Howdy Friends! Fall knocked on the door. Air light and crisp. A few maples sported red patches. Hummingbirds mostly gone. Flowers fading, but bustling with goldfinches stealing seeds from cosmos, zinnias and marigolds. Grandpop loved fall. Always said it geared him up for Thanksgiving, which set his sights on Christmas. He often told Grandma he wouldn’t mind if we had Thanksgiving and Christmas a bit more often. I must admit to agreeing with him on that.

Grandpop was out behind the barn digging, and cleaning out diversion trenches when I pulled up. A young lad from town was spending the weekend. I could see as I walked their way Grandpop had the boy doing more than his share of picking and shoveling. He tossed me a grin. “Well son, come ta help did ya?”

“I wouldn’t want to interfere with your festivities.” I offered hoping that would let them know shovels tend not to fit my hands too often these last years. “What duties are you scraping up this fine day?”

Grandpop pulled his hat, dragged a shirt sleeve across forehead. “That last storm was a winner.” He chuckled. “Backed water clean up into the second stall where we park the old tractor. So I figured today be as good as any to address these diversion ditches that quit diversionin’”

I took a seat on a nearby rock where it might be clear I’d be willing to supervise, but not participate in the festivities. I got settled and comfortable. “Well it looks like it could be that kind of day.” I chuckled, “For spectating.”

“Spectatin’ is often underrated it seems.” Grandpop offered. Then he took hold of the lad’s shovel to stop him. The boy had been digging with such eagerness it could be he thought there was a prize at the end of the trench. “This young fella is Matt. His folks figured a few days of fresh air could clear the cobwebs from his thinkin’”

“Howdy Matt, “I extended my hand. “Good to meet you.”

Matt looked up at Grandpop, dropped the shovel and shook hands. “I don’t know why we’re digging this stupid ditch. It’s all just a big nothing back here anyway.”

Grandpop tossed the boy a quick grin. “Well now that’s a good observation. So when we’re finished the stupid ditch, I’ll give a lesson on a stupid scythe and you can have a go at these stupid weeds back here.” His grin broadened as the boy gave a scowl.

“How’s the ditch going to do anything anyway?” Matt scoffed.

“It’ll give the rain a choice.” Grandpop said.

“A choice?” Matt shrugged his shoulders. “What kind of choice does rain need to make?”

Grandpop didn’t answer right away. He grabbed the muddy handled pick, and picked and scratched the dirt, extending the ditch another few feet. “There ya go, Matt, clean that dirt out and we might be all finished. Remember, put the dirt on the low side.”

“I remember.” Matt grumbled, but went to work with the shovel.

Grandpop stomped the dirt Matt piled, making a solid berm.

“There ya go.” Grandpop said. “That, young man, is a diversion ditch a fella can be proud of.”

“For what?” Matt asked. “What’s it for?”

Grandpop pointed into the barn. “Remember when we started and I showed you the water in the barn from last night’s rain?”

“Yeah.” Matt’s lack of enthusiasm showed.

“Well now the rain has a crossroad. It can choose. Does it want to flood my barn, which won’t make me happy. Or does it want to run on out here and get lost in sunshine and sweet grass. Like it should.”

“A crossroad?” Matt tried not to grin. “Is this part of the choice that rain can make?” Matt couldn’t hold back his smile.

“Yup. It’s about that. One way on the crossroad takes the rain along its way to live the life of happy rain swimming in sunny grass. And the other way on the crossroad dams it up, floods my barn and gets nowhere.”

“So?” Matt said.

“It’s not so different than us.” Grandpop said.

“We’re not much different than a muddy barn stall?”

“Not so much the muddy stall.” Grandpop answered.

“The rain then?”

“More the rain, than the barn.” Grandpop leaned on his shovel. “More the rain and choices.” With the toe of his boot Grandpop dragged along the little muddy ditch helping the water run free into the sunny grass. “In my long life, many a time I stood at crossroads, often not sure which way to go.”

“What’d you do? Stand in the rain?” Matt almost stifled his laugh.

Even I smiled at that one.

“Different things different times.” He paused. “But crossroads are an important part of life. It’s the directions we go when we face ‘em that charts out what comes next.”

“Like a muddy stall or swimming in sunny grass?” Matt said.

“Just like that. Remember son, choices matter, at every crossroad in life.” Grandpop got real serious. “Crossroads offer us a time to think things over. There’s always choices at crossroads.”

“Yeah or I guess they wouldn’t be crossroads.” Matt laughed again.

“Yup. And at those times sometimes the way is clear. Them’s the easy times. But other times the way’s not so clear. Those, my son, are the times that matter. Those choices at those tough crossroads that will define to you, and pretty much to everyone else, what you’re made of. Looks like we’re all done here.” Grandpop said as he studied the water running out over the grass. He grabbed the pick and started toward the tool shed.

Matt followed along. “Crossroads.” He said.

Grandpop tossed me a wide eyed grin. ~ Gitty up, Dutch.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This