The maize harvest is in full swing with vast machines, the frightening fronts of which consist of a line up of what appear to be giant razorsharp corkscrews rotating at terryfying speed and resemble some sort of a Heath Robinson contraption, persuaded by tractors and trailersat a measured pace into which the machines spew the mulched corn stems leaves cobs and all to be stored under tarpauling in great pits for winter fodder for the cows. The last cut of hay has been made and with it has come warm weather and a plague of biting flies that pester nip and pooh on everything. Its enough to drive anyone mad.
Every day I pass the tractors with their drivers accompanied on wednesdays and at weekends by young sons or cousins or brothers riding in the cabs. The safest place for a farm child to be during the maize harvest is in the cab high above the terrible machines where he can be seen and kept an eye on and not be tempted to wander off into the maize field to be accidently mulched himself.
Farmwork is a family affair, and at Harvest the family grows to include all the other workers who are pulled in to get the job done. This means providing lunch for everyone at midday. My friend was telling me at dinner last night that she had had 2 days of making bouef bourginione for 15 and soup for supper for thier harvesters and at the same time doing the milking and all the other jobs usually shared out because everyone was harvesting the maize. Her husband was telling me of a woman on another bigger farm who had to feed 26 men each day over 3 days and still get a herd of 150 cows brought in and sent out to the fields as well as milking cleaning the milking parlour and feeding the calves.
It was a sobering thought after a week of feeling pathetically sorry for myself and crushed by , what can feel sometimes like the overwhelming responsibility of single parenthood . Weekends are the worst. During the week I can easily occupy my day with all the necessary things that need doing and in the evenings by the time I have fed and watered all living creatures here, both human and animal ,and made sure homework is done, things sorted for the following day , ears are washed behind, teeth are cleaned and bedrooms vaguelly, if not entirely tidied ,before bedtime stories are read I am so tired all I can manange is bed myself. But weekends are full of empty spaces where family life and routine used to be, Sundays especailly. No matter how much fun and chatter we have, how much dog walking and play, no matter how good the sunday roast is or what dessert I make to fill the empty space and the long silences which their father has left in our lives would hang above the days if we let it, even after 7 months, like a brutal grief that as hard as I try I can not eradicate. I hate that.
No that is far too melodramatic many women have gone through far worse than I, many children suffered more and it is important to remember that life before was worse not better. So I have taken the advise of a good friend , when ever I miss him she said, just remember the bad times, the lies the cheating, the drinking, the unpredictable temper and imagine having that all back again. Its a horribly sobering thought. Its no good crying over spilt milk, as my mother used to say, he has left us and he is no longer the man I loved and fell in love with he is someone else now and that man has gone for ever.
Today I took the neighbours small boy and his sister and our combined pack of assorted dogs for a walk through the fields to collect acorns for the goats who munch them with the delight of children gourging themselves on bonbons. The stubble is bursting with delicate colour from the wild pansies which spring up every year after harvest and across the sky arced a vast and perfect rainbow hung over us.
I have many things to be thankful for, my children, our home, 3 mad labradors and above all life itself and the joy of being me.