This is just a bit of nostalgia penned after driving some of the back roads of Maine and passing old farms, many no longer active. My thoughts took me to the days when they were still alive and times were both harder and simpler.
A hank of damp hair hangs limply on her forehead. With the back of a work reddened hand she brushes it from her face. From the galvanized tub before her, she withdraws a well worn shirt from the murky water and places it on the weathered washboard. With lye soap in hand, she scrubs the sweat stained collar, stopping only to assess her progress. Her back aches from the stooped position she maintains. It shows in her posture when, upon completion, her bowed body carries the basket of wet clothes into the yard and begins hanging them on the line.
She is alone, free to occupy her mind with random thoughts. Things to do, always so many things to do. Things she has done or would like to . She allows herself a little flight of whimsy, thinking back to the days of her youth. She was pretty then. At least, the boys told her she was and she never corrected them. She would use her impish smile to flirt and lead them on. She would watch them try to outdo each other, acting the fool to gain her attention. Like the time Bobby Edson brought her a bouquet of goldenrod although he was allergic to the weed. She allows herself a quiet chuckle as she remembers him standing there, eyes watering, nose running, and trying so hard to be a man.
But that was a long time ago. Many years since William, her sweet William, with slicked down hair, starched shirt, and Sunday suit, stuttered through a request for her hand. And how, on her wedding day, he had borrowed his daddy’s old Ford for their one night honeymoon at the Regal Hotel in town, only to have it break down a mile from the house, and William walking back to get some help. Such a tragedy then, yet so humorous now.
Where did those days go? When did life lose it’s luster and become so predictable. All the years, one day stacked against another. Two boys, grown now, out in the fields with their dad. Truth is, William would not be able to do it without them, but don’t try to tell him that. While his body may have weakened, as has hers, their real strength lies within their love for each other. They have not been strangers to their share of heartbreak, as with the loss of their only little girl. But they have also had their share of blessings too. Be thankful she muses. He won’t give you more then you can handle.
The wayward curl again escapes and cascades down her face. Absently, she brushes it back in place, and with a last glance toward the fields where tractor dust rises, she blows a kiss, and turns back toward the house.
Originally published September 2012