Last night, driving a back road home from checking on the fields we hay (the grass high and thick, lush from the frequent rain, more than ready for mowing if only things would dry out for a spell), I came upon a truck driving slow. In the bed, a male at some indistinguishable point on the spectrum between boy and man, his right hand clenched around the collar of a Holstein calf. The calf seemed calm enough and remarkably steady on his feet, and the young man/old boy looked to be enjoying himself, as one would under such circumstances: A warm evening, the scents and colors of the landscape emboldened by the recent showers, the joy inherent to riding in an open pickup truck bed, and surely on some level whether conscious or not, the companionship of the animal.
Then the young man/old boy turned his head, and the wind kicked his baseball cap into the air. It landed on the shoulder of the road, and I pulled over to retrieve it, and I could see him giving me a thumbs up with his non-calf-holding hand. Then I sped to catch the truck, which eventually pulled to the side of the road. “It’s a nice hat,” I said. “Would’ve been a shame to lose it.” He chuckled and thanked me, and they waved me past, which I was sort of sorry for, because soon the truck would be far behind me and what I’ve found is that life is mostly a series of moments in which nothing very much is happening, and so often the things that occupy our thoughts and fears and longings and even joys are not the things directly before us, but things that live in some unrealized future. And therefore do not live at all.
But on this evening, in this moment, on this little-traveled dirt road in Caledonia County, Vermont, something was happening. It’d be gone soon, swept into my rearview mirror and then my past, something I’ll remember for a while, but probably not for long. Which is ok, really: It was better when I was there.