I have lived in the country long enough to know the sound. The clattering at my back told me what was coming. An air-conditioned tractor, toxic green,12 feet high, drawing a harrow, its blades dusty and sharp. After it passed, I stepped into the road and watched it turn to the fields. I heard the harrow drop and the scraping, rock-cracking cutting begin.
For five hours it made pass after pass. So many tree and barn swallows skimmed the dirt behind the harrow that I could not count them. Insects must have been rising in a mist indiscernible to my eyes. I walked the ground that evening — crumbled in the hand, it has the clayey consistency of crumbly flour made a little too wet. It smells of must. Big rocks turned up by the blades, ready to be lifted and tossed onto a wagon — this land had not been plowed for years.
Now, like bones brought to light, one can trace the curve and slope of angles. The fields rise and rise toward the west. They fall on a moderate pitch to the south and east. The tractor had only made one circuit. He had not crosshatched the land. Scattered over all, hundreds and hundreds of individual stalks of Goldenrod and Blackberry and Aster now stood alone. These heavy June rains have driven moisture deep into the soil. Harrowing is better than poisoning. It will all come back. Like an incantation, I keep saying that to myself.