Filthy Tired Rich
June 24, 2013 § 9 Comments
The past few days have been among the most hectic, rewarding, and flat-out delightful of my hopefully-not-yet-even-half-over life. On Thursday we got the call that our help was needed in the field, so the four of us skedaddled across the valley, where I commenced to fire up Martha’s big John Deere and ted hay (this is the process by which mown hay is whirled and spread with an egg-beater like attachment known as a “tedder” so that it might better dry under each precious minute of sun). I love tedding; it’s the most brainless of all haying tasks – a freaking monkey could do it, which makes me particularly suited for the job – and basically consists of riding long, looping circles through the field under the high, hot solstice sun. Hell, yeah.
Whilst I tedded, Penny and Martha raked the dry hay into windrows, and every so often, I’d catch a glimpse of one of them atop the old Farmall’s, sitting tall in the seat, the rakes leaving endless dusky green waves in their wake. The boys, I knew, were fishing in the little pond at one corner of the 25-acre field, and for a couple of hours I was blessed by the sense that every little thing in my life was exactly as it should be. A field full of hay, a sky full of sun, my boys terrorizing the local population of perch, my wife waving from across the field, even the old, hot, snorting tractor beneath me: What more, really, could I even want?
I departed the field in early afternoon, en route to dinner with Jim and Wendy and a reading at Battenkill Books, in the profoundly lovely little town of Cambridge, NY. The post-reading conversation was exactly as lively as I’ve almost becoming accustomed to, and I was tremendously pleased to finally meet the indefatigable and hugely inspiring Jenna Woginrich, along with Jon “I did five blog posts before you even woke up” Katz. By a quarter to twelve, I was pulling back into our driveway and past Melvin’s hayfield, where, at the far end of the field, I could just see the lights of his big New Holland. Haying at midnight. Here’s an idea: Don’t ever complain about the price of a gallon of milk again. Not that you would. Just sayin’.
By 5 the next morning, we were deep into chores and preparing for a huge day. Twenty-five acres of square bales ain’t no joke, particularly since Martha’s baler does not have a kicker, the contraption that hurls bales high into the air and (usually) into the wagon behind. I’ll cut to the chase and just say that by 9:00 that night, we had each and every last bale off the field and under cover, at which point we collapsed into our beds, bodies still covered in the souring, half-dried sweat of our exertions, to which innumerable bits of chafe had become stuck.
Friday, I was up early and on the road to Woodstock, NY for Barnfest, a wonderful event made all the more wonderful by the surprise appearance of a friend I had not seen in nearly two full decades. I had not even known he lived in the area, and we spent five full hours chatting and eating and drinking and again I had that sense of all the odd little pieces of my life slipping into place, like the completion of a puzzle you didn’t even know you were putting together.
I suppose there is no real point to this post, which is probably indicative of the fact that I am currently walking a ragged edge of exhaustion. But it is a good exhaustion, a tangible sense of satisfaction and gratification for a barn that is full of hay, the work that put it there, the blessing of being invited into so many conversations, and friends that appear after decades of absence. So, yeah, I’m tired. But as the subtitle of $AVED suggests, I’m also feeling like the richest guy in the world.
And in a strange way, I know that even my fatigue is part of my wealth.