Monday, October 23, 2006

Missing the Wheelbarrow Woman

Back in the summer was the last time I saw the wheelbarrow woman. An extraordinary old'un whose back was paralysed in a permanent 90 degree bow - a lower-case 'r' of a woman, forced by her spine to stare intently at the ground at her feet rather than the fields and sky around her. These were my thoughts at that time.

She sits in her wheelbarrow fanning the flames of summer. She must be 90 give or take a decade. Ruddy of cheek and stooped of back. She sits there in her wheelbarrow hidden from view by a large straw hat. She breathes like a marathon runner collapsed at the finishing line. Shoulder-heaving gulps of air. I pass her most mornings, and some evenings, too. A rice farmer. In the evening she carries a torch. Just as well. In the pitch dark country lanes it is difficult to spot a tiny old woman sitting in a wheelbarrow. On a blind corner she often stops. We have had our fair share of near misses.

Beginning to wonder if we've had our last near miss. I fear she has pushed her final wheelbarrow.


Blogger Maethelwine said...

A sad anecdote. Odd isn't it how the deaths of even people we never spoke to can diminish our days. I expect it will be more or less impossible to replace a tiny old woman in a wheelbarrow.

8:52 PM  
Blogger jh said...

She still hasn't appeared. Perhaps it is because the field work is over for the year. But more likely its not only the harvest that is done and dusted.

6:46 PM  

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