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.
A few days ago, as I checked most of my self-assigned coronavirus projects off my list I took advantage of a free offer to watch a documentary for which I’d neglected making time to see in the theaters last year. As much as I knew I needed to see it and wanted to see it, I also thought it would be a difficult 95 minutes of viewing. I can’t remember any other film that I ever had the same hesitation. Watching it at home seemed a better plan since I could pause the show whenever I wanted.
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.