Bulldozing and Seeding

Leon continued bulldozing yesterday in the rain. He was a tiny figure in orange foul weather gear on a tiny machine in a big clearing.

Lucy loves the spindly, tufty cherry trees that were left by the loggers (“Please leave any hardwoods,” I’d said). To me they look ridiculous, like truffula trees in Dr. Seuss. To Leon they look like a potential hazard (cherry leaves are poisonous to livestock). To Allen they looked like firewood. But to Lucy they are exactly like the trees on the savanna in her favorite movie, The Lion King. I imagine I’ll have to cut them, but for the moment they linger, making my daughter happy.

While Leon cleaned the top quarter I seeded the south half with winter rye. I carried the bag over my shoulder and paced off the ground, cranking and spreading seed.

“Lots of cranking!” Leon called.

I stopped seeding and walked over to him. “Yes. Do you know a better way?”

He grinned. “With a machine!”

“Can’t afford one,” I smiled back.

I’ve seeded the whole property with this little bag. If I were really old-timey I’d spread the seed by hand, broadcasting it, but that requires skill to avoid leaving drifts of seed amid bare spots. I don’t have the coordination.

The heavy bag dragged on my shoulder and my boots slipped in the mud. Rain dripped off the bill of my baseball cap. Still, there was something timeless and satisfying about walking on cleared ground, spreading seed in a light rain.

I kept remembering a poem in the novel Apple Tree, Lean Down by Mary Pearce. This is an old favorite of mine that I reread every year or two. The historical farming details are perfect. In the story, a teacher in London in 1910 comes upon these lines in an Early English textbook:

Smale birds on plowed londe;

A man sowing sede;

Softe wind bryngen rain:

God lette these abyde

Till I come againe.

Small birds on plowed land! She is so moved she immediately quits her teaching job and returns home to the country. I’m in the country, but I am just as moved.

God let these things abide.


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