Sheep ranchers south of here have had their second cuttings. After late spring’s floodwater, a weak second crop of hay in August is a blessing. But even still: the August sheep are grazing on late October grass. A second cutting of hay won’t be enough to see the sheep through the winter. How many sheep will they have to sell?
A beekeeper across the way keeps his bees on the cowboy’s land. In return, the cowboy gets free honey. And sometimes the honey gets him through the winter when his cattle can’t.
Our trail cuts across the grain of the mountain slope, my ankles feel the strain. The sweep of wild grass scratches across bare skin. Up ahead a fenced enclosure – bee hives painted white. I don’t know if I am fencing the bees in, he laughs, or trying to keep bears out.
Fence lines along the highway disappear at some point between where I live and where I was a child. As we drive back home, prairie grass gives away to wheat. Or maybe this: wheat gives in to grass. Even still: the wide-openness stays the same. Livestock requires fencing, the rancher says, crops require prayer. And then we drive past a fenced-in field of hay.
What is it we know for sure? The reverse of anything isn’t always true. Open range law here dictates if you do not want your neighbor’s cattle, then build a fence to keep them out.
In this way, we build snow fences along the windiest sections of the road. Can I say- we fence the snow in? And if we can do that, I ask/tell the cowboy, then I want to fence what I call August out.
August: the hurts, the pains, the aches.
Last night I stayed out of the heat, watching the movie, The Children of Huang Shi, a true story set in the 1930’s when Japan invaded China. A side story in the film involves a nurse who never has enough morphine for the people she cares for. In one scene we watch the defeated give in to the world of back-alley opium. You still feel pain, the subtitle text advised, but it no longer hurts.