In 1951, I was spending the summer at our family cottage on Georgian Bay. I was fourteen and my brothers were eight and four. Mom was with us all the time while Dad was in the city during the week, and came out on weekends. Occasionally he came out on Wednesdays, just to sleepover and drive back. It was two hours each way, but Dad loved to drive. He was very comfortable in his big, black, Buick Roadmaster.
We had friends, the Smiths, who had a cottage nearby. They also had a hobby farm a few miles from our beachfront place. It was early July, and their hay crop had to be harvested before it was too late. Mr. Smith came over and asked if I’d help get the crop in. In those days, hay wasn’t automatically scooped up and tied in neat bales or huge rolls.
A horse pulled a large wagon out into the field that had been cut and dried. We pitchfork people moved along slowly, tossing the forks full of golden stalks of hay up onto the wagon. Two guys were up on the wagon, catching the forks full from us and building a haystack under themselves. They were the sons of the farmer that worked the farm for the Smiths. They had given me work gloves, but I managed to raise a couple of callouses anyway.
Around midday, the farmer’s daughter brought sandwiches, coffee and water for the crew. She was driving a pickup truck to bring the lunch, and she parked it in the shade of poplar trees at the edge of the field. The farmer’s daughter was named Cloe, and she was sixteen years old. She sat and ate with me, and talked about her life on the farm. After lunch, she decided to stay and help toss hay up onto the wagon.
The sun was hot, the air was humid, and the sounds of the millions of insects filled the air with clicks and calls and chirps. Sweaty clothes clung to our bodies, and I couldn’t help glancing over at Cloe. The way her breasts pushed against the wet front of her shirt when she threw a fork of hay up was… nice to see. I’m pretty sure she knew I was looking, and maybe she liked it.
The sun was glowing bright orange over the western horizon, and the crew was preparing to take the wagonload in to the barn and store it in the loft with a conveyor belt thing that carried it up. Cloe tossed her pitchfork onto the hay on the wagon. She took my fork and tossed it up too.
“Wanna see something?” she said. Before I could answer, she grabbed my hand. I found myself stumbling across the field, trying to keep up with her. Cloe led me to a large bramble of raspberry bushes. “C’mon,” she said, “Let’s go in.” I pulled back.
“I’m not going in there!” I said. “You’ll get torn to pieces on the thorns.”
“Follow me, Dopey,” she said. She ran around to the other side of the large bramble bush and disappeared. I followed cautiously and found myself looking at an opening in the thick foliage. It led to a foxhole kind of hollow surrounded with dense raspberry bushes. I went in. Cloe was lounging back on the dirt bank, plucking ripe raspberries from bushes around her and popping them into her mouth. I sat against the opposite dirt bank and looked at her. She glistened in the shadows, her face, hair, neck and chest shone with perspiration.
“Eat some,” she said. I picked a raspberry and put it into my mouth.
“Good, eh?” she said. I agreed with her. She put several raspberries into her mouth at once and chewed them. She laughed, and the red juice ran down her chin and dropped onto her wet chest where her blouse was open two buttons. I watched the juice trickle down her chest to disappear into her shirt. She was watching my face with a bemused grin. “Do you want to lick it off?” she said. She began to undo another button.
“I can’t. I mean… the wagon’s leaving. I have to catch a ride in to the barn,” I said.
“We’ll go in a little while,” she said. She rose to her knees and removed her blouse. “My truck’s still here.”