Thursday, July 25, 2013
A TIME TO REAP
The haying is almost done. Put in by my 74 yr old neighbor who has been kind enough to help since we moved here. He's wiry with skin as weathered as the old equipment he drives but still moves with that spring in his step. His favorite sweat encrusted hat is turned up and patched this year where it has frayed. Around his neck is an old rag that he dips in the brook to cool himself. I see him stop the tractor several times to look for pheasants in the tall grass and watch him pop a few babies in his shirt pocket.
" I can't save them all" he says. But he tries.
I like him. He is an ad for the values I've come to appreciate as I get older. Hard work, tenacity, perseverance.
The two lads that show up to help stack the barn are a quarter his age but he can out do them both. They sweat profusely, guzzle water, and compare blisters while he works around them.
I'm probably riding in a small pocket of misfortune right now but I've had a hard time getting good young men to help out. They lack strength, fortitude, foresight, and plain old common sense. They should know how to stack wood, fill gas tanks, tie a slip knot. These are things they should have learned from their fathers and grandfathers. They complain of allergies, bad backs, fear of heights.
One young man left the top two feet of our barn doors unpainted as he was afraid to go up the ladder further.
I wanted to tell him that when I was his age I went sky diving. I jumped out of a plane at 3000 feet. I was scared too. But it was Sunday and I spread open to the silence and finally descended close enough to hear the organ playing in the little country church far below me. I wanted to explain it all to him. To tell him there is nothing to be afraid of in this great country of ours, our charmed world. The only thing he should fear is that extra 85 pounds he was carrying around, the little fat globules clutching the side of his young arteries.
But he is not me.
I tell the young men to go to the swimming hole to cool off. I bring lemonade and more water. I ponder over how much I will pay them. I worry the hay will not be all in before tomorrows rain. But then the miracle happens. A car drives in the yard. It's the neighbors wife and she's here to help.