Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sample Saturday - The Zion Trail - 3/21/2015

Welcome to Sample Saturday. We return to Elijah "Lije" Marshall, who is again working in the fields. Hey! He's a farm boy!

The day was hot, and I wasn't in any particular hurry to raise dust from the plowshare into my eyes and nose, so I took my time following Tom lazily down the rows. Even so, the handles of the plow sent enough shock into the muscles of my arms that I had no fear of falling asleep at my task.

Halting Tom at the end of a row, I wiped the sweat from my eyes with my sleeve, then squinted upward at the sun heading toward the top of the sky. Almost lunch time. Ma had packed me a lunch pail, since I would be out here on the back forty. I wondered if she'd made ham sandwiches. Perhaps my meal was cold chicken, instead. Whatever it was, I knew I'd savor the food, for my mother's cooking never failed to please.

I thought of her dill pickles, and hoped she'd included one. My mouth watered. I could almost taste the sharp flavor and succulent meat of one of my favorite treats. Only a few rows more to do, then I'd investigate the contents of my pail, which I had tucked under a tree at the margin of the field.

When I clucked old Tom into motion and made the turn into the next row, I noticed clouds gathering atop the low hills on the horizon. The prospect of rain on the dry fields was certainly welcome, but if Tom and I hadn't finished with the field before a storm swept over the land, we'd be plowing mud.

As a consequence, I pushed the horse faster than before. The clouds were rapidly climbing into the brilliant blue of the sky, and I had twelve more rows to finish.

We almost beat the weather, but the patter of drops on the stiff leaves came as a prelude to the rush of warm rain that hit Tom and I with three rows lacking completion.

That put my lunch on the back burner. I drove Tom hard to finish the field, although his coat glistened with water, and I had no doubt my hair did, as well. He didn't seem to mind the downpour when I wrestled the plow out of the mud and unhitched him to graze as he would.

My clothes clung to my skin, weighing far more than they would when dry. I ran in water-filled shoes toward the tree where I had deposited my meal. As I approached, I scanned the sky for lightning. Seeing none, I found a place under the tree and took what shelter I could on the grass and leaves.

After I dumped the water out my shoes, peeled off my shirt and wrung it out, and slicked my hands down my trousers to remove as much moisture as possible, I opened my lunch pail.

The item on top was a large square of buttered cornbread. I didn't take the time to remove the food and spread it out on the damp grass for inspection, but ate my way to the bottom of the pail, through the cornbread, the anticipated pickle, three slabs of naked ham, and a slightly warm potato. By the time I felt my hunger abate, the rainfall had begun to slacken. Even so, I couldn't do any more work in this muddy field, so I decided to take the horse back to the barn.

I put on my shirt and shoes, capped up my lunch pail, and made a coil of the lines hanging from the harness. Then I tugged Tom away from his feast and headed home.


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