Rural scene worthy of Rockwell | Wally's World

Well, you know how some evenings are this time of year. The temperature drops a few degrees after 6 o’clock. The sky is clear without a cloud in sight and Mount Rainier stands out with unusually sharp clarity.

And if you’re a farmer, it’s time to get the hay in before the whims of nature change, a breeze picks up from the west and that thick mist rolls over the land, leaving the produce wet. God forbid, it could even rain tomorrow.

I’m not a farmer. However, I live on three acres and, given the price of hay trucked from Yakima, there are farmers in the Krain area willing to cut and bale my field. So, a couple of times each summer John Stolz shows up with his high-powered equipment and, after a few days of cutting and fluffing, leaves bales scattered all over the place. Given my screwed up back – a consequence of my woebegone, younger days as a roofer – I’m not much help with any of this. (I can lift about four bales before turning into a basket case.) But I’m pretty good at kicking back on my porch and overseeing the whole operation.

And what a delightful kind of wholesome, country operation it is.

Joe Poleski is a healthy, strong, middle-aged fella who can throw those bales hither and yon like they’re so many toy blocks. His two boys, ages 6 and 4, run aimlessly and happily about the field, from one bale to the next, jumping here and climbing there, and generally having a wonderful time. This all-American, Norman Rockwellian scene wouldn’t be complete without a dog – specifically, a yellow Lab named Max. Max exhausted himself chasing after the boys and tracking more odors than he could possibly classify, so he finally just crashed on the porch beside me.

There were other people as well, both men and women, and they kept pretty busy doing one damned thing or another. Yet, no matter how hard they worked, they still had time to chuckle, shout a playful insult at someone across the field and offer a ready smile. One of my neighbors, Fred Stolz – father to the Stolz mentioned above – wandered over to say hello to everyone. Or maybe he just wanted to make sure we were doing things correctly. Joe paused for a swig of water. (More than a swig actually;  more like half a gallon.) Rest assured, cold beer was available but, as any practiced drinker knows, beer doesn’t really quench your thirst.

As the evening wore on and the sun slipped lower, the brightness mellowed and faded into a rich amber hue. The mountain was bathed in pink. Things didn’t seem as loud, neither the machinery nor the passing traffic on 400th. People spoke more softly.

Then the amber faded into a pleasant steel-blue sky and mist settled over the distant foothills. As the last bale was thrown on the trailer, night softly, as poet Carl Sandburg once said, came “on little cat feet” – or something like that. And we gathered on the porch, cracked a few brews and celebrated our warm camaraderie and a job well done.

My New York friends should see me now.

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