I haven't written in a while. I have been a little sour or dour or maybe it's just the winter blues. Perhaps it is the incessant bombardment of horror stories that make up the news. Or maybe it is the childish, selfish behavior of co-workers. Either way, I try not to let the doldrums last and I try not to write too often during these times. I realize some of my views are polarizing but I also believe that stringing a bunch of negative subjects together only serves to entrench the bad attitude. And so to combat this downward spiral, I turn to hay season.
With hesitant winter not really gripping the Northeast, we have, on the farm, already started our preparations for the coming warmth and the need to once again harvest hay for the wintering animals. Servicing the old tractors and individually servicing the machinery keeps the homestead busy. Planning the strategies for the coming warm months' labor keeps the blues at bay. Searching for parts or perhaps that "last" needed tractor implement even keeps sessions at the computer away from boredom. Grandpa is the mainstay on our farm, performing most of the maintenance by himself. When he is not battling the snow, he is keeping warm by making ready for the growing grass. I provide the muscle, for the most part. I am the farmhand, the laborer, the walk-beside-the-tractor-and-throw-the-bales guy. And, I am happy.
I look forward to the weekends filled with riding the tractor through the fields under the summer sun. I do not mind the sweat on my brow and the sun on my back. The hum and rumble of the tractor drowns out the whines and whimpers of the work week. My labor is for the farm and is rewarded in fresh eggs and happy horses and a brimming garden made thick by manure as fertilizer. Throwing bales onto the hay rack is more a test of strength and endurance than a true chore, a sick, macho game of counting. The work is not weighed down by cubicle politics or cry-baby antics. It is merely a man in a field with his mind on the work at hand and, possibly, a few moments to enjoy the blue of the sky or the kiss of the warm afternoon breeze. It is a cold beer in the shade of an old maple tree when the work is done. It is the satisfaction measured by the weight of the hay wagon pulled by the tractor. It is knowing that my labor is for me, my family, and my farm and is paid out in self-sustaining richness contained in mason jars and egg cartons.
To fight away the winter blues and the other ever-increasing surrounding negativity, all I need to do is open a summer-filled mason jar, crack some eggs (maybe some fresh bacon to go with them), and light the grill. A wintertime bar-b-cue to bring summer around, riding on the grill's smoke.........