.
In those days, I worked side by side with my husband; rugged, bronzed, and chiseled from throwing feed bags and wrestling pigs. I liked the exercise, fresh air, and just being with him, digging into the earth and picking out “his” rocks.
One night, after about 30 minutes of chunking through the dry clay, I heard him yell, “Holy moly, Barb! Come here! This one’s a biggy!”
“Are you bragging again?”
“Ha, ha! No! I’ve been trying to uncover this one for the past 20 minutes and I still haven’t reached the edges. I bet this one’s got to be at least five feet across. No telling how deep we have to go. Pretty sexy, huh?” He sidled closer, wrapping his thick brown arm around my shoulders.
“Yeah, Big Guy, but not now. If and when we ever get this thing out of here, let’s put it by the pond for some natural landscape . . . but how the heck are we going to budge this thing?”
And because he loved me so much, and he knew that this rock would look pretty good at the edge of our pond; a monument to his virility and his farming prowess, he said, “We’ll call Dave.”
Frank’s confidence in our neighbor Dave’s ability to pry that rock from its earthly womb came from the fact that Dave owned the biggest animal in the area: a yellow Cat. The Cat, with its twelve foot high tracks and enormous maw of a bucket, would tackle my rock , , , “his” rock.
After spending half a day gouging the rock from hardened clay, Dave and my husband loaded it into the bed of the dump truck. Frank backed it to within forty feet of the pond, knowing that the rock would roll to the exact spot and stay, just like a well-trained dog. So when the bed tipped up and that monstrous five thousand pound sculpture clanged and banged down the steel ramp; when its enormous, hard body careened toward mine at what seemed to be a good 60 mph, I stepped aside.
I very quickly and graciously stepped aside. I let it bounce and jump right into the pond because no straight arm would have stopped the velocity of this beastly orb! It glugged and sank to a comfortable stop under about four feet of water.
Frank jumped out and ran to the back of the truck.”So, where’s the rock?”
This question was completely unexpected. What did he mean “where’s the rock?” Where did he think a five ton rock, moving at the speed of light, would be? In my pocket? Evaporated? The only place it could be was stuck on the bottom of a mucky, green pond. I stared at his sweet, trusting face, because I knew he really wanted to believe it was anywhere but in the water. And then reality took over and he ran to the edge, peering through the murk.
“What the hell . . . ?”
Again: “What the hell . . . how did it get down there?”
Again, I shrugged, now incredulous as to how he must’ve missed the lesson in freshman physics on how a body in motion stays in motion, especially a boulder.
He slowly pulled off his sweaty “I Love Pigs” cap, continued to stare at the rippled water, slapping mindlessly at his knee with his rolled up cap.
“I’ll get it out next spring,” he said, trudging slump-shouldered back to the truck.
He and his buddy Dave did resurrect those chains, hooked them up to the tractor, and pulled out the rock the next June. They set it just right in front of the cattails, a monument to Frank’s word, his pride as a farmer, and as my man.
Because I am still his woman who still loves his rocks.
Like this story? Voting will be open soon. View all of our “Awkward Love” stories here.