FallowTime


"Nothing like that looms until planning season comes."

Long planned, I quickly executed the work in four days spread over three weeks, owing to the weather and my personal preference for procrastination. Too much sun or two much wind and I figured I was better off waiting for some better moment. The final push, two frenzied days, occurred as they always seem to, in a blur. Once I allowed myself permission to finish, goosed by the clear threat of an impending snow squall, I left my senses behind, immersing myself into the job at hand. Those final few sandings, several squirts of supplemental caulking, some final perfunctory smoothings of unredeemably rough surfaces, and I started opening paint cans. Oil based primer for the bare spots, a thick acrylic to smooth over gouges and caulkings. The acrylic dried to the mottled patina of Elmer's® glue. This first frenzy left me with nothing to do until the next day.

The next day, I debated whether the final day had actually, finally, arrived. By mid-morning, having finished my writing for the day and feeling terribly ill-at-ease, I finally surrendered to the inevitable.
I am never excited at the prospect of deploying my considerable painting skills. They're more of an embarrassment for me. I open paint cans and compare the various textures and colors from three separate legacy batches. They look to be about the same color, a different color, I'm mindful, than what their dried coats might be. I decide upon using the freshest batch, the one full gallon. Four hours later, I'm pulling up the painting paper and razoring off the window tape before standing idly in the driveway peering up at the drying paint.

I can stand there only so long. Darkness eventually comes, and while I do step out a couple of times to see how the fresh coat looks by moonlight, I watch myself entering the extended ill-at-ease portion of the program. The work's finished. The snowfall comes. I've run myself weary leaving no reserve. There seems to be nothing that needs doing, anyway. I clean house some, a fine distraction intended to fill in this sort of awkward gap in the proceedings, but the deferral seems especially short-lived. I'm entering FallowTime. I have no idea what farm fields do while resting between crops. They seem to sit there bare naked and chilled, not even crappy daytime TV to distract them. The odd deer might traverse. The equally odd hunter. A few distracted birds. The old font of fecundity suddenly dried up and wind blown.

I have plenty of work in the queue, or so I reassure myself. None of that work seems as challenging or as diverting as an out-of-body painting frenzy. It's all too cerebral, not nearly demanding enough for any muscle memory-driven skill to guide it. I paint on pure instinct. I quite literally lose myself while engaged. After, every muscle whines as if their skill had been roughly extracted and crudely used. Once I finally began that work, nothing could have stopped me. Cramping hands could not let go, even after a few hours gripping that brush. My knees groaned over constantly shifting roof slopes. I moved like Walter Brennan over rocky ground. Now, I gaze out the window wondering what I've found.

These payoffs deliver only in execution. As grateful as I might feel when the chore finally finds its completion, I never feel like celebrating then. Maybe I used all of my celebration when reveling within the job doing well. I more grieve these endings than welcome them. FallowTime floats on some sublime nothingness. I cannot get interested in that latest best seller. The plot seems contrived. The type font, too tiny. The weight, the approximate equal to the considerable weight of the world. Overall, I'd much rather find myself mindlessly immersed than mindfully at ease. I need another overwhelming physical challenge, something I'm clearly too old to be doing, something I might fall off of and grievously injure myself. Nothing like that looms until planting season comes.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved










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