Well, it's officially the beginning of the end. I've started packing, and I wish I'd written down what I packed in each bag and box. It's like trying to do a puzzle without looking at the box top. It's impossible not to think back on the summer as I fold my Carhartts and wonder where I'm going to pack the armload of books I have. Big things stand out, but it's the little things that round out any experience and make it real. Like my friend Chris says, it's the little things; there's nothing bigger. It is the little things that I hope I'll remember:
The sound of the milk truck braking to turn into the farm driveway.
The train whistle, and hearing it get closer and closer and then farther and farther.
Coming home smelling like hay after merging all day, but mostly from pulling armloads of it out of the merger when it clogged.
Seeing the Milky Way on a clear night.
The sweet smell of the corn when it tassled, hanging over the whole farm.
All the different ways manure can smell, from just the way a barn should smell, to eye-watering.
Listening to country music lyrics that describe our days: "...cruisin back and forth to the Tastee-Freez..." "...he gets up before the dawn..." "...take the tractor another round..." "...it ain't always pretty, but it's real..."
The chicory that is my exact favorite shade of blue growing the whole length of the cornfield.
Dressing in the dark and eating breakfast by the light in the microwave.
Getting up with and going to bed with the sun.
The way getting mail could make an already good day 100 times better.
Picking sweet corn and eating it less than an hour later.
Eating tomato-basil salad with tomatoes and basil that I grew.
Based on these photos Mom emailed me, it seems I was always destined to end up spending at least one summer with dairy cows...
A paper mache cow with a rubber glove for an udder that we made at home. I was 6.
A visit to the University of Illinois ag research farm one summer. I was 7.