There are these mundane moments in life that pass so quickly you almost don’t notice them. But if you grab one of those moments as it flits by, you hold life itself in your hand.
I wish a photographer had been there. This is one of those images that makes a great photo for a periodical piece on the future of farming. (The future of America, perhaps?) No photojournalist was there, of course, but I’ll try to recreate the scene for you.
The egg washing machine had broken down, 89 dozen into the 300 dozen eggs that I still had to wash today. The motor was working intermittently and was causing me all kinds of frustration. My help decided 11:30 was a good time for lunch and said their goodbyes. I was cold, wet, and hungry. Very hungry.
I quickly exhausted my electrical repair abilities and traipsed up to the house to ask Fritz to lend his expertise. He immediately came out and we broke down the entire machine, piece by piece. “I wish Keith were here”, he said at one point. “Someone really needs to know how to fix this egg washer.” “Teach me”, I retorted, more than a little miffed. “I’m the one who uses this machine and Keith has a full-time job.” Fritz seemed taken aback. “Okay,” he answered, more cautiously. We proceeded.
A few hours later, I had to run to the hardware store for a part. When I returned, I found Fritz in his kitchen, making himself a sandwich from leftover pot roast. I had already scarfed a bowl of tomato soup on my errand, so I was prepared to go back to work.
“Come in and get warm for a minute,” he said. I didn’t question it. Tired and cold, I sat down at the table and pulled out my iPhone while he settled himself in his chair and prepared to finish the Gazette Times crossword puzzle.
There we sat at the same table: a 27 year old female beginning farmer and an 80 year old male retired farmer. We hardly spoke. I plugged letters into Words with Friends on my iPhone. He ate.
“What is a musical term for slow?”
“L-e-n-t-o. That fits”
We both worked in silence for a while.
“Playing a crossword?”
“No. Scrabble. With some random person on the other side of the world”
The machine was eventually fixed. I finished the day even more wet, cold and hungry. A lot of time had been wasted by the break-down. I went home annoyed and frustrated by it all.
But sitting here at midnight, I think back to that moment in the warm kitchen and smile at the juxtaposition of new and old.
Today was really about that, I think. And I’m glad.