Promises We Make

Rural people are used to hay bales, round and square, and we all know the cool, damp, early winter days where fog hangs around for a while, most leaves crackle softly underfoot while a few leaves still hold to their branch.


I like those types of days, so when one came up I took a walk on the little road that more or less runs around the perimeter of the property.  I saw a familiar scene of round bales lined up along a fence to organize them for future use.  The field was holding on to some green, but tan had asserted itself.  On the other side of the fence down a slope, the ground is cut where water has drained for who knows how long.  Trees guard the rivulet's sculpture, so this area cannot be bushhogged (cut with a mower pulled behind a tractor).


I'd looked across the defoliated embankment up the rise to the bales many time before, so I turned to walk but not before making a photograph.  What was there that made me pause?  The bales, like masked faces, watched me turn slowly away.  Did I hear something?  I continued by the pond, down the path, through the gate that's never closed, back up and around to the house.

Time passes.

When the need for a new work arose, I browsed my image files.  Grasses, backlit trees, the creek, clouds, pathways, cows, more cows, field patterns, evening light - many choices.  So much to begin with. 

I wanted something authentic to me - my personal experience here at home.  A colorful evening scene or a curvy creek may be interesting to more people, but I have chosen the little spaces to look through.  So I browse images like one pressing their ear to door after door, listening, looking for the light from deep life to find a gap in consciousness through which to beam and guide.  


November.  I came across images from November and was right back on the damp ground that gave to each step.  The bales slowly come into view from around trees.  Faces.  A meeting.  The story in my mind pauses.  I see the arrangement again.  Haybales, trees, fallen leaves.  Quiet, foggy air.  Light.  Shadow.  Did I hear something?  

Hay bales.  Food, but not for now.  For later.  The rain will get colder as the light gets shorter.  Grass won't grow.  Snow.  Hay.  What is it and why do we bother?  

"I'll provide that which you do not know to ask for."  

On that field's edge I saw something that reminded me of the silent promises we make.  We experience, we judge, we resolve, we intend.  We promise.  A mother to her infant.  An employee to ownership.  A servant to the served.  An owner to her pet.  A debtor to himself.  The penitent to the future.  

Some are kept.

Some are cussed.

Some last a lifetime.

Some are lost, then remembered.

It's just a painting, a product of process, but everything before the end was a shallow-water wade into purpose.

It's just a painting, a product of process, but everything before the end was a shallow-water wade into purpose.