Sunday, June 08, 2008

making hay while the sun shines

Yesterday evening I rode with my husband to pick up a load of hay, our first of the season from the favored local growers we love. I had never been to the hay farm before. We went first by the house, where his wife showed me around, offered to give me a seedling of a lovely umbrella tree I admired come fall, and then led us down the country road to the field where the hay was being baled and stacked.

On the way out a great blue heron sailed in and landed on a dead tree in the pond.

The part of the county where we were is simply stunning. It looks like something out of an old movie, and it almost seemed like time slowed down as we drove, slowed down and then rolled backward.

The hay grower's wife helped my husband load bales and I counted. When we were done, and had written a check, she asked if we'd be okay to wait a few minutes because the hay stacker was on its way with another load and she didn't want us to meet on the narrow dirt driveway on our way out. A young man helping out brought a glass of cold water to my sweating husband. We stood and watched until suddenly the tractor, hay stacker, and a cloud of dust came barreling down the lane.

He backed it up expertly and deposited 517 more bales with the already huge number under the gigantic shelter. I don't think I've ever seen that much hay.

To someone who has horses and has stressed over finding good hay, lived through a year of drought, and paid top dollar all winter, this was akin to standing by a bank vault holding millions of dollars stacked in piles. Wealth, indeed.

Even more charming though was the chance to see the hay come in from the field, listen as the men talked about a broken belt that would delay the baling, the thousands of dollars it would cost to replace it, and laugh because what else could they do? Curse, I suppose, but they went with the flow of the moment, which was selling good hay to happy horse folk, who felt the price was more than fair and were somewhat pie-eyed at the sheer amount of the green stuff under that shelter. Not to mention mightily impressed with how much care and knowledge and risk goes into making hay.

There was something quite magical about the evening, hot as it was, with the slight edge of crisis cutting the sweet scene.

My husband asked on the way home if I might one day write a story about him. This is as close as it comes, right now. He careened down the road while I fussed about the speed. We both remarked on how wonderful it would be to live on several hundred acres with all that rolling grass and the big century old trees guarding the farm houses. Dealing with the heat and the rain and broken belts.

We stopped by the grocery store on the way home to pick up sherbet and popsicles. He was covered in hay dust and wore rubber muck boots, and didn't want to go in. But he did, and the timeless quality of the evening extended a bit further. The way the light was in the grocery and the bits of hay being left along the way reminded me of the open air market my father ran for a brief time when I was little.

So the story wasn't one I'd written, but it was one we lived for a couple of hours, that started years before and made a circle back to itself. Little girl in the open air market eating the rare white twinsicle, who wanted nothing more than a horse. Woman in a small town grocery store, walking out into the hot dusk to a horse trailer filled with hay, carrying lime and orange sherbet and lime bars and hoping they wouldn't melt before she got home.


Matthew said...

Your written descriptions of that trip are more beautiful than the photographs I wanted to take of the fields with round bales and cattle grazing under the setting sun.

I'm very glad you got to see that wonderful countryside.

Grey Horse Matters said...

The hay farm sounds like a place from past times, I can imagine standing there and just drooling over all that hay. All in all it seems like a nice outing, especially the ice pops on a hot night.

billie said...

Thanks, Matthew. You should go out there one day and take some photos in the afternoon sun. I'm sure you would capture the essence of our drive.

billie said...

Hi, Arlene... it was a nice way to transition from the day's heat and sun into cooler evening temps. It really did feel like a Twilight Zone episode, or a Ray Bradbury story, where we transcended the calendar and went back in time for that load of hay.