Wednesday started out well. I’d been called for jury duty, but on calling in in the morning, I got a reprieve until Thursday. I thought hopefully that maybe this would be the Pony’s day for a reprieve as well. With the day free, I started calling towing companies and ended up making arrangements to meet a driver at the woods. I asked my wife Cindy (aka The Princess) if she wanted to join me in the woods for the attempt to domesticate the Pony. I should explain here that a couple of weeks ago, before I started working diligently in the woods, a news item had appeared in the local rag (The News and Observer) pointing out that North Carolina, and The Triangle area in particular were among the worst for Copperhead snake bites. They are not deadly, but their bite can cause paralysis of limbs and even lead to amputation. Having read this article, The Princess simply rolled her eyes as if to say, I’m not joining you on this fool’s mission.
Uh oh, I feel a digression coming on, and there’s no one here to stop me. Sorry, I’m just going to have to give in to it. The reference to the copperheads reminded me of James Taylor’s song “Copperline.” Mr. Taylor spent part of his formative years in this area, and he wrote that song about the area surrounding Morgan Creek. I can see Morgan Creek from my back porch and often go hiking in the woods along its banks. In his song, Mr. Taylor speculates on why the area might have come to be called the copperline, mentioning in particular the copperheads and the stills (with copper coils) that used to be operated illegally in these woods. I’ve come across what I believe to be the remains one of those old stills in the woods very near where the Pony has been resting for so many years. Ok, after taking one of my digression pills, Sidetrackocillin, I’m feeling much better and can move on with the story.
During the hour or so I spent with the tow truck driver, Gary Talbert, I gained new respect for tow truck jockies and for Gary in particular. I also got the impression from talking with him that if you want to know anything about your area and the people who live in it, ask a tow truck driver. When we were darn near stymied by two giant pines and could have used a saw, Gary knew the manager of the adjoining property and called to see if we could borrow a saw. But when the neighbor ended up not being available, Gary said, “Well, before we give-up on this, lets give ‘er one more try.” I pushed in Gary’s right, rear view mirror, pulled back on a small tree and Gary jockied his rig expertly between the two pines with only a couple of inches to spare on either side.
I was so nervous and excited through this whole process that I was afraid to take out my camera. But when the truck was finally in position, I pulled it out and took the shot that is inset here. When Gary saw the Pony, he recognized it for the true diamond in the rough that it is and looking her over, offered appreciatively that “Man, you don’t find ’em like this no more!” From this point on things got a lot easier. Here’s a shot of the Pony being winched up onto the flat-bed. After she was all the way on board and chained firmly in position it was time for the cautious drive out. At one point I had to jump up on the bed and hold up a tree limb, so that it didn’t hit the pony’s stack, then the pushing the mirrors in thing again as we squeezed through those two pines. After splitting the pines we were in the clear and soon at the gate and through.
So many times in our lives we use the old expression “We’re not out of the woods yet,” but for once in my life, at this point was able to say, “We are out of the woods, and ain’t that a beautiful sight.” I had Gary stop for a moment so I could take this next photo. Then after I locked the gate for the last time it was time to head on down the road for the five-mile trip to Gene’s place and the Pony’s new “domain.” Gene wasn’t home when we arrived, but Gary let the Pony down near the prearranged spot next to the garage, and Gary and I rocked and pushed it the last few feet. While we were unloading at Gene’s, Gary proved his knowledge of the area again by noting that the folks that owned one of the neighboring properties had boarded horses. To this I responded, “Yeah, and now Gene is right there with them, he’s boarding a Pony too!” One last picture below shows the Pony sitting comfortably at Gene’s. I thought seeing her there that she looked a lot less decrepit than she had back in the woods. Gary and I shook hands and he was on his way, but if you ever need to get any vehicle out of a tight spot, or if you just have a question about the people and places of the greater Chapel Hill area, give him a call at (919) 971-6207.
Gene sent me an email late yesterday saying he’d ordered an operator’s manual for the Pony. I hope eventually we’ll be lucky enough to need that manual. By yesterday evening Gene had also thrown a cover over the Pony, and for the first time in many years she’s resting comfortably at a real home. Speaking of many years, as Gary winched the Pony up on the bed, an old, corroded penny from 1979 fell out. I know that doesn’t mean a lot, but if that penny had been much later I would have been surprised. The Pony’s gotten her reprieve after a long, long time. Now, we’ll she run? If you’ve got an opinion on that, leave me a comment.