Hay bales are my lily pads. I watch the light on them when I run: the angle, the strength, the warmth. Depending on the time of day, the season of year, the color of the sky, the life on the ground, the hay bales look different every day.
Growing up, I made the drive from Savannah to Athens a thousand times with my family. I always loved to see the hay bales in the fields, dotting the hills as if dropped with parachutes from the sky. Plopped wherever the bale happened to have enough hay and the baler strapped it up and abandoned it. There was no order. No pattern to the bales on the hills, but the bales themselves are so tidy. This appealed to me then and it appeals to me now, the tidiness of a bale of hay. Something that swayed in the wind and covered the earth and that I’d never be able to order myself if I were to reap and bundle it – not without wrestling and swearing and scratching blood on my arms – all of this wildness was now bound in a tight, neat package that looked like a tater tot.
It wasn’t until I was an adult and started taking my runs through the fields around here that I started looking at hay bales up close. The swirl of the straw around the core of the bale, the streaks of stalks like highlights in blonde hair. When the sky is blue, and the land is stubbled, and the hay bale lazes in the right slant of light, it shines like gold.
Do they leave the bales as is and just let cows munch on them? No, that can’t be right – they have that green plastic wrap around them. That’s a new thing. They used to be bound with two or three narrow white bands of plastic or twine. Now they are bound by webbing. Someone must collect the bales at some point. No one has collected mine yet, though.
I wanted to watch the hay at sunrise today, but I was too early. The sun did not rise over the mountains and shine on the bales before I needed to get home to pack lunches. I tried. I ran back and forth, watching the morning sun light the hilltops to the west. But the bales were in valleys and I could not wait any longer. All my bales are golden. I want to see them glow pink.
For the month of April, I will be publishing a 10-minute free write each day, initiated by a prompt from my prompt box. Minimal editing. No story. Just thoughts spilling onto the page. Trying to get back into the writing habit.