In September, Welsh photographer Philip Jones posted this picture of Abereiddy in Facebook’s, “I live in Pembrokeshire and I Love it!” group. Being a country kid, I was immediately zapped back to childhood, even if our hay bales were small and rectangular.
Philip is generous to allow me to write another story because of his gorgeous photography. Make sure to check out his site.
The Last Harvest
Looking over the vast hay field, I sighed with contentment. The last harvest was in, the big round bales scattered across the land waiting for the trucks and wagons to come through and heft them up, deliver them to sheep ranches or store them for later sale.
The September winding down of summer and the slow drift into fall are balm to my busy days. Decades into my farming life, it is still this season that gives me a chance to take stock, think and plan for next year’s crops and customers and challenges.
I shake my head. Nope, don’t go there, not yet. Don’t do what I always do and jump ahead, looking so forward that sometimes I forget to be where I am. For the moment, let my boots sink into the rich earth where I stand right now and enjoy what the land has yielded to me.
Gazing across the golden field into the great distance, it looks neat and clean, organized with lines straight and true. But I look closely at what lies at my feet and realize there are Pixy Stix of hay left willy nilly along the rows. The stray strands that got harvested, but refused to get swept up into the bales. The little rebels are planning on wintering right where they lie.
Good for them.
I, too, would winter here, another season of my life spent in the place I’d been born, grew up and made my living. I’d made forays to America, the Caribbean, even that one very long trip to Hawaii. But my heart always brought me back to Wales. The coastline, the rocky hills and the fields where things could grow, both plain and colorful. This was my place and the love I have for it in the deepness of my soul brings me home time and again.
Scooping up a few broken stalks of hay, I held them close to my nose, breathed in the dry, earthy odor. Eyes shut, I imagined the ages spent plowing, planting, reaping these fields. My family history stretched back generations and I envision a great, great grandparent standing where I stood and pondering life as I am.
Like the land about to enjoy a period of dormancy before starting the cycle of growth and renewal, I’ll delve into winter, hunker into the brisk weather and indulge in the trappings of a few months indoors.