Soon a tractor will rumble up the road, its motorized growl growing louder, as its sidebar mower makes its first and only pass, lancing through roadside grasses. This annual act creates a “before” and “after.” Prior to the mower’s arrival, summer stretches endlessly. The timothy, switch, and orchard grasses have been rising since they first poked through the soil in April. Some mingle with the lowest branches of the maples and apples. Not for long. One pass of that tractor—the tin reaper of summer—and all that growth will cascade back to earth. Sure, its stubble will resume a skyward journey, but it won’t achieve this same kind of height. Since June’s summer solstice, each day’s been snipped of a minute. Night will have lopped off nearly half an hour of light by the time the tractor sidles up in mid-July. Which leads me to anticipate this smooth operator who wields the roadside mower: Is he the tardy barber of spring or the first shearer of autumn? Perhaps it’s the latter, for in the wake of the blades, beneath the flat top of collapsed grass, the crickets’ murmur grows louder, as if they too are whetting their scythes.
About this Podcast
Welcome to the monthly Farmer’s Calendar podcast. These essays come from The Old Farmer’s Almanac annual publication. They are recorded by Julia Shipley, the author and poet. She draws from her life raising animals and vegetables on a small farm in Northern Vermont.