Haying Season 

The system to the north was taunting me, offering me the better part of a day to fret over its arrival.

Thoreau went to the woods to live deliberately. And Whistler, it seems, is the place to come if you want to write deliberately. The fifth Whistler Writers Festival, Sept. 14-17, is a hyper-literate jam-packed long-weekend for readers, writers, closeted scribblers and anyone looking for a fresh perspective. From manuscript workshops and daily seminars to evening readings with Canada’s best authors, the festival has something for everyone.

Here, in Pique’s special Word Made Flesh, four local writers come out of their closets. The series is a prelude to Writers in the Flesh, three incredible readings at Millennium Place, featuring the Chair of the Council of Canadians, Maude Barlow ( Too Close For Comfort: Canada’s Future Within Fortress North America; Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop Corporate Theft of the World’s Wate r) on Thursday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m.; Joseph Boyden ( Three Day Road) on Friday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m.; and Eden Robinson (Blood Sports) Saturday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are just $10. Or buy the trifecta for $25. Book tickets to the events at www.theviciouscircle.ca < or contact Stella Harvey at 604 932 4518 or stella25@telus.net

Haying Season

By Rebecca Wood Barrett

I haven’t slept in on a Saturday since the summer of last year, not since Roger left us. I rolled out of bed, threw a jacket over my dressing gown and slid into a pair of muckers. It was only five minutes past seven and already Monty was making a racket for his grain, banging his knees against his stall door while Poncho punctuated the dull thudding with one of his nervy, high-pitched squeals. Outside the backdoor a murder of crows had assembled and were shrieking at me like a brood of hungry children. I walked through the middle of the flock and they hopped sideways on their thin claws.

To the northwest, tiny clouds bubbled over the mountains, like milk on the boil. Horsetail clouds lashed the sky. We needed one more day for the hay bales to dry completely. The hot, sunny weather had lasted two weeks and now we’d lose the entire crop to an afternoon’s rainfall. I felt as though the system to the north was taunting me, offering me the better part of a day to fret over its arrival. In the dirt paddock behind the barn orange-bellied swallows swooped and dipped, swiping winged insects from the humid air.

I fed the horses in a rush, dumped a scoopful of grain into their buckets and tossed a flake of hay on the ground for each of them.

Last year it had taken Roger and his two work colleagues a full day and a flat of Kokanee to haul three hundred hay bales out of the field and into the barn. Now he lived in the city, in an executive apartment with a harbour view. If I threw myself at the job perhaps there was enough time – maybe Ella could drive, we’d take no breaks. On my way back to the house a light breeze delivered the scent of damp and warming earth from the fields.

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