You know the old saying “She comes from hardy stock”? Apparently, before 1200 “hardy” was attributed to boldness and daring in battle. In this sense I have never had to look far to find examples of boldness and daring, though “the battle” was one of ordinary everyday living rather than war. Let me share a photograph I took this fall when I was up at my parents’ farm in rural British Columbia.
Now, it is not a very exciting photograph and possibly not even very interesting. There is the farm dog and rows upon rows of covered round bales of hay. But, if you look closely, there is a smallish man who on a good day stands about 5’5″ and weighs about 145 lbs made up of sinewy muscle. He is on no medication and is closer to his 81st birthday than his 80th. These hay bales got here with one tractor, haying equipment and this one man. Though getting the fields planted, cut, baled and stacked for the 30 head of cattle is enough of a job, it is not the most dangerous of strategic tasks in the plan. That label belongs to getting the hay covered with those huge tarps. What he must do is put the tarp on the forks of the tracker and lift it up to the top of the stack. Then he gets off the tractor and scrambles up a ladder to get himself up on the last top narrow shelf. From there, he is able to situate the tarp so he can unroll it over the haystack. The tarp is heavy and awkward. If it slides off, or the wind catches it and blows it off, he has to start over again. But, feeling most pleased with himself, he has developed a way of folding the tarp so that its own weight will unfold it into place as he steadily opens it across the top of haystack. There isn’t much to hang onto so the work must be done with caution and dexterity. I helped him a couple of years ago and then, with the help of my daughter, got him a climbing harness and rope that he could anchor to the tractor for this part of the job. But it didn’t work. This would require two people. One on the tractor moving it along and one unfolding the tarp. So back to plan “A” he goes.
Now he didn’t just one day decide to climb along the top of a haystack at 80 years old. This man was a hand feller of trees for much of his young adulthood – and a good one. This is a job not only requires quick thinking and the physical ability of an athlete but also being able to anticipate and plan ahead. In fact, your life depends on these abilities. Later on, he operated a line skidder and so on. He has never stopped asking flexibility and strength from his body. I see him crawling under equipment and up the sides and then down again and I still get tired just watching. On top of all this, my parents still grow a huge garden and beef. They spend about half the year being able to say that their dinner was “0” distance from farm to table. So, over all with no smoking and very little drinking, he has done the maximum to keep his health.
Is this life hard? Is it difficult? Is it a worry should he get hurt or fall? Yes, to all three. However, the quality of living is of high value. If you suggested maybe he should be thinking about selling the farm and moving to an apartment in town, he would ask with a shrug “Then what would I do!?”
I feel the same way about painting!
This man is great at figuring out how to do what appears impossible. How about you?
What have you recently figured out that at first appeared impossible?
© 2017 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com