Farm kids have all the fun.
Except when they don’t.
Maybe I should explain.
In my day, hay on the farm was cut by machine. Bound into bales – also by machine. Gathered into neat stacks in the hay loft or hay shed.
And left there smelling warm and fragrant.
For some reason, it always made me think of baled sunshine.
We kids would spend hours lugging said bales around and constructing intricate forts and ‘hidy-holes’.
Many a day was passed dreaming dreams from inside a dark, sweet-smelling stronghold.
In my Dad’s day, hay on the farm was cut by horse-powered mower. Gathered using a horse-drawn rake. Moved using a great hay sling. And piled into massive mounds of loose, fragrant wonderfulness.
Sheds on either side of the large barn housed the farm animals. But much of the barn itself was given over to an immense pile of newly-gathered hay. A perfect place for a young boy to spend hours working . . . on his imagination.
Building a fort was quite a different prospect in these circumstances. All one had to do was put one’s head against the wall of the hay pile and . . . push. The soft, loose hay gave way and one could burrow through much like Bugs Bunny on his way to Miami Beach (See here).
Ten-year-old Dad made a positive warren of the place.
When a boy finds something really, really fun, he generally wants to share it with a friend or companion.
Or, barring either of those, a young nephew will serve almost as well.
Enter four-year-old Brian, son of Dad’s eldest brother. Sweet, malleable, totally trusting, eager. A perfect companion for an adventurous devil-may-care farm kid.
Dad drew him into the barn and showed the small boy how to push his way into the hay. Brian thought it was greatest trick ever and started in with enthusiasm.
And that’s when the whole plan came to grief.
Because little Brian suffered from asthma and was allergic to the timothy in the hay.
Within seconds, his eyes were swollen nearly shut, he was coughing and sneezing and – well, let’s just say it - was one thoroughly miserable little adventurer.
Fortunately Dad recognized that all was not as it should be and managed to drag his companion from the hay and hurry him to his mother where Brian was soon made comfortable somewhere far, far from the nasty old timothy.
Dad felt bad. Bad enough that he never again invited Brian back to his magical little hay-strewn world in the barn.
But not bad enough that he didn’t get him into trouble in other ways.
Remind me to tell you about it . . .