a love story
Red Stag is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.
It feels later in the year than it is. A cold front has bedded down with Washington County, making the nights dip into the 40s and days hardly crawling in the high 70s. It's July but feels like September. It's getting me prematurely excited for fall. When I got back to the farm early this afternoon I grabbed my crook and ran up into the pasture. I used the staff to rattle a few apples out of the trees and hollered to the flock to come join me in the next field. They came gamboling uphill like overweight tourists and we all went through the gate together. Maude and Joseph ran to the far clover but Sal and I stood under the apple tree like old hands. I scratched his ear and watched his eyes close. His body leaned against mine. His neck arched his massive head up to meet my palm. I don't know what sheep think about, but I think Sal likes attention and is a master at savoring it. I crooked a few more green apples for him and he gobbled them up. Me standing, him chewing, the whole farm below us as perfect as waves.
Eventually he joined the others and I stood there, crook in hand. Wind came and whispered lies that it was late September. I believed them and closed my eyes, just like Sal. I was standing there in the same clothes I wore to run in, a tee shirt and shorts, but I imagined myself in a favorite pair of old jeans and a new flannel shirt: October clothing. (You know exactly what I mean: when the fabric is still plush and feels like hot chocolate if hot chocolate had a thread count.) Crows called out in the bottom field, distant but loud. I love that sound. I'd be lost without it. With my eyes still closed, with the sheep a few feet below me, I pictured myself in that same spot in three months. I imagined cold wind racing up my plaid sleeve. I tried to visualize what my arm would look like, what my body would feel like, after two months of running and farming. I felt the air fill the space between a tawny arm and new cotton and fell in love with the quarter-inch of invisible beauty that could live there. The hair on my skin pricked.
I sighed. Some things can't be helped.