On the final evening of August I drive home from Jimmy and Sara’s with buckets full of milk for the pigs. Already the light is waning, and I pass a field of head-high corn, the leaves so deeply green I wonder if green is still the right word, but no other comes to mind. I pass grazing cows, just off evening milking, udders loose, heads bent to the shorn pasture. I see row after row of firewood under old roofing tin, the tin weighed down by rocks and old tires. A poor man’s woodshed. I have one, too.
Those who took first cut in early June are onto third cutting; everyone else is into second and that’s all they’ll get; the grass is almost finished growing. But it was a good year for making hay, at least this far north. It was hot and we got just enough rain just when we needed it.
Once home I carry a bucket up the hill to the pigs. They crowd the trough in anticipation. I pour the soured milk over their heads and they shake it onto me and so I curse them, an order of business as predictable as a stopped clock. The pigs do not have long to live, but lacking this foreknowledge they are free to enjoy the moment for what it is: A bellyful of milk. The sun slinking lower in the sky. A breeze so soft it might not even be a breeze at all, and I realize there’s something else I don’t have a word for, like the nameless feeling I have right now, milk-splattered and a little shivery in the cooling air, watching the pigs drink, considering the deaths they don’t know are soon to come.