Three sisters, our mom, and our baby brother waited in the rickety red
wagon, our job to stack the hay as it was baled. Dad positioned the tractor
over a row of alfalfa and started the baler, filling the field with a deafening
roar. The baler devoured the hay,
sending it into a rectangular chute
where it was compacted and tied into a fifty-pound bale before being shot into
It took some time for Dad to perfect his technique. The bales were too loose and fell apart. They became tight and heavy as Dad
overcorrected his mistake. And
sometimes, if rain threatened, the hay came too fast to stack.
The work left our limbs crisscrossed with scratches. Dirt and hay found its way beneath clothes, into
our hair and teeth and shoes.
It didn’t take long to develop a distaste for haying. Dad turned the corner of the field and I
thought for sure the wagon would burst apart from the strain of containing the
indignation of his teenage daughters.
Sometimes I hoped it would, relieving us of our duties, at least for the
day. But somehow, that old wagon hung on
for another turn, another day, another season, until we were making hay good
enough to sell to our neighbors.
family lives in a development of dual-income families. We contract out pieces of our lives—lawn service,
laundry, cleaning—so that we can earn a living.
Nameless laborers sweep in quiet as a whisper and finish their work
before we return, a sign tucked into the grass the only evidence of their
lot of work,” my neighbors tell me, when I talk about the farm.
It was hard work and sometimes
it felt as if it would never end. I
remember the bales of hay neatly stacked.
The glistening jars of jelly, beans and corn. The packages of beef and pork in the freezer.
And, in remembering, I recall what it means to truly earn a living.
This post was written in response to Trifecta's Writing Challenge. This weekend what we are asking from you is a little bit different (again).
Many of you regularly submit fictional responses to our prompts. This weekend
we are asking for a bit of your memoirs. We want a real account of a period in
your life that can be clearly identified by (wait for it) the number three.
Maybe it's the three decades you spent flipping burgers. Maybe it's the three
seconds you hesitated justifiably before saying "I do." We'd like for your
story to be true-ish, and we'd like for it to be an artistic creation, not just
a play-by-play account. Think less "blog post" and more "creative
Obviously, these criteria are about as subjective as they come,
but we are convinced that you guys will deliver the fantastic and that we'll
know it when we see it. You have from 0-333 words to get it done. Have fun.
And good luck!
Labels: Creative non-fiction, Growing up, Trifecta Writing Challenge