“I thought that maybe you could take charge of the orchard…” he said waving his beer in a casual gesture that belied the magnitude of his words. “We could run it as a separate entity now that the lambs are doing so much better. I’ll still give you a hand of course.” I looked at him, more surprised by the terms of his offer than by his request for assistance, which I had been expecting for a while.
Since coming here, fresh out of university at the age of 22, work had always been a problem. The region is rural, lacking industry of any type and I had never had the career I’d always dreamt of. I suffocated in part-time secretarial jobs, the only work that I could find, trying to fit it in around children and the farm accounts and paperwork. My own various attempts at business had always turned out to be more or less financially viable; their failure due as much, I suspected to the lack of time that I could devote to them, as to our remoteness. There just never seemed to be enough hours in the day.
I swirled my beer around, watching it slosh up the sides of the bottle, the thoughts in my mind doing something similar. I liked giving my husband a hand in the orchard – putting up the nets in the spring, thinning out the apples in the summer then picking them in the autumn. These were nice “warm” activities that I did willingly, enjoying the chance to be outside in the sun.
There was one task however, that I shied away from. Cutting back the trees takes up a large part of the winter and I had always found an excuse not to go. Temperatures drop to sub-zero and the wind gusts over the mountains, whistling through the irrigation system, freezing hands to secateurs whilst rows of trees stretch away into snowy eternity.
I knew that it was this that he had in mind for me. He desperately needed help for a job that collided with lambing, and which alone, would take him almost 4 months on and off. I suspected that by offering me management of the orchard and the profits, he was trying to sweeten the pill, encouraging me to take the final step towards the farm instead of looking for more part-time work elsewhere.
I set my bottle gently on the table trying to buy myself some time to think. Would I be able to fit it in around my secretarial job, and more importantly would we make any profits this year? In the end the decision wasn’t hard to make. He wouldn’t be able to do it by himself again and we couldn’t employ anybody; I would have to give it a go. I might even enjoy it I thought, as I took the calendar down from the wall. I flipped it over to December then drew a long line through the whole month and wrote “O r c h a r d” carefully alongside.
From Sunday Scribblings prompt : decision