How It’ll Be

We’ve had enough rain the past few mornings to ease the worse of the dryness, which I’d begun to experience in a bodily way, as if the soil’s thirst were my own. But despite the rain, it remains dry, the stream is low, the pond is low, the pasture grass slow to recover. It has been hot, too, which I’ve found to be only as unpleasant as I believe it to be. Yesterday I ran in the thick of the heat and humidity, like pushing through a wall, my shirt drenched before I’d gone a mile, pleased with myself for the effort of it, though later I couldn’t seem to drink enough water to sate myself, and was glad I’d not pushed too hard.

Later, I drove one of my usual routes on my way to one of my usual destinations, passing one of my now-usual sights: two women, one middle-aged, one older (mother and daughter?) sitting in one of those self-contained swinging love seats in the lawn of a mobile home at the highway’s edge, enjoying the company of a large goat. I’ve passed this scene three times this summer, once with three women rather than two, but always the big goat, an astonishing presence, a real double-taker, all floppy ear and spindly leg, tall as a small pony. A person could ride a goat like that, I figure, a notion that elevates my delight even further.

Still later, on the cusp of dark – so early now – I dive into the blessed wet chill of the pond, rinse away the dirt of the day, let it mingle with the clean spring water bubbling from some crevice deep below. I don’t want summer to end. But it will, and soon, and I guess that’s just how it’ll be.


Straight From the Jar

P1040057Walking through the orchard to feed the pigs, I stop under an apple-heavy tree to gather drops. Even as I fill the bucket, I hear the thump of more apples hitting the ground, like a clock ticking down the minutes until winter. The pigs are happy for the apples, they eat they voraciously, one bite and an apple is gone. I will bring them more this afternoon.

Later, I halter Pip at the height of the knoll overlooking the house, the barn, the old church steeple. The air is thick with humidity. I wish it would break to rain. We need the rain. Pip’s calf lingers nearby, watching as I take my share. I watch him back, then turn my gaze to the steeple. Milk fills the pail.

Still later, a shower. It is only passing, but the sky remains dark, the air still heavy. Maybe there will be more. The milk is cooling in the fridge. Later, I’ll drink it straight from the jar.


Things in General

Sunday morning. The cats wake me earlier than usual, and for a moment I’m unsure if it’s night or day, but slowly my eyes adjust and I can see faint evidence of daylight’s impending arrival. The days are notably shorter now, and if I count the number of weeks until probable frost, it does not add up to very many. It has been a good summer so far, a proper one, hot and dry and full. I allow myself a few extra minutes in bed, the cats pacing, daylight advancing, listening for the mountain stream, the distant water-on-stone murmur I love so much. But it’s gone, low and quiet again in the absence of recent rain.
Later, after chores and breakfast and the assembling of the tools necessary to the day’s primary task, I run my usual out-and-back route. I run for 30 minutes and am passed by one tractor and one truck, and see one black bear. My iPod settles on Iggy Pop’s The Passenger, and I am reminded of a story I wrote a dozen or more years ago for Runner’s World about an ultrarunner named Dean Karnazes and his attempt to win a 135-mile race across Death Valley. To report the piece, I assisted on Dean’s race crew, and I remember pacing him through the night almost 100 miles in, me on a bicycle, Dean running doggedly, and that song on repeat blaring through the open windows of his support vehicle. Every so often, he’d stop to puke or piss or shit, then shake himself off and start running again. He won the race, though it didn’t stop me from wondering why people sometimes do the things they do.
My family is gone for a while, and I’m glad for the solitude, so rare in my life. Though of course at times it tips into loneliness. But even that’s ok. Besides, I have the animals – the cats and the cows and the clucking hens – and I have more tasks before me than I’m likely ever to finish, or at least that’s what it feels like. I have friends just down the road; last night we sat outside by a fire until late, solving the world’s problems until fatigue compelled us to part (besides, there were no more problems to solve, we’d fixed them all!), and I drove the mile home up the gravel road, windows down to the soft night air, feeling pretty good about things in general.

A few things to share:

This amazing interview with Robin Wall Kimmerer

Here’s the piece I wrote about Dean Karnazes

A beautiful essay by Donald Hall about solitude and loneliness

Oh, and Iggy Pop’s excellent song The Passenger