Do Tractors Have Souls

Do tractors have souls? My friend Jeff on the far side of the hill would say they do, as long as it’s a green tractor. I realize my question belies my social reference if not my place on the evolutionary chart. Normal people who are proud of themselves, their graduate degrees, their 401-Ks, the plasma screen, their handicap, do not bother themselves with the question, whether tractors have souls.

Neither did my grandfather or his brother, both of whom I have written of, for they were horse. Grandpa George and Uncle Jim were the last generation in my family as were as much horseflesh as human. They were fine with that, to be half horse half something else as long as it was half horse. In their minds they fully agreed with that fellow Darwin and the evolution of the species for it points to the possibility of the greatest possibility of all, half man half horse. Neither did they doubt the hierarchy of nature, the horse in first place, as more beautiful and sufficient enough when it came to smart. Never been a farmer who doubted that smart wasn’t a thing you want to over-invest in. To their witness, survival wasn’t the direct coefficient of smart.

According to my ancestors tractors cannot have souls and if they did they wouldn’t have displaced horses in the first place. A reasonable enough argument assuming a soul is what makes one sensitive and thoughtful, which probably isn’t reasonable.

I am three going on four generations since the great unhorsing. I have ridden a horse, owned horses, cry like a baby at just about any horse race when the camera zooms in close and you see that creature reach up from the depths of its being to run for the pole. Nothing in art, science or religion is so taking for me as that moment. My wife knows this; she leaves the room, returning when I’ve regained my composure. Odd when I don’t ride very well and have to think first how to affix a saddle to a horse.

Except for that I’m pretty much pure tractor. In the list of my loyalties I may very well be tractor before I am an American, before liberal, before English major, I am a tractorarian. I’m not sure of that word, tractorarian. Perhaps the word is tractoholic, my wife thinks this is closer. A tractor-addict comes to mind. Or we could add the Latin suffix same as Australopithecus. Tractopithicus. I have been accused, usually right after I enter the house for supper, of having WD40 in my bloodstream and hydraulic oil instead of ocular fluid. What might be the composition of my seminal fluid is open to suggestion, the end result blame obvious. I have a son of the kind, my daughter is the fault of something else. He is mechanical, she likes birds.

The question is not yet answered: do tractors have souls? My observation on the subject is that soul-ness and its possession is a matter of chronology. Time is involved. I have owned tractors that had no soul at the time of their delivery. They were just big beautiful hunks of cast iron, like as not painted green, but not entirely. I have also bought hunks of junk that once long ago were green but when they arrived at my shop door already had a soul. No intravenous, no merit badge and secret oath necessary to earn a soul, already in place.

My wife has noticed this. I’ve probably told the story of my mama’s wedding gift to my new wife was a second hand stove pot she bought at a rummage sale. This to be the oatmeal pot on our stove, same as my mama had an oatmeal pot. The handle was missing; the pot dented apparently having been used for punt practice at Lambeau. But unlike all the neat shiny new stuff we got as wedding presents that pot came complete with a soul and we all understood why.

Never mind I’m still trying to detail the nature of this transformation, how some stuff has a soul and some stuff doesn’t and if you wait around awhile, stuff does that didn’t. As makes me wonder.