Today’s lunch, to be accurate. Somewhere between starting a bowl of cold tortellini and finishing it. The wind blew. As it always does at peak moments in the protagonist’s tale. The halyards clink against the mast or the corn brushes against its neighbors, and everything comes into focus.
“It was a moment like any other.” It always is. In books. In movies. At lunch. Out of nowhere. That’s how it was, with the crew sitting around the table having a weekly meeting, saying nothing new and nothing novel. Everything, in an instant, sharpened, and the welling up that comes in breaths just bellow the breastbone began.
It’s not the first time this has happened to me farming. The first time I was steering a red Farmall cub back to the barn as the gloaming slid through the Berkshires and into the valley. It’s happened when I stop cutting mesclun mix for a moment to notice the bird’s nest fungus growing in the rows. And it happened at lunch.
It’s not to say that I haven’t experienced these moments (which I have yet to name) outside of farming, but it seems that their frequency has grown exponentially since I began spending more time dirty than clean. The farmer is a unique character. We work long hours for little pay and we love it. That’s why we do it. Surely there are countless other professions where those engaged in daily ritual find themselves full of the hope and wonder of their childhood self. But this is where I find it.
Those who love farming and are able to keep their enthusiasm have only one secret that I can uncover. We play all day. Like when we finally finished our homework and could run down to the park until dinner. Serious natures don’t get on well here. Our crew this year has spent the past 4 months replacing the word “love” with “lunch” in songs, books and common phrases. Try “Lunch Shack”, “Hey, You’ve got to hide your lunch away”, “Lunch in the time of Cholera” and “The Lunch Bug.”
Earlier this year we started a “law firm” to file a class action suit on behalf of our 2,000 laying hens. They were suing for harassment in the workplace. On other farms we filled out days with word games called inky pinky, either/or and contact. We even once created an entire alter-reality of southern farmers with names like Jim Bob, L’il Hank, Dutch, Emma Lou, Lula Mae and Dorthea. Not to mention Penny “Nickel ‘n Dime” Tucker.
And you thought farmers only talked to their corn.
The secret farmers know is how to enjoy a moment as if they were children, through the filter of their years of growth into adulthood. This growing up makes more sense to me than any I was prepared for or expecting.
And I can have ice cream for dinner. Quite frequently do.