The great transformation came late this year. A rainy summer has made the farmers way late with their haying. Only last week, at the very last possible chance before the crop would become to poor to be worth gathering, a few days of sun meant fields everywhere were lined with machines, cutting and tossing the overlush growth.
We had almost given up hope of seeing the Singing Meadow cut. It feels important to preserve the open, sloping field from the ever-encroaching forest. All too quickly, the pioneer aspens will finger their way beyond the edges. Shrubby sumachs will appear in hollows. Very quickly the field will become unsuitable for farming. Once this happens, the land will lose important aspects of its rich diversity.
So it was with gladness that at long last we caught the promising distant clacking.sounds. At noon we rushed down to speak with our farmer neighbor and to admire the fluffy rows of newly cut hay. By moonlight we went back to look at the newly opened field, where now it would be much easier to walk at will. We smelled the rich hay fragrance through the heavy dew.
Now the story of a summer here is wound tightly in the solid round bales. There is a new spareness to the meadow which saddens us, even as we appreciate its place in the rhythm of the country year. Along with the gains there are inevitable losses. A coyote brazenly slips along the curve of a hill, hunting for exposed mice. A few of the abundant leopard frogs did not escape the mower. There will be no more chance to see summer’s tawny black-eyed susans.
As we thoughtfully make our way back home from the valley and the field, we are left with happy memories from last year’s haying. Then our son Jeremy and our little grandson, Liam, played happily among the giant bales, making a festive thing of the end of summer.