Wheel barrow races across the living room floor were a nightly activity with Dad and my siblings in my early childhood. It took strong arms and a will not to laugh or fart, which would cause the barrow and handler to collapse in a heap on the floor, inciting other competitors and spectators to pile on.
It was years before I made the connection between that two-person transport and the real wheelbarrow Dad used in the garden. I was a little slow connecting the visual.
An odder visual I had of wheelbarrows occurred during my short visit to a small village on the coast of Turkey. Early one morning as we wandered, the market was just beginning to come alive with vendors slowly and deliberately swinging wide the doors to their stalls – just so – and hanging their richly colored goods on the makeshift walls.
We stood patiently on a side road, taking in the scene, then I approached the first stall.
Suddenly a small tractor with a front loader attached rounded our corner and sputtered past us. It looked like the one in this picture (click on picture to enlarge it):
Seated in the now-upright front loader were three women – one elderly and two middle-aged – all with colorful head scarves but dull, shabby clothing, clinging tightly to the edges of the loader as the tractor rumbled over ruts and rifts in the dusty dirt-hardened road. An elderly man wearing a beige-colored robe squeezed onto the driver’s seat alongside the younger male driver who was dressed in brown pants and heavy, dark green jacket.
I flashed on our childish wheelbarrow antics from so many years ago. As odd as the scene in front of me appeared, I knew this was their normal mode of transportation, and I wondered how I would fare if “barrowing” was my only option for transport.