They hayed our fields a few days ago, taking advantage of the dry, crisp weather, and now the bales have been left to cure, sitting like hair rollers on the earth\’s scalp.
For a couple of days after the mowing, hawks and vultures wheeled overhead, looking for any beasties that had fallen victim to the blades. I was glad that the doe that gave birth in the front field had long since taken her fawn to the shelter of the woods.
While the grass was being cut and baled, I kept having visions of those paintings by Brueghel of plump peasants cutting wheat and sitting in the shade to devour huge lunches. And I remembered my childhood summers in the Catalan countryside–I am ancient enough that I can still hear the swishing of the scythes….
But this haying was largely a one-man affair, loud not with carousing voices but the sputtering of engines. Brueghel\’s well-fed farm wives bearing the mid-day banquet were replaced by young women in shorts who drove up in cars several times a day and stood chatting with the farmer. I don\’t think they brought him any lunch. But the smell of the cut grass was the same as I remember from childhood, the same that filled Brueghel\’s nostrils as he painted.
The mower took down several good-sized stands of Saint John\’s Wort, which had punctually started blooming on Saint John\’s Eve (which coincides with the solstice). I was sorry to see the plants with their delicate yellow stars and their leaves pierced with pin-sized holes go, but somebody\’s cows are going to be extremely relaxed this winter.