It’s not every day I meet a strawberry farmer on Roberts Street. I’d seen the man walk past my home dozens of times. When I was outside weeding and trimming my overgrown tarragon forest, he stopped to chat.

He looks like a farmer who tinkers with tractors. His jeans and plaid shirt with snaps were brushed and cleaned but stained. The man’s hands were working mits built over decades or turning tools and coupling plows to tractors. He smelled faintly of industrial grease.

He’s Chuck, the Keweenaw strawberry farmer who taught me about commitment in a can.

Chuck has farmed strawberries on High Point Road for more than 30 years. He thought he might retire, but then he started repairing some of his old tractors. Chuck even went into the bush to retrieve an old bailer that folks from the 1940s left behind. Fixing the tractors made him realize how much he loved growing Copper Country strawberries. Come next spring, he’s going to start with new plants.

Chuck told me he found commitment in a can. He’s reviving his tractors one can of paint at a time. Each new can, he recommits. After he finishes painting one tractor red, he’ll count the cans to measure the work. It made me wonder, where do writers find commitment to their craft?

What’s your “can”?

I think of the can as a container and that connects me to images, which are the containers of dreams and stories.

It’s a quick post this week because rumor has it, Kid and Pal’s creator was seen in the Wisconsin woods. Maybe it was just a Bigfoot sighting, or an optical illusion caused by the Paulding Lights. But I have to go check it out.

July 25, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story based on the phrase “commitment in a can.” What is the commitment and to whom? Describe the can. How does it expand the story? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by July 31, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.


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