Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Heart's Ease...

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.


Pondside said...

Wow - I'll bet that felt good. You've got a LOAD of reasons for feeling down, but you have a great capacity for hauling yourself back up. You are truly amazing! The year of 'firsts' has to be the hardest and after that your memories will be of the four of you. It sounds like life at your house is riotous and jam-packed full of activity - let it sweep you along when you need to be carried.

Frances said...

You've taken me right to your part of Brittany with with post, and I have learned a lot about harvest time, gigantic lunches, and also more about what you have been experiencing as the weeks pass by.

Let me thank you for the image of goats munching acorns like bonbons. This is something my inner eye never before knew.

I applaud you for your energy, wisdom, humor, realistic view of life past, present and future. I wish that we could sit down for a glass or cup or even just take a walk to watch the goats gobble acorns.


bayou said...

Those harvest times and so many hungry mouths to feed remembers me of my grandmother's memories: Every day at least 18 farm and bakery people to feed, 4 children to educate alone as the husband got missed in Verdun, an old badly tempered father-in-law to cope with, all the farm stock to look at and manage the farm, household and bakery and family all on her own. I admire the strength of those tough women! I also admire your strength and can only echo Pondie's and Frances' words. Today is future's beginning!

Tattie Weasle said...

What a wise friend! If you are used to something however horrid when it stops you will miss it and look for it because you became conditioned. Now you are living again and you will find joy in doing so even if it is a bit alien at present. And 7 months isn't so are fabulous!