COLUMBUS _ ``Never did like Edwards,'' said Uncle Chet as he backed up the utility tractor. ``I just liked what he was saying."
"The `two Americas' stuff,'' I said, grabbing an end of the heavy chain that was draped over the draw bar. I hooked it around the base of a honeysuckle bush, one of dozens that were choking the pond.
Buddy and I backed away as the driver revved the diesel engine and the chain played out. It rose up from the wet ground, tautened, and after a brief struggle, the invasive, red-berried bush came out by the roots.
He throttled down, dragged it away.
"I can see the water,'' said Buddy.
"We're making progress,'' I said, and we followed the tractor, unhooked the great gnarled weed and tossed it onto the truck bed.
"You're building quite a brush pile,'' said Uncle Chet.
``We'll burn it this winter.''
"Can you still do that?''
"I think so,'' I said, and poured a glass of iced tea from the large orange thermos.
``You can,'' said Buddy, who is getting ready for second grade.
``Thanks,'' said Uncle Chet, taking a cup of tea.
``I want one, too,'' the boy said.
``Coming right up.'' I filled two more cups and threw one down the hatch. The day was cool but muggy. Dark clouds were swirling low, and I thought I heard thunder in the distance.
``At least Obama didn't pick him for veep,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Then the whole race would have degenerated into who's been worse to his wife, Edwards or McCain."
"They'd have to bring up the Clintons, for perspective,'' I noted.
``And the senator in the men's rooms, congressman with his page, everyone's dirty laundry to keep us distracted, here at news central. While Russia attacks Georgia and we gear up for Iran and the polar ice caps melt and the government gives your land rights away to run power lines, gas lines or build a Wal-Mart, we'd be debating the merits of Edwards' sex life.''
``What's a sex life?'' asked Buddy.
``Ask your uncle,'' I said.
``It's a,'' he looked at his watch, ``quarter past two and we'd better keep hauling.''
``True,'' I said.
``What's a sex life?'' asked Buddy.
``It's something almost every male politician has, and you have to wonder about the females,'' said Uncle Chet. ``Cheatin' politicians are as American as apple pie, from Washington to Eisenhower, Kennedy to Clinton. Sometimes it's laughed off, as it was with Newt, and other times it's fatal, as it was with Gary Hart.''
"I remember Hart,'' I said.
``Give you ten bucks if you can remember who he took on the `Monkey Business.'''
``What's the `Monkey Business?''' asked Buddy.
``It's a boat,'' I said over a rumble in the distance.
``And this man who was running for president, Gary Hart, took his girlfriend for a ride on the boat and got in trouble.''
``Why?'' said the boy.
``Because he was married.''
``No,'' I shook my head.
``Ten dollars for that name,'' said Uncle Chet.
``Her first name was Donna,'' I said as the tractor backed up toward the next honeysuckle bush, this one wrapped in a prickly, white-flowered vine.
``I don't remember the last,'' I took the chain by the hook, crawled under the canopy. This bush fought hard, but eventually it was encircled and I crawled back out.
``Donna Rice, the former Miss South Carolina,'' said Uncle Chet as he eased forward, watched the chain play out. Then after a brief struggle, another pretender was dragged up by the roots and consigned to the pile at the end of the field.
Cooperstown News Bureau Reporter Tom Grace is traveling with his Uncle Chet, who he says is imaginary. Grace's column appears twice monthly.