When the heart isn’t happy, it seeks happier times to remember… My heart seeks to be in a hayfield right now. Not just any hayfield though, Dad’s hayfield. The big one behind the house and across the creek. The one you can just barely see through the cottonwoods when you sit on the back deck, I want to be there right now, not here.
I want to be there hitching the 686 to Dad’s old New Holland rake on a bright sunny June morning as the dew burns off the hay waiting to be baled. I want to be there to smell the sweet fragrance of the alfalfa hanging heavy in the air, so heavy you almost don’t smell the exhaust from the idling tractor. I want to be there to smell the way the grease from the rake’s gear box mixes with the smell of the hay and when a bit of that diesel exhaust blends with it and finds it’s way to my nose, it becomes an intoxicating scent so powerful I can still smell it today. I want to be there right now, not here.
I want to be there to drag that rusty old rake through the field for hours as the hot morning sun bakes my bare arms. I want to look back and see the way the spinning basket lifts the flat swaths of alfalfa and orchard grass and folds them into windrows for the baler to pick up. I want to look out across the field and see the straight rows I’ve made drying in the sun. I certainly don’t want to be here right now.
I want to be there to spend a hot summers afternoon bouncing around on a wagon behind the baler stacking heavy, dirty bales of hay as Dad drives the tractor. I’d rather be spitting chaff from my mouth and clearing it from my eyes as the brownish green dust clings to my sweat than be here right now.
You know what’s funny though? Back then, on that wagon, I wanted to be anywhere but there.