Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hayfield by Ralph Lauren


Yesterday was the first day of haying season. That means it's also the beginning of sinus headache season in my neck of the woods. For the next few days I can count on waking up feeling like my brain has turned into a bowel of overcooked oatmeal. Whoever invented the term "hay fever" obviously lived on a farm. It seems like every bit of pollen and dust stirred up by the tractor-towed bailing machine gets picked up by the fog rising from the river around midnight and then deposited at my doorstep.

Thanks to the rapid intervention of ibuprofen, the discomfort is not long-lived, and it's really worth the inconvenience. I love country life, having been raised in the country, and once the hayfield has been cleared, my dog and I can happily walk the perimeter. He loves the wide open space scattered with the remnant scents of woodchuck, deer, and wild turkey mixed with freshly cut grass. Actually, that sounds like a formula for cologne: Hayfield by Ralph Lauren.

Can't you see the ads? A strapping young (why are they always young? I'd vote for a little gray hair and some character if I was producing it) fellow steps off his tractor and strips off his t-shirt to wipe the sweat from his tanned, handsome (naturally) face and muscular chest (six-pack abs, of course), before sweeping a beautiful young female model in a white and yellow-flowered sun dress into his arms. The camera pans to a deer raising its head from the grass to watch, then to a woodchuck and turkey who do likewise. Back to the couple again, now gazing into the sunset, as the voice of the announcer comes up, "Hayfield, for the farmer in every man."

No? Oh well, can't blame a guy for trying. Anyway, the first year we lived here, we were hesitant about walking the field because of the poison ivy that proliferates around the edges. Either we've become immune or it's not as virulent as I feared, because we've yet to have a close encounter with contact dermatitis (the condition that results from poison ivy). The worst thing now are the black flies, little stealth bomber-shaped beasts that view any warm-bodied creature as fair game. Deep Woods Off is our friend.

Yesterday, some of my classmates took board exams and my date is a mere 29 days away. Another month and the hayfield will have grown deep enough for a second cutting. One more, it will be late September with the trees turning. When I was a kid, stories of rural life ruled by the change of the seasons had a strong appeal for me. I guess that's one of the things I love most about Maine, people are still connected to farm life -- even those in the cities who come out for apple picking or Maple Syrup Sunday in the spring. Mr. Timex or Miss Rolex can mark the minutes all they want, but Mother Nature still owns the time clock.


(Photo copyright 2010 by the author)

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