Saturday, December 8, 2007

Much More Than Hay

Hay has been the main crop to come out of this field for the last several years. In the winter, when there’s a lot more snow on the ground than today, we enjoy cross country skiing here. We glide around the field, elevated above the earth on a cushion of snow. Then we used to cut through an opening in one of the stone walls and circle an adjacent field as if it were a track. When I saw the sky this evening, I decided to come over and snap a few photos. I’m not sure how long it will look like this. A “For Sale” sign has gone up and the hay field has become a potential building lot - just like the adjacent field did a couple of years ago. Now it has a very large, very handsome home on it and we no longer ski there.

One autumn, several years ago, a neighboring farmer and his family were keeping cows farther up the road. Their fences were neither strong, nor in good repair. So from time to time, we would look out to see a small, straggling herd of cows out for an exploratory stroll through, what was then, mostly corn fields. We would hurry over, pick up a stray cornstalk and slowly guide the gentle beauties back toward home. Inevitably, one of the farmer’s kids would come racing toward us to bring them the rest of the way back. We’ve had a lot of fun in these fields.

I don’t begrudge the owners the right to divide their land up and sell it as they see fit. They’re following all the zoning and building bylaws. It’s hard though, to watch a piece of land, through all four seasons, for fourteen years and not feel some sadness, as it now lies on the verge of a significant change. In fact, I know the owners are in conflict over their decision. But it involves family and finances and fairness and I do not envy their difficult choices.

Tonight, as I watched the cotton candy clouds scudding over the pond without a name, I hoped for heaps of snow this winter. Enough snow for us to glide around this field, sun glinting off the crystal flecks, wind buffeting our bodies and reddening our cheeks. Enough snow for us to fill our store of memories, before a “Sold” sign goes up and the big equipment begins to rumble and reshape this land.

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