Someday soon, I know, I will be back in the rhythm of writing. For now, I will share what my friend, Helen Delahunty, sent in a recent email (with Helen's permission).
Helen lives in Northern Ireland, where she grew up on a farm:
When my brothers plough a field to reseed it in new grass, they have a
system, maybe even a belief. I don't see or hear of many other farmers doing
this around here.
After the first ploughing while the ridges of plough are steep and difficult to walk over (land waves?) we walk the field looking for the very big stones (as rocks are called here). These are usually one or two feet x one or two feet. I can barely lift them. We stagger them into the front loader which Ian or Dylan will be driving - usually Annabel and I are the base labor core.
I am amazed each time that a field that has been ploughed/cultivated for over ten thousand years - yes you read that right; Ian found Irish elk bones in one field twenty years ago that the Armagh Museum dated to 8,000BC - still yields these enormous
After this stumbled over gathering, Ian or Roy harrows the field - now the soil is broken down, finer. Serious stone gathering time; the stones gathered are
smaller, more numerous, one foot and less rocks.
Finally the field is landlined - a large flat rake type machine is used. Judgement as to what size of rocks are to be lifted now - how small is too small? - is needed! Don't get neurotic - leave the lesser.
I love doing all this - it is walking dry fields - about 8 -10 acres in size, unskilled outdoor
labor with a fair amount of camaraderie, with just enough elements to make it mind absorbing but not mind taxing. And I say a lot of Thomas Hardy's great small poem:
"Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent way
With an old horse
that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk....
Though this will go
onward the same
Though dynasties pass"
Almost as good an incantation as the Lord's prayer - which I have been incanting and muttering and am puzzled. Why do we pray "and lead us not into temptation"? Why would a loving God lead us into temptation? Surely this is the work of Satan? What are your thoughts?
I find this system intriguing, and particularly the idea that it may even be considered a belief--that it is methodical and even meditative, and accomplished in three distinct stages. Knowing what to pick up, what to leave. . .and, oh, the poem!
Which also is meditative, in much the same way that the Lord's prayer is.
I responded to Helen's questions in an email, but thought I would leave them here for others to ponder.