Bales of hay
Bales of hay, not on my field. Below, right, The Farmer taking them away.
The inclement weather forced The Farmer to return a second time to turn the grass he had previously cut and turned once. I did not observe the work, but the result struck me as artistic. The grass, quite dry by now, lay in a dishevelled rumple and you could almost see its joy for all the air that was now able to go through it. The field was a blow-dried landscape of lovingly tousled cuttings; to stride on it was to experience a tufted softness that even Fluffy seemed aware of, as the caution of his first steps showed.
Only two days later the baler came around. Childcare duties prevented me from leaving the house to watch the process. But when I came out that night the field was transformed. Underfoot was the hard ground again, something not experienced for many months, and, at irregular intervals, there stood these monuments of compressed grass. They have the shape of squat cylinders, more or less as wide as they are high, so it is debatable whether it is right to say that they are standing when part of their curvature – rather than one of their flat ends – is touching the ground. Or should one say that they are lying on their side? Whatever the correct terminology, the hay bales were imposing. They only came to the height of my chest, but, as you knew if you tried to push one to roll it over, they were very heavy. None yielded an inch to my push.
The night was dark and, ever fond of natural light, I was not switching the torch on unless it was necessary. You could feel that you were about to hit a bale from an intensification of the darkness at a couple of feet’s distance. It may possibly have been an aural phenomenon too, the sound of your steps reflecting…no, the bales’ surface was much too rough for sound reflection. Sound absorption was more likely; a deadening of the sound of your steps forewarning you of impending contact with a bale of hay.
The following nights were not quite so dark, and you could make out the bales’ silhouettes against the background of the cloudy sky. Their random placement around the field seemed less random each night, till their positions became fixed in the mind as a purposeful configuration. Without a doubt they had presence. They looked innocent enough in daytime, but in the dark their latent power unfurled. They were the sentinels of the night.
It was sad when, a few days later, The Farmer came to take them away. It had been during their sojourn on my field that a photo camera had seemed a pressing need, but by the time I did something about it the bales were gone.