The grayish sun is bright enough considering it is still midwinter. Though in the mid-twenties I went out with a woolen sweater. It was easy to keep warm. I am not in very good shape, so I putter along. Come March usually I have had enough of hibernation and look every day to an outside job getting done. Now the yard truck is dead, since the battery won't hold a charge, and one of the front tires has a slow leak becoming ever faster. Once was my fondness for old things that subsequent to a junkyard visit I'd have jumped on that old truck with a bevy of junker parts. But I do not see enough future left of my time on earth any more to go to the trouble. Anyway, the old truck started after a time on the battery charger, and the air compressor inflated the tire. I'll use it tomorrow to clean pens, if the battery ain't dead and the tire ain't flat. If the battery is dead and the tire flat, I'll charge and inflate again and clear pens day after. Good idea now, while waiting for the battery to charge and such to split some firewood. So I pick up my splitting maul and I gaze at the sky, and swing away absently and wonder about how much time do I have left on this precious earth. I'd go far for a book of prognostication; I might even consider a swap of my soul if the devil had the power of time line for souls, which I reasonably doubt, though the devil whiles not by reason but by whim. Most souls on this planet whim easily supersedes reason, why should it not me? Although distinctly true for the numerous who make the evening news, many quiet, unobtrusive ways to depart reason present themselves. Wonder what the devil looks like, by the way? I prefer the snake in Eden to whom God has given voluble chit-chat. A neighbor on the next hillside whose southward facing farmland was once the grandest pride of dairy farming imaginable, who raised her babies on the dairy's raw milk and who now farms the lush grass pastures, will swear to you up and down that this is the garden of Eden and God willing she will find heaven just like it. I asked her about the evening news. She waved her hand as if brushing away a gnat and went on about her work. With bailing and stacking to do this was no time for reason. What? Did I not hear the snow crunching behind me, as if some soft padded devil were trying to sneak up. Good reason to put down this heavy maul I bought close to a generation ago, and keep watch for a minute. I think I was kidding about my even up swap with the devil. But we have become ancient, feet and head are cold in the bad weather, and the devil, should he show up with a soul's future, might receive consideration. But no thing stood up in the snow except the maul I dropped. What did it mean when you get older and imagine devils with the future in hand padding behind you and you no longer feel like yourself but some other fool? My splitting maul isn't as light and handy as I remember only a few years ago. When I bought it the young fellow at Lowell Lumber who sold it to me swore his wife could handle hers like nothing. But now one swing and I am huffing and puffing. Even the heavy breathing from hard work does not seem like it used to, a pleasure of sensuous feeling, rather now a nauseous dizziness. I know that I have turned the corner, rebel against it though I will. I don't know when it happened. I think there was no specific time, no one time I can point to where the decline started. It just started, as if I, a parched soul, had come upon an illusion. I didn't feel ill. I remember thinking that I needed more sleep, but it did not occur to me till much later that I felt tired because I needed more sleep than usual. I mean the sleep and the tiredness got all mixed up in a general weariness. I wasn't sick. It was generally a good time in my life. Nothing much disconcerting was happening as had happened before when I was laid off a time or two, as I'm convinced has happened to many another, admit it or not. I had good jobs, but the roller-coaster took a dive, and I had bad jobs, then a passable job came along and I stuck with that, and me and the old lady carried on with her beloved herd of goats. She was the real farmer; me, the writing was always in my back pocket and it hurt like a ball of pins when I sat on it. Now who is that shambling up the driveway? A neighbor I know probably wants to borrow something. I swear he has grown horns. Though I have known him as long as I can remember I hardly know him at all sober. Wonder what HE knows? You might be surprised who knows what.