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The 'hay days' of my vacation

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After the baseball game, the television rascals try to shove a commercial down my throat before I can push the mute button, so the other afternoon I was told that if I'd use e-mail I could have things delivered daily while I was on vacation. I have decided not to worry overmuch about the folks who think up things like e-mail. But I do worry about all the people who think they need their mail while on vacation. It was an earlier scribe, one O.O. McIntyre, who wrote that a woman may live with a writer all her years and never learn that he is working while he's just looking out the window. I doubt if anybody looking out a window ever excused himself to go on a vacation.

My grandfather, an early adviser on affairs in general, told me that when I tired of hoeing in the garden I should take a rest and go over and sit on a rock in the stone wall. But, he said, always pick a sharp rock so you don't sit overlong.

When I was maybe 13 I went in July to visit my grandfather, who then lived alone in the big farmhouse and had cattle and big gardens and devoted that month to putting about a hundred tons of loose hay into his 100-foot barn. I had visited Gramp often, but always on weekends, and this would be my first extended call. I had a wonderful time.

First, my great uncle was home to help his brother hay, and he was a lovable and comical codger it was fun to be with. Then there was Stephen Bondurky, the hired man of the moment who spoke Hungarian and had no teeth, two high school boys who came just in time for dinner and got 50 cents an afternoon and their supper, and Jimmie Norton, who mowed with the machine until the dew dried and raked and bunched when it was time. Jimmie was clever with horses, but that wasn't too important if you took a critical look at my grandfather's elderly Tantrabogus, who was said to be crowding 30 years and didn't have any teeth either. And me, myself.

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