My oldest daughter wrote a college essay about hauling brush. The topic startled me, then stuck with me. With great insight, it tapped into the essence of our early family life. The six of us spent many weekend days together, hauling brush, hauling leaves, hauling lopped tree branches out of view, into the woods. This toilsome activity united us in more ways that we even imagined.
Hard work had high value, but hard work shared was something greater. Reducing a massive brush pile to a clean piece of land feels good. When you do it as a team, the satisfaction is multiplied. You are helping and being helped. You belong to more than your own sphere of endeavor. You share grudging reluctance followed by action. You share scratched legs and circuitous stumbling through bracken and brambles. You share tricks – easier handholds, the best paths in and out. Education, tribulation, and celebration! What better use of family time? (Don’t answer that, children.)
The other day Jonathan attacked some overgrowth with his chainsaw and a machete. Then we hauled brush. A couple of hundred yards of smoothed grass mark our drag trails to the woods behind the compost pile. Just like old times! Except I could barely walk the next day. Our labor force has shrunk, in more ways than one.
Another pile is still out there, calling. Maybe I should wait and share the joy, next time some of the kids are home.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 56: 242 words, TOTAL = 8703; 51,297 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.