The farmer had cut his crop. With singing hearts and shining eyes, we looked on in wonder. There was so much hay! Planning out our evenings adventure began in earnest. It was going to be so much fun! We felt so lucky to have a house on the edge of the estate – overlooking a farmer’s field that went on and on until it reached the tree line of the woods and the farmer’s cottage beyond. Such a wonderful playground – speaking to us in seasons – its colours changing with the crops.
It had been a hot day but also rainy, so we decided to wear our cagoules. The front pockets of those raincoats were amazing! Not only did they store the raincoat itself, but it was great for carrying sandwiches in, and once the sandwiches were eaten, we would fold them and compete for the star prize of “prestige” for the tidiest packet pocket. I think that’s what we used to call it, anyway.
Having met at the arranged time, just after tea, we climbed with well-practiced skill over the green mesh fence. It was about a metre high, but it was not in the slightest bit stable so choosing the right foothold and momentum to lift yourself over was quite important. The foothold needs to be not too high and not too low – swinging as the fence bent with our weight from a high foothold was terrifying but not being able to climb over from a low anchor would lead to scratches and possible failure.
We scrambled gracelessly over to the other side, landing on the furrowed edge, and stepped up on to the slightly higher flats of the field. It smelled delicious. Dry and grassy, yet hot and damp – earthy and humid and buzzing with insects and faint whispers of dust that had yet to settle after all the hectic harvesting.
Racing across the field, I was feeling slightly terrified. We were, after all, trespassers.
Our crime was immediately forgotten with the first hay fight of the summer. Racing and dancing, howling, flinging handfuls of hay at each other. We were positively wild!
The plan we had made to build hay hills, no… haystacks, was a success and we used them as trampolines and crash mats– catapulting and somersaulting with running jumps as terrifying human projectiles – practically screaming with laughter. I don’t think we’d ever tried this before, and probably never would again, (but we had planned to), on that fine and lovely day. Such fickle children living in a shining moment forgetting that tomorrow was another day. Having played until it started getting dark, the streetlamps flickering from across the field were now telling us it was time to go home. I didn’t want it to end and perhaps the others thought so too, judging by the bereft looks on their faces. It had been so much fun!
A little dishevelled, I was surprised when my return was not met with too much commentary, but the next day was a different matter. Somehow, I’d managed to bring a million caterpillars back in my raincoat. They were everywhere and causing all kinds of upset from the cupboard under the stairs where we hung our coats and kept the vegetable rack. It was initially received with humour but in the end, it became clear that I would be scolded all that morning when enough was most definitely enough. The thing is the caterpillar problem just would not even try to die down as a new caterpillar would rear its hairy head every other minute. It was as if that cupboard was haunted by caterpillars, and it became draining. My mother was huffing, and my older sister was puffing – deep down glad it wasn’t her who created such a drama for once. Because she often did, I can tell you! But it was worth it. I still remember the absolute joy for that haystack adventure and the caterpillars who came, too.
Published in Mom’s Favorite Reads