Transmission accomplished

Last week we went to the Cape Cod Organic Gardeners’ annual potluck. I’m surprised they still let us come, since our commitment to organic gardening lasts only until we see bugs in the collard greens, but they don’t seem to hold that against us.

One of the members had brought a brochure for a workshop entitled “Voluntary Simplicity,” about, presumably, living simply without being coerced. Kevin leafed through it, and stumbled across a cartoon of a guy who was showing another guy the bumper of his car, where he’d just affixed an “I Love the Simple Life” bumpersticker. “I love that bumpersticker so much,” the proud owner was saying, “that I put in on all three of my cars and both my boats.”

Needless to say, I did not think this was funny.

The paraphernalia required to live in a shack and grow your own food never ceases to amaze me. Our garage is an environmentalist’s nightmare, what with the toxic chemicals, heavy-duty plastics, and gasoline engines. And then there’s the three cars and the two boats. And don’t forget the three trailers! We’ll need bumperstickers for those, too.

It’s when something breaks that I really question the need for all this stuff. This week, it was the truck.

Our pickup truck is a 1999 Mazda (a Ford Ranger by another name), and it started acting funny a couple weeks ago. The overdrive light on the dashboard would start blinking after you drove it a couple of miles, and then the shifting (it’s an automatic) would get heavy and rough. We gave it a few days to make sure the problem wouldn’t just go away, but no such luck.

While we were waiting, though, the dashboard of our 2004 Saab lit up like a Christmas tree. This could be because the car knew it had recently come off warranty, or it could be because Kevin drove it on the beach and got its entire underbelly coated with sea grass. (And a flat tire in the bargain.) Either way, it needed attention.

That makes our 1970 Land Rover our most reliable vehicle.

We took the truck and the car to Gus, our mechanic, and asked him which repair was more urgent. The truck, he said, and recommended a transmission shop he knew and trusted.

Yup. It needed a rebuilt transmission, a job that cost fully half of what the truck is worth.

I will admit to balking. It crossed my mind that we could live in Manhattan without any car at all, let alone a car, a truck, another truck, two boats, and three trailers.

But then it crossed my mind that one of the best days I’ve had in the two years we’ve been doing this was this past August, when Kevin and I took the boat out to Horseshoe Shoal, in Nantucket Sound. It was a beautiful day, and we caught bluefish after bluefish as we circled the shallows. I’d been working extraordinarily hard, and to be out on the water, untethered from the Internet, alone with my husband, was glorious.

A day like that requires a boat. A boat requires a truck. A truck requires a transmission.

I’m not giving up days like that

3 people are having a conversation about “Transmission accomplished

  1. We often have the discussion of need vs want, and in the meantime stuff accumulates in the house and small outbuildings regardless.

    If we can ever help with Landy parts, we have numerous new and used Land Rover places around here. No pizza, no sushi, but Land Rover parts up the wazoo. I never though I could do without take out, but then growing our own has made up for it, for those same quality of life reasons you mention. It doesn’t stop me eating my own bodyweight in Dunkin Donuts cruellers when I go home and visit though.

  2. So, the simple life is not only complicated, it can seem to get expensive, too. I still think the trades I have made in order to simplify(?), or at least improve, my life and living life in the here and now were, and are, worth it. If living life in a way that makes me spend more time in prayer and meditation costs more money than a life spent with more swearing and medication, I will pay. I am so grateful just to be on this side of the dirt, and having one more day to spend that way is a blessing that no sum of money coulod possibly buy. To me, anyway. By the way, a clutch is usually a lot less money than a rebuild or replacement automatic. I learn the hard way, but I do learn.

    Spend more time catching bluefish. It will give you less time to disperse the haz-mats and wreck your serenity.

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