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Won’t Even Notice

The ride home

Summer stretches on. It rains here and there, though never as much as promised, nor nearly as much as we need. Out early on my bike I pass fields of fresh mown hay, the smell of drying grass suffusing the air, one of those smells that feels curative in some ill-defined way except perhaps in the understanding that my life would be poorer without it. In the evenings I lie in bed and listen to the boys and their friends down in the orchard. They’ve built a fire, there’s music on someone’s truck stereo, they’re jumping in the pond, and I hear splashes and laughter and the drumbeat of a new song and I suddenly feel very old, too old, and worse yet, as if I’ve somehow misspent all those years. And perhaps in some ways I have, though I’m also sure that in other ways I haven’t, and truth be told, I think that’s about the best any of us can aspire to. Life is lived in fractions. Or that’s how it seems to me, anyhow.

The next morning I move the cows to a new piece of grass. They are sleek and fat, at their peak of summer flesh. The young heifer pauses her grazing to size me up, then moves toward me. I’ve got her trained to my affections, she lets me scratch behind her ears and along her neck. She’s a fine animal, a gift from an old friend who recently sold his herd. Now his barn’s gone, too, torn down and hauled away. Grass growing where he used to milk his cows, and I do a double take every time I drive by, looking for what’s no longer there. Though one of these days soon, I bet I won’t even notice.

15 thoughts on “Won’t Even Notice”

  1. Time misspent, time not misspent. That about sums it up, Ben. Applies to all of us, I think. Although some of us tip the balance of misspent vs. not misspent.

    Thanks for this piece and the photo.

  2. After years of reading your words, you are the last person I would think of as someone who has misspent time. I don’t know if you care for the label but you seem to be a pretty mindful fellow, never missing the opportunity to notice things – the small yet essential things. That, to me, is a hallmark of someone who knows how to live. And I’m sure you will cringe to read this but any writing that spoke of your boys (and there has been, thankfully, a lot of that) I studied like others might study Dr. Spock or some other parenting expert. You might not have intended to provide a parenting road map but that is what you have given me as I stand 8 or so years in your rear view mirror. I continue to be encouraged by what I see ahead and am glad to hear your big boys still like to jump in the pond as my littler ones do.
    The disappearance of the barn hits home, too. We had flooding here last weekend and several neighbors had their old footbridges washed away and the local church no longer has weeping willows lining its creek. Things look different and that takes some getting used to but the socializing that comes for us rural folks as we all get out and clean up is sort of a silver lining, especially when no one was hurt and the damage was manageable.
    Thanks again for the post and beautiful photo – Penny’s work?

    1. The photo is actually all mine. Penny mostly posts to her IG feed (in the sidebar, if you haven’t seen it). Mindful… hmmm… well. Sometimes yes, maybe. Sometimes not so much. Hope you’re doing great.

  3. Man, fabulous f*cking work. No matter what, you can say things is the most remarkable and relatable ways. Thank you for doing whatever it takes to do so.

      1. Relatable, Ben. And I can’t help but feel I was *just* the same age as Emily. How on earth am I about to start receiving AARP mail?

        We passed you peddling in the opposite direction on Rt 5 one morning last week. Seemed like an inopportune location to say hello so we waved and carried on. 👋🏻

  4. Farmer Churchill’s barn that you and the boys used to muck?

  5. Always a good read, thanks. I’ve been wondering over the last few weeks how Melvin is? Just now and again recently its popped into my mind how your boys used to help with his milking and the hay making (although i think that was elsewhere).

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