Exhaustion

For the last five months I have been working on a small scale organic farm. It has been an amazing, eye-opening experience, but has not been without difficulty. The region I worked in has endured the hottest and driest summer since 1888, and as a result, work, water, and patience of everyone involved have been pushed to the limit. This short piece describes how I felt on at the end of a particularly hot day in August.

“Really, really tired. I’m so drained, exhausted, deeply fatigued it feels like I am just clinging to consciousness.  All I want to do is lay down and watch as the world just rolls over me. At least that’s what my body and the majority of my mind is asking for. Rest, apathy, entropy. Please, please let my body cool down. I feel light-headed all the time, blood rushes to my head when I stand up, my body pours sweat into the sheets  and folds of my mattress at night. Heat, heat, heat. So much heat inside my body, coursing through my muscles. My heart pumps fast, to flood its red medicine around my flesh. My stomach growls and aches in its anguished cries for more. More fuel to stoke the ceaseless, tiring throb of my heart. And still the work continues.

Each morning, the day is darker, the sun less supportive of the hours I must keep in this struggle with a distant patch of dirt. Colder mornings, foggy skies force more heat from my body, which in turn asks quietly for more rest. The days move on and my mind slows. My voice fades from use as the demands of this labour suck away its energy. The details mingle, the dirt cakes and crusts on my feet, my hands, my mind. The silent sound of growing plants fills my dreams and the slow patient turn of the earth takes the place of my clock.

Now soft red fruits move through my hands to a small basket. Each one in its own stage of ripe. Each in its own race to mature and spread seed. Each its own and each part of many. The vines I pull from are heavily pruned and neatly trellised, growing high above the ground reaching for the sun. I see the neat scars of my shears on each one and remember, how left to late, I spent days untangling their uncontrolled growth, in this endless agricultural battle. The active guiding of a landscape.

I look up and see another farmer. Another exhausted, enlivened human. Another set of hands moving forever up and down the red fruited vines. I feel the soft sound of another fruit as it loses its hold on the plant and moves into my palm. The small weight, light in my hand, now added to the ever growing weight of the basket at my feet. The basket fills as the vines empty, and as ever we move down the row, in rhythm, the sun moving over our heads as the earth turns this little patch of dirt towards tomorrow. One last golden red fruit through my fingers and we leave the twisting, tamed green vines knowing we must return.”

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