Wake-up in the dark. Try to be quiet. Pants and tee-shirts in their respective piles, all the pants are blue jeans, all the tee-shirts are white, there is no need to turn on the light. Lacing up heavy leather boots identifies this as a workday. Back the drill into sleeping people’s back yard; they had already removed a section of wooden fencing. The first bucket fills with dew-covered grass. The last bucket fills with coarse sand, almost gravel, lower the mast and drive to the next site. Four more days of waking in a dark room, Saturday morning waking at four, remembering it’s Saturday, rolling over with a smile and sleeping till nine. Sometimes three holes a day, sometimes two, sometimes trouble and one hole takes two days. Save the money from the good days, prepare for the bad.
“There’s a rock down there, it’s rolling on a rock.”
“It’ll pick it up, keep drilling,” but it just bounces over, again and again.
“Pull up the bucket, I’ll go down,” the earth is cool on a hot day as I drop to thirty-two feet with my foot hooked into the end of our sand line, holding a shovel with a one-foot stub of a handle. The rock is eight inches across; the opening in the bottom of the bucket is only six. If the ground wasn’t so hard it would have pushed the rock to the side and let it fall into the top of the bucket. I hold the rock like a baby and enjoy the ride back to the top.
The hot summer turns to foggy winter, less daylight, less three hole days. Rain and mud, this drill rig is small, easy to pull out, one of those fancy big rigs couldn’t even get in here. Another summer, another winter, set up the mast, I know where I’ll be for two and a half hours. All the levers are automatic, the sound of the six-cylinder engine reveals how much pressure is on the bucket blades, the smell of fresh dirt as it comes out of its deep hiding. Legs and arms are strong.
“Do you work out?”
Brown face, callused hands, holes in my jeans, “just work.”