After a long and tortuous pursuit, the Ouroboros has finally caught it’s tail. I’ve been working on the farm off-and-on for years now, but this is the first time I’ve stuck around for twelve consecutive months — for the full epicycle of preparation, planting and harvest.
The soaring cottonwoods are golden once again. The sandhills and snow geese have wafted back to their southerly riparian oasis along the banks of the Rio Grande. Morning mists on the EKG ridge of the Manzanos.
Today rain beats down on the sheetmetal shed we’re cracking garlic in. Seems strange for November to sputter with lightning and thunder, but what do I know? People are always under the impression the sky’s not doing what it’s supposed to.
So easy to forget how unreliable our memories are and how minuscule our sample size is. Even if we lived for 20,000 years and could remember each day perfectly, would this really be enough to establish seasonal norms for a world as old and wizened as ours? (Still, I don’t think the weather was like this last year…)
At any rate, we’re hunkered down in our little tenebristic grotto, squeezing bulbs and peeling off paper wrappings and flicking purple cloves one-by-one into a cardboard box. Kind of incredible how much force is necessary to get the job done. Hands like vice grips. Simple machines woven of ligament and bone.
Not a half-hour in and already your fingers start to feel swollen and rheumatic. How many cloves will I push into the dirt in the coming weeks? Maybe my math’s off, but I think I can do about ten thousand in an eight hour shift. Takes a lot more than eight hours to sow these beds.
Being the agricultural pipsqueak that I am, I wonder if it’s possible to get stress fractures this way, fingers stabbing into the dirt like a scorpion stinger affixed Claude Bernard-wise to an electrode. I wonder what it’s like to be a real farmer — the kind who works without complaint every minute the sun’s out. The kind who works because their life depends on it, aches and pains be damned. I wonder if it’s time for lunch yet. My watch reads 10:07am. I break for lunch.
But clocks are everywhere. The shivering second hand on my wrist is nested within manifold processes, whose cacophony drowns out the pulsing of my Casio. Cyclic revolutions within cyclic revolutions. Such as:
Big Bang, Big Crunch. The silent journey of one celestial orb around another. High and low tides of glaciation. The swelling and shrinking of rivers. Beta decay and invertebrate reproductive sequences. Creeping shadows in late afternoon, when the cloud cover breaks apart and silver light extrudes through the openings to illumine dormant furrows.
This corpse of mine is a clock too; also the mind enthroned within it. Though I don’t push myself all that hard out there in the fields, my body’s tired — the erosive force of constant movement through space. Sure, there’s healing in the off-season, but I can’t get, “The Final Countdown,” out of my head.
Contented, though. Couldn’t be happier, in fact. Each season awakens its own distinct suite of neural connections, and I delight in the groundswell of brumal recollections, expectations and ineffable mental energies.
Something about the angle of the sunlight at high noon this side of the autumnal equinox. Something about the way it crashes against my retinas. You feel it in your frontal lobe. It’s like sinus pressure, only accompanied by grandiose delusions and a Pynchon-esque sense that you’re on to something big. That the wave is about to break.
And again I say: The Oroboros has caught its tail. It always does, and even so I’m always surprised. Time has turned transparent. November superimposed over November, and it’s all playing out at once, as if the unfolding of last fall were a standing wave you can go back to any time simply by taking a few paces up stream. Breaking bulbs, making small talk, the dredging of acequias centuries ago, sodden mastodons grazing, the in/out breathing of seas, the churning mantle and the mysterious spark that set the writhing serpent into motion.