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Growing up on a farm in Minnesota, we had to create our own fun. One thing we did would involve any one of the tractors that were in, or close to, the yard. The tractors were similar to the one in the picture. Notice the exhaust stack. There is no cover on it if it rained. So, there was always an empty tin can that was on the tractor to put over the stack after shutting the tractor down. One of the things my brother and I did was to create a surprise for the next hired man who would be using the tractor.

Our Mom would often make my brother and me a lunch that we would eat out of a lunch bag or box somewhere on the farm. We usually asked for oranges to be included. We would peel and eat the orange, but take the peels and put them down the stack of the tractor and then replace the can on the stack. On a busy farm in the summer, we usually did not have to wait long before a hired man would come along, remove and store the tin can and then sit and start the tractor.

As soon as the engine started, the orange peels which shoot out of the stack like confetti. The surprise was wonderful to watch from a hidden spot. The hired men usually seemed to be amused after the surprise. We would usually dispose of the evidence once the tractor left the yard. It worked well for quite a few times. The last time included my uncle Del. Yes, there was a farmer in the Del. Uncle Del’s sense of humor did not include things like that. My brother and I didn’t snicker when we saw uncle Del get on the tractor. The surprise was complete but amusement didn’t follow. He headed for the house and angrily told mom what we had done. We were summoned to the house and given the third degree by Uncle Del and Mom. Oh well, it was worth it. To this day my brother and I reminisce about the orange “peels of laughter”.

Today, far too many people have lost the joy of surprise. Some may call it childish, but I call it youthful. Some of my fondest memories of family and friends were when they did humorous surprises. Those memorable times often dominate the conversations during family get-togethers.

When was the last time you unexpectedly surprised a friend or family member? How do you want to be remembered : as a stick in the mud or someone who approaches a loved one with mud on your hands and a twinkle in your eye? Surprise someone today and make them laugh. You both will long remember it.



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