What a Woman Can Do For a Man: { Just }

He watches the weather, blue sky, blue screen.

He’s waiting for mercury to plunge low, solidifying earth’s crust; waiting for the water pores in each soil particle to glaciate.

He needs the fields to freeze like concrete.

It comes on Tuesday while we sleep.

He’s fed sows in the dark and he’s in from the barn, pulling an extra pair of wool socks on just as red rays grip the edge of the horizon, fireball pulling itself up and over.

I warm up the corn heat pads in the microwave but he says no, it’s his fingertips that will burn numb, chilled right through.

From the window, I watch him go. He’s frost seeding red clover on one of the handful of days each year that it’s possible.

The night freezing has split fissures over the earth.

The Farmer will ride across the fields of still dormant winter wheat, frozen land, on his all-terrain vehicle, broadcasting red clover seed into the cracked ground.

When that celestial fireball coaxes mercury higher, earth will thaw, soften, seal the cracks. The clover seeds will be closed up in earth, awaiting resurrection.

They call it “green manuring.”

You grow your own fertilizer, interseeding a legume like clover into an already seeded winter wheat crop, so that following the harvest of the wheat come late summer, the clover crop catches and takes off during the fall. Tilling that clover into earth naturally fertilizes next year’s crop. Green manure, leafy and fresh. The only opportunity to green manure your fields is on the last icy tip of winter.

Toes toasty on register, I watch Farmer Husband out in the lane calibrate the seeder. Sparrows huddle at the corner of the shed, polar winds blasting through feathers, skittering them across snow.

He’s got a couple hundred of acres to seed.

I serve soup into bowls for lunch, one for him too, but his place is empty when we bow heads, give thanks, dip bread into steaming warmth. After closing the meal like we always do, reading Scripture, prayers,hymns, I slip his bowl into the fridge.

The hands on the clock above the kitchen window fall hours later, late afternoon, when I happen to see him back in the yard refilling the seeder with clover. I grab my coat; I just want to see him.

Open the back door and the cold air bites. Bracing, hunching hunch shoulders high, I turn my back to the moaning wind, let it push me down the back walk.

The seeder’s already filled with clover when the wind shoves me into him. But he’s kneeling below the seeder, there at the back by the muffler. He’s got his gloves off.

“You okay?” I shiver, dig my hands deeper into pockets for some hiding heat.

“Can’t feel my fingertips.” His cheeks are a bare, raw red, all goose bumps, his hands a stinging crimson. And then I see what he’s doing.

He’s filling his gloves with the heat from the exhaust.

“Oh, man of mine….” I kneel down beside him. I’m kicking myself for coming out here with no hot drink to offer those wind-blunted hands… or another pair of gloves, something.

Empty handed, I feel foolish even asking….

Is there anything I can do to help?”

He turns towards me. “Yeah…” He grins.

Just encourage me.”


As the Farmer headed out to seed clover across the wheat again this week, I revisited this memory from archives, to { just }…