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By Verlyn Klinkenborg

Celebrates the agricultural existence, its pleasures and hardships, and the wonderful thing about the yank panorama, in a sequence of reflections akin to the months of the year.

summary: Celebrates the agricultural lifestyles, its pleasures and hardships, and the wonderful thing about the yank panorama, in a sequence of reflections reminiscent of the months of the 12 months

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By nightfall the snow in the fields was fox-deep. Every evening just at dusk I carry two hay bales into the middle pasture. One goes into the high feed bunk, the other into the feeder just below it. Each bale is bound by two strings of sisal baling twine. I cut the strings near their knots, which were tied by a mechanical baler sometime late last summer in a Massachusetts hay field. The bale springs apart, and the hay falls into flakes. I coil the strings into a neat loop and put them in my pocket.

What I want a journal to do could be done just as well by a more aggressive savings program. A conscientious journal keeper is really the natural historian of his own life. His model is the amateur naturalists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, writers like Gilbert White or collectors like George Eliot’s Camden Farebrother. It often seems as though science in this century has little use anymore for amateur observers of that kind, that science has grown too institutional, too complex, to value the private watcher of a small patch of ground.

We need it in the middle. The signs of spring are thrown away, like unheeded hints. Robins mope in the lower branches of a thick-budded magnolia, waiting for the worms of open turf. The red-winged blackbird I heard in a treetop the other day sounded, somehow, like an asterisk. The chorus of birdsong is entirely different than it was a few weeks ago, but to me it lacks an objective correlative. The tip of a single crocus would do. The house is full of seedlings, especially basil seedlings, all of them at the two-leaf stage, but hooded and mum.

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