Allen Days

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I once wrote in these pages that some of my happiest times were “Allen days” — days that I was lucky enough to hire my retired friend Allen to operate heavy equipment on the farm. That is still true.

Allen is a gifted operator. He is careful, vastly experienced, and always, always does more than I ask.

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But perhaps what I treasure most is that there is no one in my life who makes me laugh so much.

Allen will be 75 in the fall. With strangers he is shy and silent, all business. However once you get to know him, you find he is very kind, thoughtful, and warm, with a mischievous sense of humor. He giggles like a child.

Oddly enough, I’ve never captured this side of him on film. In most of the photos I’ve taken over the years, Allen is serious, frowning in concentration. For some reason, the laughing pictures have invariably turned out blurry.

I have finally realized that when he’s laughing, I’m laughing, and the camera is shaking.

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Both Allen and I are a little slower and creakier than we were five years ago. I’m limping painfully on a bad knee and his health is held together with gossamer threads. Neither of us could manage the ten-hour days of old, even if I could afford to rent the big machines.

However, Allen’s son D kindly lent us his mini-excavator, and over the past fortnight, in short stints, we’ve accomplished three important jobs that have advanced two different projects. Day by day we inched forward.

Now the excavator is gone and I’ll finally have time to post pictures of the work and catch up on neglected house chores.

But already I find myself missing the jokes and teasing of the happy Allen days.

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