The hurricane carried so much rain Tree Land students wondered if outdoor recess would ever happen again.
At long last the day came. The rain stopped but parts of the play yard were soaked. 16 inches of rain in one day made swampland out of some areas.
Miss Popcorn Goat, the school mascot, was so glad to see the kids again. She was tired of all the rain too. The wonderful children were thrilled to finally be able to go outside. So they were quite willing to avoid the places which were still wet.
Some played like they were in a Louisiana swamp, and to avoid alligators and snakes they had to walk only on dry land. Others played like they were farmers harvesting the crops.
Miss Landers, their teacher, said if no one walked in the mud or left prints in what they had begun to call The Great Swamp the class would continue to have outside recess. After all, birds and squirrels had recess all day. It seemed only fair for kids to get to play outside. So they were good about going by the Rules of the Swamp.
Some grownups weren’t so cooperative. A man in a bill cap came on Saturday when the play yard was empty to do some work on the play ground. Miss Landers told him about The Great Swamp but he didn’t listen. She said his little tractor would just sink into it, but he said, “Lady, I do this all the time, so I know what I’m doing” and went on ignoring the teacher.
Any child knows it’s not good to ignore a teacher. The students would have told him if they had been there. But he was just too darn grown up to listen!
A few minutes later that tractor tipped just a bit. Then the man gunned the motor and the other three wheels followed the first one and found their way farther down into the muddy swamp.
Before long, the man told Miss Landers he had to go and get another tractor to pull that one out.
You don’t even want to know what happened next!
He returned later that day with a normal sized tractor. Miss Landers ran out to remind him not to drive on the swampy area. But he started with that “Lady” stuff again, and the she realized this adventure was turning sour one more time.
The Man With the White Hair who worked at the school had also tried to get the tractor guy to stay on dry land in order to pull the stuck equipment out in that direction.
Miss Popcorn gazed intently as the stubborn man drove right into the deep mud in front of the small tractor. The students later said even this silly goat would have known better! His feet sank way down into the muck as he hooked the tow chain on.
It sounded like a war outside as he kept gunning the motor over and over. The big tractor sounded really angry! Miss Popcorn Goat didn’t look bored any more that day.
Yup. You guessed it! It didn’t take too long till one side of that second tractor was over a foot under all that soggy stuff.
When the students returned on Monday, they dubbed it The Tractor Garden. They had enough good sense to stay away till it dried up. In a few days the ground was dry enough to walk on.
They made up a new recess game. Miss Landers said as long as she could see them the kids could take turns climbing on the tractors.
They played lots of games in The Tractor Garden. They even role played, acting like the man, but making a better decision.
The boy who starred in that drama said, “Miss Landers, I’ll come back another day when it has dried up a bit.” Another budding actor tried, “I’ll hook the chain on the other end so the big tractor can pull the little tractor without getting stuck.”
Boy, were those kids smart! They knew better than to go right into a swamp.
Later that week when the man came he had two other guys with him. They whistled and slapped their legs as they walked up on that big mess. Being out of tractors, they had brought a heavy equipment scooper to pull the two tractors out. This time the other two men did the work, and the man in the bill cap just helped them. These two men knew enough to keep the heavy equipment out on the dry area of the school yard.
The students had learned much about problem solving, patience, and even wisdom from watching the adults involved in The Tractor Garden. Maybe the man with the bill cap learned something too. Miss Popcorn was amused at the strange play equipment Tree Land School had for a few weeks.
The Tractor Garden was more fun for the students and Miss Popcorn than it was for the man with the bill cap.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.