Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Leading the Team

For months now, I have been telling my neighbor Elam that I wanted to help him bale hay, thinking the experience of back-breaking, sweaty work would do my soul some good. While he is always more than happy to laugh at me, he obviously gave the request some serious thought.  As I watched his youngest brother Levi drive a team of 4 draft horses past the house with the baler and two wagons trailing behind (one of which was carrying his young son), Elam knocked on the kitchen door.

We're baling straw tonight, he says. Just a few times around the field, that's all. Want to help? This is your chance to drive the horses, feel the power of the team as they make their way around the field. Kevin can take pictures, and you can show all your friends at work! 

DRIVE THE HORSES? I've never even been on a horse. You would really let me to that? Oh, no. Not tonight, I hear myself say. We have guests. I've got dishes to do. I need a few days notice to prepare for this. 

After a few minutes of cajoling, he leaves to continue his work without me, not wanting to force me into it. Kevin looks at me. He's disappointed too. I tell him the truth: I'm too scared. But he assures me it will all be fine. It will be fun! What an opportunity! This is your chance, Michele! Go for it! 

So I do. Donning my blue overalls (I mean, what DID I buy those for anyway?) and a long sleeve shirt, I trek out to the back field just as he's getting ready to start. After about two seconds of instructions and a snappy "giddup" we're off, with little Elam Junior on my lap, and Kevin documenting every second of it. A friend of ours remarked that Elam must really trust me. I've been thinking about that trust and his self-reliance, confidence, and spirit of community. How can any society survive without those things?

The ride was bumpy, but what a rush! I did it.  Elam helped with the turns. Little Elam Junior sat quitely. Levi stacked the bales. Kevin ran along by my side and took pictures. I was leading the team and no one got hurt.