Out of nowhere and unrelated to anything else, I just had a vivid memory.
It was Summer '80 or '81, those were the two Summers I worked on Foster's farm. There was a blueberry field complete with air guns that blasted every ten minutes from sun up til sundown. People drove from everywhere to pick their own by the pound. There were 20 dairy cows, clumsy, gentle and not caring about much. I loved their big sweet eyes and soulful moos. They walked up the same track every day to the grazing field that smelled of timothy and deerstongue. After the hottest part of the day they'd meander back down the trail for the barn- sometimes without our going after them- to be milked and brushed, fed, watered and washed down as necessary. It was a small farm and ran efficiently. 60 year-old Foster, a high school kid, 2 little boys, and I made sure everything was done by 7 p. Long days, but healthy and peaceful.
My favorite part of the whole operation was the haying. Foster owned huge fields along both sides of the highway and after filling his silo and barn he sold bales to other people. He'd drive his old wooden-bed hay truck with the aluminum floor (I sailed right off that when unloading bales, twice) and I'd sit shotgun. With a SLOW sign flashing on the back we trundled up to the hayfields and loaded the tremendous crib with bales. I was so fit in those years that I did chin ups in the barn to stretch.
But the cab of that c.1940s truck is the flash scene that brought all this back. The only seat was the old bench style, no seatbelts. The whole interior was utilitarian blue and filthy. There were spaces for the driver and a farmhand and every other available inch was a pile of boxes with parts for things and various pieces of paper. The only thing that was clean was Foster's omnipresent cup of coffee. It sat in a tin box he'd jammed into a hole in the dashboard and it miraculously never sloshed over as we bounced along.
It was that that I just remembered so clearly, all that in an instant.
If you've never been in a beaten up hay truck on a hot Summer day with a fresh cut load, when a breeze floods the cab with the heady scent of a dozen different grasses filling your senses, you've missed something.
Thanks, Foster. You were one of the best bosses ever.