Thursday, January 17, 2019

Poppy 2.0

Welcome to our world, Poppy 2.0!

On Christmas day, while I lay home sick in bed, Tim, Katrina and my mother managed to have a little encounter with a pretty deer on their way home from a gathering at my brother’s house in Hartford. 

Both the deer and Poppy, my beloved car, lost.

First I would like to make clear that if I had been along on that trip, the collision with the deer would never have happened. No, not because I am a great and wonderful driver, although it is true that I am, but because we would have been a few minutes later leaving. It’s a fact that whenever Tim and I go anywhere it always takes me a little longer to say my goodbyes and get out of the house.

But alas, I was not along. And so there is one less deer in the world, which makes me very, very sad. At first Tim said that they did not see the deer anywhere around after the accident, so then I spent a few days worrying about the welfare of the deer. Was she hurt and suffering? That bothered me quite a bit. Fortunately, we made another trip to the Sioux Falls area just a couple of days after Christmas and when we drove past the scene of the accident we found the deer lying dead in the ditch. I was greatly relieved. I mean, I wasn’t happy about the death of the deer, but it’s better than a wounded deer wandering around in misery.

My sweet Poppy, however, is also dead. She was only six years old. I am not sure how that transfers in car years - is it like dog and cat years? I do know that she had a lot of life left in her.  She only had 177, 000 miles on her, which, despite the fact that the insurance agent said was quite high for her age and the state we live in, was just a drop in the bucket as far as we are concerned. We knew she still had a lot of miles to go. 

Poppy is only the second vehicle I’ve ever owned that I actually liked. My first car was an ugly green machine, a Buick, that was larger than my house. It got me where I wanted to go, but beyond that it had no redeeming qualities. Then Tim and I owned a little red Ford. It wasn’t a compact. It was okay, but nothing great. And then we bought our first compact car - a Mercury Tracer. “The Tracer” we called her. We loved that car to her death and beyond - literally. She was fun to drive, fit our little family of four perfectly, and got great fuel mileage. I mean, when you have a hamster on a spinning wheel for an engine, all you need to do is make sure the hamster is well fed and has plenty of water to drink - that makes for great fuel economy.

When The Tracer sprung a leak in her radiator and we were told the expense of fixing her wasn’t worth it I think she had close to 200,000 miles on her. So we bought an Olds Bravada. A big, green machine. You think that maybe I would have known that green Olds were not good investments for me…but I hadn’t figured that out yet. Oh, the Olds was okay, it too got us where we needed to go. Surprisingly, despite its size, it didn’t have as much room inside as one would have expected. And I didn’t like that vehicle, either. I remember when we first brought it home and parked it in the garage and The Tracer had to sit outside. I felt so bad for The Tracer. Doomed to sit outside in the cold.

We had a funeral for The Tracer. About a dozen people gathered at our house on a cold October evening. Actually, it was a combination funeral and wake. We put a funeral spray of fake flowers on The Tracer and parked her, white smoke billowing out as we did so, near the front door of our house, for people to view as they came. We drank wine (the wake part) and conducted a little service. I had printed up memorial folders for the guests and made a memory board on which we hung photographs of The Tracer from trips and events we’d made over the years. Alexandra and I sang a couple of songs, including Woodie Guthrie’s Take You Riding in my Car. We shared memories. Then we served the funeral dinner: hot dish, several kinds of Jello, buns with butter and assorted cupcakes. We had a wonderful gathering.

The Tracer got parked in a shed until spring, when someone told Tim about Barr’s StopLeak and he dumped a couple jugs of that into her radiator. Lo and behold, right around Easter, The Tracer was resurrected! We continued to drive her for another 150,000 miles. What a trouper she was.

Towards the end, the real end, she was going a bit senile. She started doing strange things like not shutting off when we’d turn the key off and take it out of the ignition. Or she’d change radio stations when we turned the corner. If you opened the hatch, the radio would turn on - or shut off. But we loved her all the more for her oddities. When she finally died for good with over 350,000 miles on her, we were ready to let her go.

After The Tracer, we went through a couple other beasts - big vehicles that just didn’t flip our switches. And then, six years ago, we found Poppy. Our cute little compact Chevy Sonic, complete with an exercise wheel and a hamster. The perfect car for us. And we fell in love all over again. 


Alas, Poppy died before her time. Our hearts are broken. Fortunately, Chevrolet has not discontinued making Sonics and so we have adopted her little sister. We are so very excited. In the interest of keeping things simple, we’ve decided to call her Poppy, also. Poppy 2.0. How wonderful to welcome you into our family.

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