by Baloney Bill
Recalling long-ago days visiting the farm; the largesse of my mom, my grandma & the earth.
Grandma's gray hair clippings,
swept neatly from the kitchen floor
and tossed to the breeze
in the chicken yard.
This, among a multitude of
scenes, are behind us now
as we drive towards home.
The farm still plays through my
nine-year-old mind like a
dream where if you wanted
an apple or grapes you just
walked out to the orchard
and picked them. Or, because
we could, my sister and I
went jumping from the
hayloft into the bales below until
we realized we were being watched.
The cow, large and quiet,
calmly chewing and observing,
made us feel like intruders.
So we crept out of his quarters.
Into the machine shed,
where sat Grandpa's old tractor,
the one that flipped him
so long ago -- the story of how he
lost his eye comes back to us.
We touched the old metal quietly,
in awe of the machine that would
do that to our stern old Grandpa.
We went back in the house,
the quietest place I have ever known,
quieter than Church, where
the only sound was the ticking of
that beautiful mantle clock brought
from the old country. That clock
seemed to inspire quiet, to demand
respect for the solemnity of each
passing tick. We sat quietly,
listening to Mom and Grandma
talk for a while. Grandma seemed
to sense our growing restlessness,
and dished us up some homemade
We snuck off again after that
until we heard Mom call. We
ran all the way up the pasture's
hill from the stream below,
arriving just in time to watch
the customary exchange of
provisions from town to country,
from country to town; my mother
and grandmother playing the
visiting and host ambassadors.
All these snippets of life, recorded
but behind me now, as we travel
the winding road back to town,
the scents of fresh-baked bread
and homemade lye soap, a bushel
of yellow apples, and boxes filled
with concord grapes, tomatoes,
cucumbers and beans from the
back of the old station wagon
blend with the early autumn smells
of the countryside whizzing
past my open window, and the
fresh scent of Doublemint gum
from the front of the car where
Mom is chewing earnestly, battling
the bad steering of the old Chevy
against the shoulder of the road.
There is wind in my hair,
and the warm sun on my face,
and the meadows are full to
overflowing with clover and
black-eyed susans among the long,
green grass, and the entire
scene is in motion in the wind
like a water-colored ocean.
The car slows then, that timeless
Saturday of childhood, and my
sister asks before I can what is wrong.
"Nothing," Mom says, but she pulls the
car off to the side of the quiet road
just the same. Kills the engine.
Without the car running, we hear the
twitter of the birds.
We look up and down the road, no
cars coming in either direction. Mom is
rummaging around in the back of the
station wagon and finds scissors.
"Come along," she says, and we
follow her down into the ditch
and up the other side.
I wander away for a while and get
my feet wet. She speaks sternly,
but a tiny upturn at the corner of
her mouth tells me she is just saying
what moms are supposed to say
She begins cutting
cat-tails and pussy willows, and
after asking us to hold out our arms,
she lays nature's art across them.
That Saturday, the bounty of the
world was revealed to me. Gardens
and orchards overflowing with
fruits and vegetables. Fields and
meadows like watercolors. Human
resourcefulness and kindness. The
power of machinery. The fruits of
hard work, the joy of sharing. The
love that passes from generation