Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Treasures in the Hay

    We weren't supposed to play in the loft anymore because some kid fell in my Granny's barn and broke his arm. It was the best one for swinging around like Tarzan from the ropes; the acoustics were fantastic when we did the famous yell.
     I still went up there to find kittens in our barn. I heard them from my backyard, meowing in that nonstop newborn way. They were almost always in the loft.
     The Mama cats found new hiding places with every batch. I was good at finding them but didn't do anything but watch at first.
     It's a mistake to touch a nest or you might end up raising the babies yourself. Eggs won't hatch by themselves, so it's your fault if the Mamas leave and don't come back.
     The Mama cats got tired of coming up with new places and eventually started having them closer, sometimes bringing them right to the back door, like fuzzy presents for me to find when I got home after school.

      Hay smells so much better when it's fresh out of the ground...not at all like the dusty smell you can see in the cracks that shine through into the loft...little pieces in the air. Spiders hitchhike rides in your hair for fun...

      I was the only girl allowed to ride along when we got up hay.  I sat in the back and watched because I wasn't strong enough to pick up the bales. My fingers were too squishy to grab underneath the twine and pull.
      Marvin brought the truck full of boys early, before I even finished breakfast. Most of them were older than me, closer to my brother's age.
     The boys took off their shirts sometimes but put them back on again when the hay made their skin itchy. My brother and cousins were up there, too, all of them strong enough to jump off and toss bales up.
     Bits of fresh hay/grass were stuck to the sweat that was all over their bodies. They didn't seem to notice unless it was time for a water break.
     Daddy and Marvin and the other grown-ups walked around and smoked while the boys cooled off.
     It was that time of year when spring and summer meet and things start to get really hot.
     My cheeks and nose would be pink, maybe even a little bit red, by the end of the day. My brother might even need Noxema on his shoulders, if he forgot to put his shirt back on.
     As I looked out the kitchen window at the boys who were running around my yard, playing with my cousins, I wondered,
     "What kind of cream did their Mamas use...on brown skin?"