Short in the straddle

To read more of retired Gainesville educator Jane Elder’s blog, Ozark Road, visit


It’s that time of year. I should be writing about Thanksgiving. And I am. 

Squinting my eyes against the strong November morning sun, I turn to the west and see my beloved Caney peaks in one of my favorite hues. I ask Andy, the painter in my family, What color is that? 

He answers: Azure. 

Ahhhhh ... Azure. Not quite purple. Not quite blue. Something in between.

We are loading wood into the pickup. Climbing down out of the truck, I carefully make my way to the woodpile. Branches and limbs from our timber harvest still block the way, but Andy has been busy splitting and sorting until several good-sized mounds of firewood are arrayed along the edge of the field. Loading the truck bed reminds me of many other times I helped get the winter’s wood in. I was younger then and my muscles were stronger, but I can still lug and toss and pile it high, being careful not to break the back glass of the truck.

Loaded up, we get ready to drive over to where the wood is stacked. But there’s a problem. The truck is parked on a “sidelin’” hill ... and my door is on the higher side. As usual, I am too short in the straddle to make it into the passenger side. Andy circles the truck around until I can get into the high seat comfortably. 

I have admired women who can give themselves a little bounce and hike themselves into a truck with grace and ease. It seems so effortless. In fact I saw a lady at Battlefield Mall, dressed in a short and rather tight outfit, give a little leap and settle right into her high-pickup-seat perch with very little effort. Of course, she was several years younger than me. But even when I was her age, I had to struggle to get into the pickup – because I’m a little too short in the straddle.

Making it over to the woodpile, we begin the task of stacking. As anyone knows, there’s an art to stacking firewood. And I’m pretty good at it. My short straddle doesn’t interfere with my ability to stack wood. But my short arms do make it harder to reach over the truck bed and grab the right-size log to stack in the proper place. With some grunting and a little tip-toe work, though, I can usually keep up with Andy in the stacking game.

You are probably wondering how this is going to lead into Thanksgiving. And here it is. Yesterday, loading wood and driving all over our beautiful farm, the sunshine, the wondrous view of the hills in the distance, brought tears to my eyes. Even though I may be a little short in the straddle, and perhaps not able to do all I used to do, I am thankful. 

Thankful I have the privilege to live in a quiet and peaceful place. 

Thankful for sunshine.

Thankful for trucks that run.

Thankful for a husband who takes good care of me. 

And thankful for wood that will keep me warm this winter. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423