This week’s weather has been hot and sticky, just the kind of weather you’d expect in a dripping wet rain forest with the heat turned up.
This hot weather has me thinking about the farm work we did in the summers. Going back to when I was twelve, at home on the farm. Any day that looked warm and sunny was usually a hay day.
My dad would say, ‘sure hope the hay won’t be too green to bale’. That meant he hoped the hay would be dry enough. Once it was cut, it needed to dry in the hot sun for a day or two. Then he’d put it into windrows.
The wind rower would pull behind the tractor and would grab the hay and spin it into a nice even, fluffy pile of hay in the form of a long row, like a never ending fluffy snake. A day or two later, when the hay ‘wasn’t too green’ 3 or 4 of us would go out with the baler and hay wagon and bale the hay. The 3 or 4 would be me, my dad, my brother Max, and maybe one of my other brothers too.
The smell of the hay is still as clear in my nostrils as it was then. Something dry and crispy about the smell, like wafts of weedy dryness with the sweet mixture of clover and alphalpha.
I would usually be pegged to drive the tractor. This was a job I did not enjoy because it forced me to stare at the row of hay and keep the front right wheel of the tractor exactly to the left of the row of hay as I drove. Even straying one way by a few inches would mean the baler would miss a little bit of hay, and there’d be a yell from the hay wagon. That would be my dad’s voice, booming over the roar of the tractor and the clanging, repetitive sound of the baler, repeatedly banging out 50 pound rectangular bales of hay.
Now that I think back, I realize I had to be totally mindful, forcing myself to keep my brain on one thing for an extended period of time. Ummmm. Maybe that’s why I’m good at meditating today.
Once I got into the swing of driving the tractor, I usually didn’t mind it so much. After all, as long as I kept the wheel of the tractor exactly where it was supposed to be, I was free. I was free to think of anything else I wanted. I could sing a song in my head. I could imagine where I’d be in ten years from now. I could think about the book I read last night, under the covers with a flashlight till 2:33 in the morning. I was free. Wow, what a feeling.
Woops, keep that wheel in the right place. Oh, there goes a field mouse, frantically racing out from under the windrow. Looking back at the wagon, I’d make sure Max and my dad were keeping up with the bales, repeatedly spitting out of the baler, onto the hay wagon.
Looking ahead at the field, I’d realize I’d better get ready for the end of the row. That was the most stressful part. I was supposed to know where to go. Right, left. Which new row to choose? I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want to get yelled at; that’s for sure. I was supposed to still gather as much hay as I could in the headlands and then turn down the row my dad wanted me to. I’d stare at him; try to read his body language. Maybe he’ll give me a clue, I thought, so I don’t feel stupid. Hmmmmm. How am I supposed to know, I’d wonder?
Eventually, the hay wagon would be piled high, like a rectangular tower of solid bricks. My dad and brothers were always proud of how high they could build the load and still keep it solidly on the wagon. The wagon only had a rack on the back, the sides and front had no racks or supports, so the way the load was built, was what kept it together. One by one, every bale was put in its place, each one was important to holding it all in place.
Focusing on that one thing was my lesson. I had to learn to ignore the hot sun, the ear-shattering clanging of the baler, the obnoxious, burning hot diesel fumes pouring out of the tractor, the sharp, angry yells from my dad. I was practicing mindfulness even then, even before I knew what the word meant.
How do you practice mindfulness in your day?
Send me an email, email@example.com and tell me an activity you did in the past which made you a more mindful person.
Till next time mindful tribe, use what we’ve learned today to reach new heights of calm, focus, and happiness. Stay in the mode.
- Focusing on that one thing was my lesson. – Bruce Langford
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