In the Morning

In the morning I ride my bicycle past serpentine windrows of drying hay, the smell unlike any other, sweet and strong and reassuring. I ride past the tree farm with the big gold-painted rock (because nothing screams “prosperity” like a big gold-painted rock, don’t you agree?), past a small vegetable farm, past Annie out riding her horse, and almost past the free pile, where I find a very nice pair of boots that’s only one size too big, and an almost-as-nice pair of sneakers that fit quite nicely. So I ride on, my new footwear tucked under one arm, laces flapping in the breeze, soon passing two young women pushing a stroller built for four, though only three seats are occupied, and I can’t help but joke that there’s just enough room left for me.

They’re kind enough to laugh.

I’m at the base of the mountain road on my way home, now, right past the house with the Trump 2020 flag, and here I leave the shoes behind a tree for future retrieval. Another half-mile and I spot an old man working in his garden. He’s just bought the property, which I know because it formally belonged to our friend Michael, who is himself moving onto 160 acres, where, he tells me, he hopes to die. Eventually.

I stop to introduce myself to the man in the garden. His name is Larry, and I’m guessing he’s 70 or more. White tee shirt, kneeling in the dirt. Baseball cap. He says he’s planning to get a couple heifers to eat down the surrounding grass, and this, like the smell of the drying hay, is reassuring, because a world in which old men work their gardens and plan for heifers to eat their grass isn’t irretrievably broken. Close, maybe. But not quite.

I say goodbye to Larry and head for home. The sun is high now, and hot, and the mountain stream runs low. I can scarcely hear it as I ride.



Just Hang On

June. The cows are on new grass. The apple trees in blossom. Friday’s rain ushered in a cold spell that feels almost fall-like, but still everything is growing, growing, growing, pushing skyward, full of new life, even as the world disintegrates into tiny shards of glass. I ride my bike, passing an old dairy farm, three young men in the barnyard. They’re gathered around an old John Deere tractor, tools scattered in all directions. I soon pass the herd, out grazing a rough piece of pasture. Their big heads swivel as they watch me pass. Jersey’s, mostly. So big and quiet.

Later, having ridden the gravel road miles further, to the point at which it has narrowed to a muddy track and then even a little further, I pass back by the cows and soon, the barnyard. Only one man working on the tractor now. No sign of the others. I descend a long, steep hill, pedalling faster and faster, until my eyes water with the speed and I’m out of gearing and there’s nothing left to do but just hang on.