August in the Midwest can be a relatively gentle time on the farm despite the ripening of much of the produce. Kitchens are busy with canning tomatoes as quick as they drop from the vine and between the sounds of back porch corn shucking and the screen door slamming, batches of apple butter and fruit preserves are being put up to carry the family through until next season. Mason jars still warm from the pressure cooker and rich with the colors and the labors of the season are taken down the road and exchanged with neighbors and relatives amid bushels of tomatoes and apples and that oft repeated “just won’t be able to get to all this” during gravel driveway conversations of catching up that last just long enough to stay on top of the latest and are always cut short because, “you know how it is. Got to get back to it.”
“The shortest answer is doing the thing.” – Ernest Hemingway
In the year 2021 I resolve to…nope, I don’t. I don’t see any point in doing this year any differently than the last. You see, I didn’t have one of those horrible, crappy, miserable years that so many have been telling us they had. Oh, sure, the pandemic part of it sucked, it pissed me off when people didn’t wear their masks, and I did lose a few people I knew – which sucked even more; but for the most part all of that seemed to be not much more than background noise to everything else that took place over the last 10 months of the year.
I spent the entire long Labor Day weekend in my favorite sweat pants and a cotton t-shirt with cut-off sleeves and socks. It really doesn’t matter that my shirt sleeves were gone but their absence did create a bit of balance with the long pants I wore despite the weather being plenty warm enough to wear shorts. Since most of my interaction with nature in recent days has been through glass windows and brick walls I opted for comfort over sensible in my wardrobe choices.
Recent rain is hampering my weekend plans to do yard projects. The ground is too muddy to run the lawn mower let alone reinforce a retaining wall as I’d planned. But the sun has started the drying process and with the help of the warm breeze, it shouldn’t take too long so there’s no point in complaining.
On April 7 we lost John Prine to the COVID-19 virus. I don’t usually pay much attention to celebrities when they die, and truth be told, he never really felt like a celebrity in the sense that most others do. He was a brilliant writer. His voice fit him. He had the best voice for the words he penned. But first and foremost, to me he was the consummate poet. In his lyrics he spoke volumes. There won’t be another John Prine.