Belated Mother’s Day Story

The little girl trudged down the country road. Her euphoria from hearing the school bell ring the days end was escaping her and being replaced with melancholic ruminations.

Spring, the season of birth, or the death of cold, snow and book pages flipping atop ancient quilts.

Spring, this season at times assaulted her and at other times, it promised tall grasses, fresh fruits from the garden and majestic storms colliding with earth.

As she continued to walk, she came across an old man digging a ditch beside the road. His white tapered beard sprung leaks, wetting bits of soil beneath him. His straw hat, more mud then anything else, must surely have concealed a naked dome. And then there was what always stunned her about old men, he wore long sleeves and long pants of thick material. Maybe he was pretending that winter was still here.

She stopped and said, “Hey mister!”

Without removing himself from his work, he grumbled, “What?”

“I think I know how you could make easier time shoveling.”

At that, he froze, cranked his head over to see this wisp of a thing in the road. Then he unbent his body to say, “You. You little girl, you think you know how to shovel better then me?”


“You! I’ve been shoveling ditches since before you were born. Hell, I’ve been digging dirt since before your parents were alive. I bet I’ve been turning the soil since before your grandparents existed! And you think you know better then me?”

“It’s just that-”

“You can’t find a road in this county or the next three that I haven’t had a hand in making. I’ve dug, do you know how many miles of ditches I’ve dug? Do you?”

“No, but-”

“Of course you don’t. You couldn’t even count that high! Well, I threw those worms all over this globe. I’ve dug and dug my whole life. Enough to make a ditch to the moon and back!”

“That seems a bit-”

“It’s true! You aught to believe me!”

“Still though-”

“I come from a long line of ditch diggers. I bet you didn’t know that. My father, he was a ditch digger, my grandfather, he was too, as was his father. My patriarchal tree of ditch diggers goes all the way back to the Mayflower! What do you think about that!”

“My mother says that we shouldn’t fib.”

“What! Why, the very first ditch dug on this here continent was dug by my fathers, fathers, fathers, fathers-”

“Was not!”

“Oh, it was too. You aught to mind your elders, remember that you’re just a girl and that as such, you ain’t got nothing but noodles in your head!”

“The Indians dug ditches, they sure did!”

“Well, they weren’t proper ditches though. They’re nothing but savages and wouldn’t know a proper ditch if-”

“One more thing mister! I may be ‘just a girl’ but I’ve dug too, I know how to dig. And my ‘noodle brain’ knows for sure that you’ll get a lot more done if you use the other end of the shovel!”