Haying Season 

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

Page 4 of 10

Ella had already thrown two bales onto the truck. She grasped the cords of baling twine and lurched backwards, hefting the bale onto her skinny thighs. She walked stiff-legged towards the truck, shoving the bale forward step-by-step with her legs. At the truck she twisted, grappled with the bale until she tipped it end-up on the ground. She re-positioned her hands and rested for a few seconds, like a weightlifter, before pitching it onto the tailgate. She plumped her fists into the end of the bale and shoved it a few feet across the truck bed.

"Make sure you lift with your legs. Keep your back straight," I said.

"I’m not some old lady."

"You can still wreck your back." I hauled another bale onto the tailgate. Ella was right behind me with her own, waiting for me to get out of the way.

"Do you want to drive?" I asked.

Ella’s face brightened. She climbed in behind the steering wheel.

"You should use a cushion so you can see."

"Mum, the only thing I can possibly hit are hay bales." Ella stepped on the brake pedal and shifted the truck into Drive.

"Don’t stop on any of the green spots," I said. "If you get into a soft patch, just keep going. Whatever you do, don’t pin it."

"Dad already taught me how to drive the truck."

"Don’t drive like him. He’s a lead foot."

I got out of the cab and pointed at the row of hazelnut trees along the fence line, where the ground was firmer. The truck pitched forward and she swore. But once she got going she was fine, kept a steady speed, made a gentle turn and a smooth stop right where I pointed. I already had a bale in my grasp and I hoisted it on top. Ella carefully shifted the truck into Park. She left the engine running, then hopped down and tackled another bale.

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