When I hear the word “wheel” my brain’s files start flipping through thoughts and images as they surface. Almost instantly I have to admit my life would be much tougher if wheels weren’t a part of it. It’s kind of interesting to think about all the things that would never have happened if wheels weren’t part of what I’ve known. How bleak and mundane our world would be if wheels stopped turning.
Wheels. I know wheels sped along when the doctor rushed Mom to the hospital so I could arrive in the delivery room. Later I saw the wobbly wheels of the baby buggy and recall its fragile canvas material that survived the jostling of us four children before we learned to crawl and walk. I’ve heard the stories about wheels that can to a stand still when too many tires popped in the days before steel belts and better roads.
I made the wheels of my tricycle turn as a rode through the cool sheets hung to dry on the clothesline, and I controlled the wheels of my little sister’s trike when I tied her little trike to mine and made her wheels go where I thought they should go. I guess my wheels were turning then, eager to move on to other wheels.
I started holding onto a steering wheel, for real, when I was about seven. We were permitted to help in the hayfield when we could hold steady the steering wheel of the old Minneapolis-Moline tractor. I was rarely seeing life from that perspective, but atop the tractor seat, I sat higher than those who were walking and I could look up ahead of the path I was to take on the tractor, down at the mown alfalfa now in fresh bails, across the field to see how much longer I’d be able to drive “Old Minnie” if I didn’t run over anything I shouldn’t, beside me to know if I needed to slowly turn the tractor right or left, and behind me in case my dad or brothers were needing me to throw the clutch forward and stop, stretching my foot toward that brake. Without any effort, I can recall that first time of handling Old Minnie’s steering wheel.
After that,I gradually held on to the steering wheels of another tractor or two and of several cars as I learned how to become a contributing farm girl and a cautious driver concerned not only about avoiding accidents but learning how to go places that were important in life.
Another wheel that comes to mind is about the size of a car’s tire, but it is a wheel of Swiss cheese. For about four years of my life, I lived in an area surrounded by cheese factories. I thoroughly enjoyed going to those buildings, some more sterile than others, and seeing the stacks of cheese wheels. I liked being able to have the cheese-maker “pull a plug” for me to sample and usually I went home with a few pounds of Swiss cheese … and probably a quart or so of cream so thick a spoon would stand straight up in it. We say that the cheese and cream have probably shortened our days by a few weeks, but oh, how good those products were.
We have a family picture we treasure. It’s of three of us kids bundled up a bit as we push an old farm wagon. In the wagon are my mom and little sister and truthfully, we all look like we need a visit from some charity organization but we were having fun. The rims on the large wheels were rusty red and made our hands rusty, too. The spokes on that weathered wagon’s wheels had grayed gracefully and the tongue most often just rested on the ground, but on that sun-drenching Sunday afternoon, the wheels were turning out fun for all of us who gave the wagon a chance to roll along again.
A humorous incident happened on that farm, too, and that was because of some very old wheels. Now, I can never remember whether it was a Model A or a Model T that had captured my oldest brother’s interest, but he and his buddy spent hours reworking parts to get that old car running. When my sister and I began our walk down the quarter mile lane to the mailbox, nothing unusual caught our attention. However, we were almost all the way back to the house when, to our horror, the old car had started rolling down the hill! We yelled, I’m sure, but mostly we wanted to spare the car from going on over the embankment that would send it careening into the wheat field. We ran to stop the car. We put our shoulders against the front of the car and pushed, making the car slow to a stop. We were smart enough to know that if we moved away, the car would continue rolling. We hollered again for help, only to see the hair of two heads start to pop up above the steering wheel and the dashboard. The guys whose laughter could not be contained had tricked us. It wasn’t the only time warnings were issued about how serious a problem could have arisen – but it was all in good fun and it still brings smiles and laughter as that afternoon adventure is recounted or recalled.
It’s late and though I tried to find them, I’ve not yet figured out the “rules” for these writer prompts. I don’t know how little or much we’re to write, but I do like challenges when I have time to tackle them. Tonight as I head to bed, I’m really glad I don’t have to invent the wheel because several times today, the wheels on vehicles and machines made my life so much easier than it would have been otherwise.