This morning I drove the back roads home from Jimmy and Sara’s dairy, the bed of the truck carrying soured milk for the pigs, the air still heavy with the remnants of yesterday’s storm, the news radio doling out its too-familiar tales: Gold medals and handguns. Burning cars and swimming stars. Politicians I can’t make sense of, though maybe I should try harder. Or perhaps I should try less hard; maybe that’s the trick.
I turned the radio off and listened instead to the sound of truck tires on the wetted gravel road, the splash of water at the puddles, the lowing cows at the farm where a fence runs along the height of a hillside pasture, wires and posts etched against the sky. I always watch that fence when I pass, and I pass it often. And I thought of the young man who drowned three days ago at the pond a mile down the road from my parent’s house, the house I grew up in, 15, maybe 20 miles from here. I learned to swim in that pond, and I recalled this morning how once a friend and I were messing around there; I was in the water and he was on the shore and he lobbed a softball-sized rock in my direction, meaning just to splash me, but his aim was too good, or his arm too strong, or both, and I could see the rock coming for me as if I were calling it in. I was trying to run but too slow because running in water is always too slow, so at the last second I dove, scared and sure of injury, and indeed the rock fell directly atop my back, but I was deep enough that it hardly hurt. My friend almost cried, he felt so bad, and I told him it was ok. But man: I was pissed.
Back home the pigs get their breakfast, and I stoke the fire for another coffee. Firewood today, I think. It’s not going to be summer forever.