“Do not misuse or abuse a ladder.”
safety instructions on the side of a 28-foot extension ladder
The ladder makes a perilous bridge, but it’s better than nothing. The ditch by the pasture only runs when there’s a flood, & then it’s a torrent. So I ran for the ladder, laid boards down & drove the goats across it in single file. It only bowed a little.
Another time we hung it in the well all summer — a handy rack for the hams, to keep them cool. Whenever we needed one, I’d climb down the ladder with a rope around my waist, groping around between my legs for the sweating bag of meat. Somehow, pigs belong under the earth. It’s where they’re trying to go all their lives, pushing their snouts into the soil like soft bulldozers.
When we were making bricks & needed a mold, once again — you guessed it — we used the ladder. Mud, straw and sun, a simple recipe. True, we got fined for building without a permit, & we had to take the tower down. But it sure made people talk!
Now for the barn dance, they’re giving the ladder pride of place in the hayloft, in front of the amps. Some kid with a drumstick is banging on the rungs, eking out a tune from all the variations of abuse.
Outside, the fiddler draws his bow against the barbed wire fence, like the louder little brother of the wind: an eerie sound, as unapproachable as the horizon. It makes me want to climb on out of here.
For a righteous rant on warning signs and safety labels, see here.