Summer’s End

The sense of summer slipping away is palpable, almost physical, and I feel the impending loss of the season, as if there was something as solid and distinct and tangible as summer to lose, as if its edges did not emerge and dissolve by degree. Calendar be damned.

Still, even as I write this, I hear the sound of my younger son doing as I asked, which was to fill two 5-gallon buckets with apple drops for the pigs. He’s down in the orchard but the sound of the apples against the bucket bottom carries well, and for a moment I wonder if there is any other sound just like it. Deciding that maybe there is, but if so, I do not know it. Deciding that if ever there were a harbinger of summer’s end – whenever, however it might come – the sound of apple drops against a bucket bottom would be it. Slow-changing colors of the green hills be damned.

Yesterday, driving a dirt road far from here, but as like the ones close to here that I might have been only minutes from home,Β I met an oncoming tractor towing a hay wagon, a young man at its helm, the empty wagon weaving gently side-to-side. I pulled far over and he waved, looking tired. It was near the end of day.

Our older son is gone for four months. There’ll likely be snow on the ground by the time he returns. A sizable dent in the woodpile. The house feels quiet, neat, and bigger than it needs to be. I hugged him goodbye, wishing I’d thought of something small to give him, something to mark the occasion. But I hadn’t. Maybe I’ll think of something for his return.


26 thoughts on “Summer’s End”

  1. Ben – How old are your boys now? They were little guys when I first found your blog in 2013 (I think it was!).They’re just starting out on their productive lives and I’ll soon be phasing out of mine. I will be 75 in October and have decided that I will finally actually retire from commercial farming at that point. Or as soon thereafter as I can get everything sold. I hope that you will continue to update your readers from time to time; a couple of us farmers here on the Nebraska prairie have been discussing your postings for at least five years.

    1. They’re just about to turn 15 and 18, respectively. Thank you for reading along all these years. It gives me no end of pleasure to think about farmers in Nebraska reading my words. That’s a gift to me.

  2. Hard to comprehend that your older boy is of the age to be gone for 4 months…please keep up with your writing, as I treasure each post….

    1. thank you, Sarah. I always enjoy writing here, and then wonder why I don’t do it more often…. and then don’t;)

  3. Another reader amazed at the passage of time even though I have boys of my own. I began reading your work when I was expecting my first boy and he is now 8, the same age or so I think your boys were at that time. So grateful I found your words when embarking on my parenting journey. Though I am sure you don’t consider yourself a parenting expert πŸ™‚ I have been inspired by all you have written about your family. Wishing you a peaceful passing of one season into another.

    1. My boy is 8 too. I think he was somewhere around 1 and a half when I heard that fateful interview re: the Outside article.
      Yes, grateful – we are too. Influenced my life a great deal. Ben, you woke me right up. πŸ‘

      1. It’s reached “done enough”… I’m gonna take a week off soon to get as much siding on as possible. Can’t rush into it. Haha. Thanks for asking!

      2. Ha! I know all about “done enough.” We reached that point with the house we are building in June and are just happy to be living in it even with all things still to do. It’s a marathon, for sure. Peace!

      3. I remember now that you planned to build. Did you blog it? A marathon is right. Doesn’t it feel good to finally live in it? Congrats. Peace to your family too.

  4. Mr. Hewitt….The feelings that travel through my body when I read your writing are indescribable. They’re feelings of peace and solitude that feel clean and unadulterated. Serenity. Beauty. Whenever the constant turmoil in the world gets to me I’ll read a few stories from your archives and they again show me the existence of things that truly matter. How unfortunate that those who create the turmoil can’t see, feel and communicate what you feel and see. Their loss. Thanks so much.

    1. Yeah, the red maples are starting, some of the weaker hard maples. ‘Course, probably not down your way, in the banana belt;)

    1. R-LB – I may be one of the few of Ben’s readers old enough to remember Fiddler on the Roof when it first came out. And Sunrise, Sunset . . . was/is the the most emotional song on the album. I still brings tears to the eyes of this great grandpa, certainly more so now than when I was a teenager.

  5. I’ve had to wake up a little to the fact that my daughter is going through puberty, and growing up. Makes me realize how dependent I am on her emotionally, and the thought of her driving a car someday and being any sort of distance away from me, well…….that shit hurts. I better go get myself a self help book, or something:}

  6. You gave him a thirst for knowledge, love and independence. Pretty good gifts for his pockets. The missing is visceral though.

  7. The corn is starting to dry down to a golden yellow, but the soy beans are still emerald green. If the weather holds it looks to be a bumper crop, but with about half the hogs on Earth dead or dying from African Swine Fever all over China, there isn’t much of a market for it. There are going to be millions of bushels of corn and soybean stored on the ground, in bins, and in rail cars that will be parked on sidings and semi-abandoned tracks all over the midwest and west until it finds a market, but how long can that go on?

    Did you know that there are more acres of corn and soybean planted in Nebraska than there are total acres in all of New Hampshire and Vermont combined?

    Where is Fin off to?

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