The Red Trailer

Thu, 10/29/2020 - 5:45pm

There is a horse trailer in the front field. It arrived nearly a week ago, all shiny and bright red. The three Icelandics who live down here have all been introduced to it, with appropriate fanfare, and it has moved a bit, but not much and never on its own.

It still catches my eye when I walked past a window and it is in my peripheral vision, sitting out there just beyond the ruins of a side-loading hay rake and a disc harrow, rusted, broken metal, that I remember functioning. One gathered fallen hay and left windrows in its wake, the same that lie across some summer pastures, imperfect snakes, waiting to be compressed by a baler. The other had even a more finite working life, slicing through earth plowed in the spring, chopping the clods of dirt and old roots, making it ready to be planted.

I remember climbing on them when I was little, playing outside in the waning light of late fall and early winter, not so big a window when we got home from school at 4:30 at the earliest and the sun set as it does now, less than an hour later. Perhaps it is why I have no memory of being cold, only of imagining those pieces of summer to be anything but what they were, usually some variation on a covered wagon or stagecoach, the things of black and white Saturday morning television.

Then they fell into dis-use. Decades later I read an observation piece in a magazine or newspaper about old farmland scattered with unused rusted equipment, a revelation that it wasn’t just here, or next door where I watched a big old hay wagon slowly sink into the corner of a field.

For years, these in my field were cut around, I remember going down with lopers and freeing the harrow, when it was still almost whole then I gave up and they went from relics to mounds of green, covered with white roses for ten minutes in June, and bursting berries in the fall. Now, they are just even diminishing piles of twisted metal, edging closer and closer to a day when I will finally let them go.

Autumn ignores them, but she is still barking at the trailer. Or, as she is doing this damp afternoon, lying on the damp grass, keeping a steady eye on it.

Mansion Road is less busy than in summer but there is still activity, and it is more spaced, and with the field wide open she is better able to watch for every traffic event, be it a vehicle, a piece of heavy equipment, a walker, so Autumn is busy, acting as guardian and sentry.

Walking down my road yesterday I was reminded the geese are still around, and despite having these wide open fields, still filled with short green grass, a few chose to march down what I grandly call my driveway, a nicely even way which does have a grassy swatch down most of its center. Even, that is, under my thick soled shoes, a layer of stone one would imagine sharply felt by webbed feet. But, here they have traveled, it is clear by the deposits left, and more than from a mere crossing.

But it was not the geese, nor the deer, nor any traffic on the road, not even the shiny red trailer, that caught Autumn’s attention. She ran off up the hill, looking toward the neighbor’s barn and I saw the lattice work of a crane, presumably on a barge out on the water beyond the hill. It would seem impossible but I have seen her bark at the boat going by, even a plane overhead.

It seemed, at first, she had set the dogs who live just to the west to barking, then I realized every “woof” matched Autumn’s, just delayed. But it was not coming from the direction she was facing, the sound was not bouncing off my neighbor’s barn and coming back to me, but somehow by-passing me and ricocheting off another neighbor’s house?

It was a still day. As accustomed as I am to re-directed sound in my little valley, remembering when the late Norris Pike was hard against deadline on the house up by the Mansion, when on even the slightest southwest wind I would hear the hammers ringing from Clay Head, to the north of me, more than a quarter of a mile from their source, this surprised me.

If it’s not a shiny red trailer to confuse Autumn, it’s a doubled-back “woof” to stop me, and for a few minutes outside it’s just a beautiful fall day full of wonder.