I saw an old man coming in from his field tonight, right beside the Muddy River. He was wearing a button-down, old, wool plaid coat with big pockets in the front. Remember those? My father used to wear one. This was before we had new-fangled things like gortex and whatnot decked out with shiny zippers and sticky velcro. In those days in the winter, you either wore leather/fur or you wore wool. If you were poor, you wore wool. We were very poor, so my father wore wool that had seen its better days decades earlier. Hand-knitted wool mittens and ancient greased leather boots completed the ensemble. We were so fancy.
|Life on the river.|
But anyhow, the old man was coming in from his field. He lives a bit away from me, so we don’t know each other, but I’ve been watching his field for a long time, year after year. I’m always interested in knowing what people do--not their “job,” but what they “do.” His field is just across the road from his house, which is hidden nicely in some trees. It’s not a big field as fields go, but it’s plenty big for his needs. Every spring he plows it up and plants. I can tell by what he plants that he grows all of his own food, certainly a lot of good storage crops. If you’re planting for one (and he is because he lives all alone), the field really doesn’t have to be too tremendously large. He always has a good harvest.
There he was at the edge of the field near a wooded area that extends beyond. He was moving some fallen branches and fixing a bit of fence. He’s always out there working. It was starting to get late and dark, and I wondered how long he’d stay out there. I imagine until the job was done. I doubt he wears a watch, though. There was no lighting nearby, and the road has no street lamps. Of course, he probably knows it like the back of his hand anyhow.
He’ll be back at it tomorrow, winterizing the property, gathering wood, splitting what he already has, fixing fences, and then fixing them again. He has long since “retired” from his job in the outside world, and now he works at his job in the inside world. It’s a lot harder but considerably more peaceful. I doubt he misses the outside world with jobs that require the moving of one large stack of paper from one side of a desk to the other side of a desk every day, and every morning, there’s a new stack. It’s maddening.
The big concerns now are making sure the food is all stored properly, checking on the fermentation, bottling the wine and beer, keeping the woodpile accessible during the coming ice, making dinner, and planning next year’s crop. I hope there is a next year’s crop for him. I think there will be. Someday the planting will end, of course, but not yet. For now the cycle continues, there is much work to be done, and life is good.