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.


14 thoughts on “In the Morning”

  1. Thanks for this morning view.. I had forgotten the smell of a hay field. It is sweet and unlike any other. And the old guys digging and planning. I love this! xoxo

  2. What a pretty little piece of writing, Ben. Love your description of drying hay. Exactly what I felt this week, but of course, did not have such words for.

  3. Hi Ben……I derived the same kind of reassurance in this post that you got on your morning ride described so well here. Now I’m onto the rest of this day where reassurance doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Be assured that I’ll read this again later today and again tomorrow. Like all your writing, it really helps. Thanks!

  4. I’ve read your book (some time ago) but have only recently found your blog – yes I’m a little slow:-) Your posts are an asset to the soul when everything, well almost everything, outside of the soul are chaotic. Thank you.

  5. Old men, like me, like to garden and raise a few recreational livestock because when the plants and animals grow toward their intended use it shows that we’ve accomplished something that is tangible and not something produced via computer code that can be gone in a single key stroke.

    The World isn’t broken, there just isn’t a clear path to proceed on or a common cause that we, as Americans, can rally behind. Maybe COVID-19 will prompt us to become more self-sufficient, exporters of quality, rather than a Country dependent on imported Chinese goods to stock the shelves of our increasingly disposable economy.

  6. Grounding, real, and beautiful, as usual. Thanks Ben! You must not be getting the water we are in WV.

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