When I was a teenager, I was ready to get moving. To make some money, to go to college, to get out of the country, to see the city, to be on the move.
I had worked the field, I had weeded and harvested the garden, I had mended the fences, re-roofed the barns and sheds, split the wood. I learned which parts of the field to work at which times of day, cause it stayed in the shade, or had the breeze.
I would work for all the neighboring farms, doing labor and putting that money away for college and a car.
That work was hard, cutting the hay on the steep parts of the field with a scythe, and then raking it down where the rake and baler could get to it. That work was hard, dragging and cutting downed trees from in the woods, making firewood out of it, and walking it up to the truck to haul to the house. That work was hard, running the brushcutter (an old Stihl - I can still recognize the smell of two-stroke gas) to pull out the stands of multi-flora rose and blackberries from the fields, and finding yellow jackets nests, and trying to get the thing over my head so I could run away.
Then, at the end of the day, I’d grab a bar of soap and go to the river, getting a cool down and a bath at the same time.
I ran away from all of that, just about as fast as I could. It’s been ~20 years since I harvested a garden. I can’t remember the last time I ran over a yellow jacket nest.
And I miss all of it.
I miss the clarity of purpose. I miss the feeling of doing hard work, getting a reward, and knowing the job is done, even if for a little while. I made it - my work is in my mind now. I get paid to think, to know stuff - which after talking to my Dad, who had worked hard labor in the mines and the mills, had come home with hurt shoulders and torn muscles - was the goal all along.
But I hate the feeling of grinding, with no end in sight. No matter what I write, no matter what contribution I make to “the discourse”, it will never have that feeling of accomplishment that I got from standing by the truck, drinking a quart of water, and looking back over that field.
Its a strange dream, but I dream of being able to return to the farm, to take the rust off the scythe, to get the vegetables from my garden, to mend the fence, to split the wood.
I Miss The Life I Once Had - West Virginia