He doesn’t bale with me anymore
I climbed up into the cab of my tractor with my water bottles and coffee cup in hand. I sat in the seat and turned to set my stash in the cubby behind me. As I turned back around a gray piece of plastic caught my eye. I looked closer and from underneath the old twine, broken baler tines and random drag pieces I discovered a toy horse; a gray Percheron that I remembered from my own horse collections just a few years ago. This wasn’t there from my days as a wee one though. This belonged to a time when a small cowboy in a white snap shirt, scuffed cowboy boots and a well loved cowboy hat rode in that cubby behind me. There were other treasures that accumulated there in the two weeks that he would ride with me while I baled hay. Snack wrappers, extra toys and a pillow used to take up that space. This wee boy would sit in the cubby and play, eat his snacks and tell me stories until the constant rocking rhythm of the tractor would lull him to sleep.
Too fast, it seems, that space became too small for the wee boy. His 3, 4, and 5 year old self fit there fine, but I soon lost his company to the larger open spaces of the hay meadow. He would set up the lands of his imagination out there by the bales and waiting pickup and play while the dogs kept him company. I would watch his stories unfold from the cab as I baled row after row of hay.
In even less time than it took for him to outgrow that cubby space, he became big enough to fill a tractor seat himself. I watch as he climbs into the cab of his tractor, situates his waters and snacks and shifts into gear to bale row after row of hay. He still sports the white snapped shirt, his boots are still scuffed with wear and the cowboy hat is still well loved, but he has his own baling duties now. My heart aches a little for those days when the wee one would ride in the cubby behind me but I smile too, as I look at the young man he is becoming. He doesn’t bale with me anymore, but I am proud to watch him bale alongside me...