Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hauling from the Res

I should go to bed, it’s 10:30 pm., but scenes from the day roll through my mind.

We hauled hay from the reservation again. Three of us were driving the eight miles there and back while Mark loaded from the field. The venture began badly when a hose broke beneath the Ford tractor and started a fire that totaled the machine. I saw the black column of smoke before I could see what was causing it. I had to drive my truck around the bend and across the field - so glad to see Mark standing away from the blaze. After the excitement was over, my nephew brought his tractor over and we continued.

Hauling hay is hot, sticky work. Hay leaves blow in the windows, which must be open to avert suffocation. The vinyl seats fuse to your clothes. At about 2:00 pm with lunch in your belly, staying awake is the challenge. Today I caught myself in a near-doze state tooling down the pavement.

Our fleet of trucks have character, impressive only to the aficionado of old things.  The ’67 Ford runs pretty well, never mind the springs coming through the seat. The ’73 International is cherry. It hums when it’s empty and handles more like a pickup than a 2-ton truck. But the passenger door was torn out and the replacement is none too good; the window is broke and the rear view mirror is loose. The new truck, the ’77 Ford, is a workhorse and feels stable and secure. It has deluxe recovered seats, and since the handle got fixed, we can now open the passenger side door.

Just as the hay hauling day gets to be total drudgery with no end in sight, the sun droops toward the horizon and long shadows cross the road. My mood changes. I get my speed up, and as the wind courses through the cab, I lean forward to feel the coolness of sweat drying on my back. The spud fields are in bloom, white blossoms on green in geometric rows. An unnamed fragrance fills the cab and is gone. A pivot sprays near the road and sends a light mist my way, along with the musty smell of wet earth.

As the heat abates, the community stirs. Rone mows circles in his lawn, and there’s Joanie on her bike. Susan is watering her petunias. I should call her and invite myself over to sit on that white wicker chair - preferably on some hot day when shade bathes her porch.

The haystack at ranch headquarters swells. We've found our rhythm and one thinks we could haul all night. 

Ranching is like that. Life is like that – for me anyway. There’s beauty in the minutiae and that's my lesson, for I tend to focus on what’s wrong, not right, my worst trait. I want to be like those people who pick out the joyous details, for those are the ones who live happy lives.  

Dang, now Mark will be asleep and I won’t get any cuddles – speaking of joyous details. 

the Shoshone-Bannock Reservation - good country

another load

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