Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

“Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say.
Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away.”
 ~ John Heywood, 1546 AD

I fall down a lot of rabbit holes through my days. I have a highly distractable mind and I follow a lot of thoughts away from the party and into the woods. It can be a problem but I do explore ideas and concepts and learn a lot of new things because of it, so, all in a day. 

Recently, in exploring quotes and sayings about hay because of some photos I had taken, drawn to and interested in local hay bales because visually I think they are like giant fields of Shredded Wheat, I discovered this gem about making hay: Make hay while the sun shines. The saying apparently originally appears in John Haywood’s “A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue” dated 1546, although it is thought to have originated much earlier from Tudor farmers of Europe. The saying warns farmers to make their hay while the sun is shining. It is about taking advantage of an opportunity while the opportunity still presents itself. 

In Tudor England farmers didn’t have the technology that they have today to determine the weather. The best they had was “red sky at night” to help them decide. So, they had to get it whilst the getting was good, you could say. If they waited another day to make their hay they could risk it raining and ruining their harvest and the growing season would have all been for naught. This was a pretty big deal. That’s where this Proverb came in. While it was sunny and the conditions were good it was best to make the hay lest they lose the opportunity. They said this so often to remind themselves and others that it became a verbal chunk of wisdom you handed out and repeated, passing on the knowledge for posterity and, let’s face it back then, survival. Think of how important hay was back on Tudor farms when animals were relied on even moreso than they are now.  Getting your hay made was akin to getting your business done.

This saying struck me when I found it. I thought it was neat. As far as I could recollect I had never heard it before. I wondered why, after years and years of these hay bales. There are cornfields and fields of grasses galore where I’m from and I’m still here. I’ve been driving these roads since I was a kid, literally. I rode plenty a dirt road atop a cooler or in the back of a pickup. Suffice it to say I’ve seen a bale of hay or two. I remember my dad parking us on the side of the road to go out into a field and climbing up on one when I was young. Being placed on one, perhaps? Hay bales were huge as a kid, they’re fairly big to an adult but as a kid they are giant things. It felt like you were on the top of the world as a kid, sitting on a hay bale. Or at least like you were riding a horse or some other mythical creature made of grasses. It was fun and my dad knew how to have fun because he also followed ideas and thoughts away from the party and literally into the woods. He could be rather impulsive and curious; we never knew what we’d be doing. Sometimes we rode hay bales. 

Fields and fields of hay made by local farmers, we drive by it all the time. Shredded wheat, it resembles, I’ve often thought; if I were to make a diorama of a farm I think I would use Shredded Wheat as hay bales. Frosted Mini Wheats for winter scenes. Sometimes they wrap them in white plastic. This makes them look like fields of puffy marshmallows. Marshmallows would be great in a diorama too. I digress. 

I pondered this advice in my own life, for there are times that I have left my hay to rot in the field and wasted a perfectly fine harvest. Motherhood is teaching me to weed out what isn’t necessary and boil down what I need into a condensed stock of wants and wishes. I reckon that's a fancy way to say prioritize. Adding a third kid has lit yet another fire under my ass. If you want to be a breeder and a creative you need to learn to make your hay when the sun shines, get it while you can and move like you stole it. Conditions are never right for long. If you don’t move on something when the opportunity is there chances are you’re going to miss it. This sounds like a call to impulsiveness but it’s not. Much of life is about timing and yet it’s hard to tell when the time is right for anything. I am never going to have uninterrupted large chunks of time to write or create or do anything that restores me but I desperately need to do those things or I do not function properly, my soul begins to feel imprisoned. I need to take full advantage of opportunity, however elusive it may be, if I don’t want to lose myself in motherhood. This is a call to seize the opportunities that present themselves while the getting is good, whether that’s a job change, or a creative endeavor or simply getting anything done with 3 children in tow. It’s about getting your business done, finishing what you set out to do lest you not be able to finish it at all and sometimes just riding those hay bales.

A field of frosted mini-wheats this morning.

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