By Wendell Berry
A burnished day in September 1952 presents the framework for a story that movingly distills the life of an uncommonly admirable if very human being..
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Additional info for The Memory of Old Jack
The work is done at the barn, the men have gone home for the night, the place has fallen quiet. He feels the melancholy of the old house reach out toward him and touch him like a draft of cold air. And then, behind him, he hears a horse stepping along the road. He turns and sees a man turn in at the gate on a high-headed bay. The man, whom he has seen before but does not know, rides up beside the boy and stops. He is a young man with good eyes and a heavy brown beard, whose squareness of build and breadth of shoulder make him appear less tall than he is.
They have the look about them of being just ready to burrow into the ground. For a moment he glimpses a load of tobacco drawn by the team of black mare mules. Stepping. Ay! Lord! His thoughts have left him for another place and time. For the day it is and the time of year and the sound of the wagons going out have alerted him, as if at the sound of an old song in the distance, to the time when his strength was bright in him. Oh he was something to look at then! He admits it now with a candor too impersonal to need modesty.
As though the reins are in his hands, and he stands again on the rattling wagon, they are carrying him to the field. The sun is just coming up. It is the fall of the year. The mules are in good flesh, the hair glossy on them, and they are fresh from the night. They step together in the harness with an eager lightness that for a moment shortens his breath. They were the first team of their quality that he ever owned. They were, maybe, an extravagance. He bought them because he needed a team, no question about that.
The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry