By Jim Hagarty
I am a singer.
During the first 20 years of my life, I performed hundreds of free concerts. They were well attended. I worked my magic on a unique, slow-moving stage, sitting atop the leather seat of a John Deere AR tractor. The concert halls were the 335 acres of plowable fields on my family’s farms. My inattentive audiences were the birds, mice, snakes, foxes, squirrels, ground hogs, raccoons, dogs, cats and cattle that occupied the fields where I practised my craft.
No humans ever heard my dulcet tones. And that is just the way I wanted it. I learned how to project my voice so I could hear myself over the noise from the tractor. I always knew I could not be heard by anyone in the vicinity of those fields. The tractor sounds were too loud. That was fine with me, as I tended to the shy side.
One afternoon, towards the end of my John Deere days, I was standing in our farmyard when I heard something going by on the concession road at the end of our lane. It was a farmer singing at the top of his lungs as he rode past our place on a tractor. I couldn’t hear the tractor. I realized the tractor noise must have been travelling through the air on a lower and slower sound wave than was the farmer’s voice. His voice reached my ears loud and clear; the tractor putt putt, not so much.
It was an awakening. I realized that at least some of my back forty concerts were probably heard by humans somewhere who happened to be in the vicinity. If I had known I actually did have non-critter audiences, I might have charged admission to my shows and be a rich man today.