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September 19th 2009

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    It has been called a Mexican Backhoe, as have I.  This, I always hoped, was a tribute to strong hearted labor.   And I know that those who use the expression sometimes do not mean it this way.  But mine has been a relationship with physical work that takes its loyalty from those who do more than sit in the shade and sneer and eat french-fries with their diet coke.  So I have great respect for the wheelbarrow.  

    The wheelbarrow we use has tribulation in its past.  It once belonged to a stone mason who took pride in his faith and somewhere from within his heritage he had found the idea that he could not work for 'Jews or Blacks'.  He had this wheelbarrow new.  It was red and clean and without rust, not even a hint of mortar.  One day as he was driving home, this shiny new wheelbarrow leapt from the back of his truck and found itself in the back of my truck.  And ever since this wheelbarrow has lived disguised by colors Aztecs might have enjoyed.

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    Sometimes, in that satanic hall the hardware store, I wander by the wheelbarrows and I am tempted by newness.  You can get them in parts.  Handles, wheels, beds.  I can picture myself with the wrench applying torque to the bolts so they bite into new wooden handles.  Pumping up the tire, bouncing it like a baby.  And I am filled by a guilt that I will call Herculean. 

    Not because of something as mundane as theft, but because I am disloyal to an old friend who recently I have been abusing with all those parts that go to make concrete edging.  He is too rusty now to beat with a hammer and I am wary of those acids the devil sells near the trowels with rubber handles, just this side of the levels that can disable the eyesight with laser beams. 

   This guilt, however, becomes Herculean because it extends beyond new wheelbarrow lust into some part of me that some might record as preternatural.  Disturbing in the way that does not resolve itself by examination because it belongs to a greater beast that has found a home in me.  

    The concrete mixer, was already rusty when it walked my way.  It is heavy beyond imagination.  It has an electric engine that when properly greased effortlessly turns gallons of gravel and sand, and even though it is not a backhoe it makes hard work almost complacent.  And guilty I am because despite the many years of our association, this concrete mixer and I have never been friends.  

 

tim candler

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(muriatic acid)