Highlights in the Dark

People say that you learn so much by traveling and experiencing different cultures. That’s true. But it isn’t always necessary to leave home to do that. Try just changing your schedule. While you are getting your eight hours of shut-eye (I know…who REALLY gets eight hours of sleep?) a lot is happening all around you. The world keeps turning while we’re dreaming –  and lives begin, continue and end while the moon reigns just as much as when the sun is marking the hours.
This was displayed very clearly about a month ago when we woke up and found that a young man had wrecked his motorcycle and died within a few hundred feet of our house…and we were all blissfully unaware. That’s a strange feeling.

Last night was also a reminder of that…but in a much happier, more adventurous way. 

As I said before, it’s been a horribly hot and dry summer here. Hay is almost impossible to find locally, but my brother needs hay to keep his little menagerie alive over the winter. Goat lives, sheep lives, donkey lives, cow lives…all looking to him for their every need. Trusting him. Depending on him. Forcing him to order hay from out of state. 
Forty-two round bales, to be exact. 
After a few back and forths about what day it would come, John was told to expect the shipment around 3:00 in the afternoon. Then the time got pushed back. And back. And back. Finally he was told the driver left Missouri and should be here around midnight. 
Midnight? Really?

“Could he just wait a few hours and come at daybreak?”

“If you don’t want that hay, we sure can find someone else who does!”

…..”Midnight it is.”

Tera and I volunteered to help however we could, John thought some flashlights might be useful, and we settled in for a late night. And waited.

A call at 11 to see how it was going informed us that the load was two hours away in Tulsa. Hmmm…to sleep or not to sleep? Nah, it wouldn’t be worth it. But at 12:30 he hadn’t quite REACHED Stillwater yet, and another call at 2 revealed he hadn’t LEFT Stillwater.

AND….he was lost. Very lost. The poor guy thought he was going north when he was going south and didn’t know where he was and couldn’t understand why the people he tried to flag down wouldn’t stop and direct him. John spent 30 minutes talking him down to the highway he needed to be on. I think it was about then we realized we’d be pulling an all-nighter. John served up some ice cream and the three of us started to snicker…and then chuckle…and then laugh as we lay on his office floor updating facebook with crazy comments and wondering how in the world this poor guy could make a 5 hour trip into a 10 hour trip and speculating  about where the directionally challenged trucker would end up and when. “Enid at 4.” “No…Witchita.” “No…Dallas.” “I think he just keeps pulling over and sleeping…and then acting like he’s on his way.”

As we got word that he was finally getting close we made our way up to the road. Slowly, slowly…..slllloooowwwwllllyyyyy, we watched his headlights crawl up our street. So timidly. So hesitantly. So explanatorily. Doooooowwwwwnnnnnnn thhheeeee hhhiiiiillllllllllllll. Oooooovvvveeeerrrrrr ttttthhhhheeeeee bbbbrrriiiiiddddggggeeeeeee. Paaaaasssstttt tttthhhhhhheeeee neeeiiiiiggghhhhbbbboooorrrssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss. With some roaring and chugging and groaning the monster of a truck with it’s massive, looming load hissed and shuddered to a stop…at 3:37 AM. Precisely.

I looked up. And up. Forty-two round bales…on a trailer that was at least as high as my shoulder. With the lights of John’s truck shining on them, and the lights from the semi, it was all so weird and so eerie and so not a part of my normal routine.

Ever so slowly, the diminutive driver with a scruffy gray beard and a squinty, scrunchy face climbed down from his cab and ever so slowly he started to undo the strong, wide straps that held the bales in place. Ever so slowly he told us how a 65 year old woman loaded that trailer of hay, and it took her 5 hours to do it.

Our favorite neighbor came to help with his bigger tractor that could reach the top layer. John drove our smaller tractor. Tera was tractor traffic control on the other side of our gate and I took it all in from my post near the truck where I stayed ready to help where I could. 
Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Maybe it was the contrast of the spotlights and the darkness. Maybe it was just the craziness of it all. But the tractors took on personalities. “Uncle” Ron’s was bigger, steadier, a bit clumsier. He reached what the other couldn’t…was the more experienced and more cautious. John’s was smaller, quicker, more agile. His spryness enabled him to get into spaces and twist and turn with lightness and ease. Ron’s would powerfully stab each bale. John’s would handle each with grace and finesse. 
The bright sliver of the moon peeked in and out of the scattered clouds…but persistently glowed in spite of it all. The wind picked up at times and blew loose hay into our hair and eyes and mouth. Cool raindrops felt fresh on our hot skin and shone in the streams of light. For two hours I smiled, Ron whistled, Tera directed, John hustled. The driver…ever so slowly…did whatever he did. We worked together. And it was fun.
I headed for my room as the sun started to come up. 
Sleep? Nah. I’d have missed an adventure if I’d have slept. And and crystal moment or two to boot.
Live is full of adventures. This world is full of characters. Some of that is highlighted in the dark.

11 thoughts on “Highlights in the Dark

  1. Wonderfully written, Sage. It was almost as if I could smell the hay, feel the rain, and imagine what mixture of sounds the night and the tractors would produce. It was rather a serene place it took me! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know. STILLWATER!! I don’t think I could get that lost if you blindfolded me! ;)I really think the guy was just snoozing whenever John wasn’t on the phone with him. 🙂

  2. And now you know why some of us crazy people choose to work nights…or prowl at night…well, both! Everything looks and sounds different at night, and you are right, Sage, it highlights characteristics we might miss by day. What evocative writing, loved this.

  3. BTW this is melissa who posted that comment right above… for some reason when I try and leave a comment with my google account profile it won't let me???? do you know why?

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