After toast break, your work will change, and you will have the opportunity to change into shorts. At this time of year in northern New Mexico, you will be comfortable enough in jeans and a sweatshirt, weeding spinach from eight until ten, but by ten and even before, you will throw your sweatshirt onto the ground and be dying to wear shorts and eat toast. After the toast break, if you are lucky, and luck seems to run abundantly on this farm, you will leave your partially weeded spinach row and be called to harvest acorn squash and pumpkins. If you have sensitive skin, put your gloves on. If you're a squash terrorist like me, forego the gloves and take your chances. Perhaps it's only because I am a rookie farmer, but there is some satisfaction to be had from looking upon a forearm irritated from harvesting pumpkins and winter squash. The vines can be quite aggressively spiky.
When you have finished harvesting all the ripe squashes and pumpkins, it will be time for the noon sandwich break: sandwich, cookie, apple finisher. You'll have already done a good amount of work, and you'll have earned the post-lunch, 15 minute lay-off. This is when I usually retire to the terrace to check my email and collect my camera. The morning's coffee will have cooled, and the air will have warmed. It can be very tempting to snooze, but there is too much work to be done. On a farm like this, there is always work to be done. One o'clock rolls around and it's back into the fields. The afternoon goes by quickly and then it's four o'clock and dinner must be made. I don't know what happens if dinner is not available by five-thirty. Actually, I do. We were in Santa Fe all day yesterday, running errands, and we were due at a book launch at six, to be followed by a 7:30 dinner, but around four in the afternoon, exhausted and drinking coffee in a Santa Fe strip mall Starbucks, we all decided, individually, to phone our regrets. We regret that we cannot attend the dinner party. We are farmers and we must return to Dixon ASAP to eat left-over spaghetti. If we don't eat dinner at 5:30, our crops will die. But after dinner is such a joy. That is when we stroll down the lane to view the Embudo and the clouds.
Rose Mary always sees something in the clouds, and she is never silent about it. Tonight it was a shark and an upside down crocodile. "The first thing I had to get used to after I married Rose Mary," Stan said, "was seeing things in the clouds." "Oh, there's a flat tire in a cloud," Stan said, "I came from a family that never saw anything in a cloud." Rose Mary: "I always thought Americans are so boring; I always thought Americans were so boring." I kept my ears open and my mouth shut. It is so nice to stroll down the lane with Stan and Rose Mary after dinner. It is nice to stroll anywhere with them, but strolling down the lane with them after a long day of work is a ritual pleasure, a pleasure that doesn't become boring with repetition, but rather becomes more calming and ensuring each time. This is when our banter is best, when we are all relaxed at the end of the day. We stop at the river, turn around, and head back to the farm. One some nights we continue past the gate and down to the highway. Tonight was not one of those nights. Stan and Rose Mary turned in at the gate and I did the second half of the walk alone, wanting to relish the lane by myself (though I would have relished it if they'd been there too).
The second half of the walk is less bucolic, more busted out cars. The neighbor at the far end of the road has a very impressive collection (this is only the tip of the iceberg) of beat up and dysfunctional old cars. He also has a dog who is not above attacking you for getting too close to the merchandise. Tonight, however, the dog was nowhere to be found. It was only me, my camera, my thoughts, and my last walk down to the highway-end of the lane. I kept my camera close to my eye to stave off busting a tear. It's not like I've been here forever and forever, and it's not like I cannot return again, but this trip and my time on this farm have been so sweet and so rewarding, I did get a little teary-eyed when I stopped here to photograph these busted out pick-up trucks at the end of Stan and Rose Mary's lane. Who knows when I will be gifted enough to get back here. It could be a long time, it could be a short one, but time has nothing do to with farewell. Farewell is a gush of joy, a timeless gush that renders your rational mind incapable and makes you a subject of emotion. Farewell is the small opening through which passes great torrents of feeling. Those torrents can build for two weeks, two years, two hundred millions years. It's all very relative. It's not something that a clock or a calendar can understand. But you feel it in your heart. And if you're lucky, like me, you can sit down and remember it, and write about it, and continue remembering it until your love is renewed again, until something comes along and makes your life as grand as it is at the moment of farewell. So farewell. So thank you Stan and Rose Mary, and thank you everyone else who has made this X-Country Road and Farm Adventure Gift possible.