I was in Mr. Z's barn last fall. The hay was all loaded in the truck and paid for- he didn't charge me nearly enough, considering the drought last year- and I was wondering in the back of my mind what was expected. How long does one stay and talk with a kind neighbor who just sold me hay? Certainly, some amount of small talk was in order. He was extolling the benefits of grass for the soil, over corn, which is a rich topic.
As he talked, Mr. Z gently leaned into our truck. It was a casual gesture. It wasn't exactly reverent, but definitely respectful. He rubbed his hand over the scraped paint, like the truck was an old friend. I thought, he's touching my truck. Wow.
When it felt like the moment was right, I got into the truck, he stopped leaning on it, and I drove away.
I didn't think about it again until yesterday, when I was reading You Can Farm by Joel Salatin, his chapter on "Being Neighborly," page 169,
"Take time to talk. When your neighbor comes over, lean on his truck. Farmers love to see people lean on their trucks. I guess it's real close to a hug or something. Maybe it's like a cat rubbing up against your leg. Anyway, farmers get fairly lonely out there in the field and they look forward to unhurried conversation."
Now I understand.