When you get to be my age — or as a boss said to me some years back: "Let's face it, Marion, you've been 'round the horn a few times." it's comforting to see some things — anything — that's still the same, that's been around as long as you have.

I lived a lot of years up and down this country; lived in the northern-most state, the southern-most, the western-most and in between — back and across — before I came back home t'Maine to roost over three decades ago.

Out in the Midwest and in California the farm fields are being worked by mega-machines. Huge tractors and combines and other machinery that looks like it came off a Star Wars movie lot. Mega-machines, complete with air conditioning, that put mega-mortgages on farms. The farmers have from very little money to big negative balances left come year's end.

Back home here, I sold advertising for Midcoast newspapers for some years and had regular occasion to call on all the big farm equipment outfits up and down and across the Midcoast and inland area.

They don't have the behemoths of the West, but they do have shiny new green John Deeres and the sleek new blue Ford tractors and such. But I ask you: When's the last time you saw a big, shiny new tractor anywhere around here?

I've rambled all over the highways, byways, back roads and trails and I've yet to see any tractor that could claim to be much younger'n me. Most have long lost their original color and sport basic rust — which may be what's holding them together. Some are splashed with new coats of shiny red paint, or whatever color someone had enough of lying around. It's more of a hedge against more rust than to pretty it up. I saw one the other day parked in the farmer's field with a "For Sale" sign. It had a fresh coat the color of a California poppy (the tractor, not the sign). It sat there proud as a big flaming orange peacock — even if it had been 'round the horn a few times.

Mainers, somehow, have hung onto some of the frugality that kept people free and independent. They still, pretty much adhere to the old saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And somewhere along the line they've added:

"…nor buy a new one."

Debt enslaves. Besides, as a farmer friend says, "when them ol' tractors was made, they was made to last." And they were made simple and with strong parts so's the farmer could fix 'em over and over again. There was no such phrase, nor practice, then, as "planned obsolescence." (Bet you won't see many of those big, shiny new contraptions being made today still plowing and cutting hay 50, 60 years down the line — if you can ever find out who in Maine is buying them in the first place.)

Yup. I love to see the old tractors all over our countryside that are still doing their jobs, simply and well. And they've been paid for for decades. And, when they need repair, all’s ya need, so it was said, is “a hairpin and a rubber band.”

Besides, it's comforting to see that something's left that's as old as I am, still in working condition .

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.