Tending the (h)earth

Once upon a time there was a dairy farmer named Jo. He was no ordinary farmer as he lovingly tended to the crops twice a week that would feed the cows, and the cows thoroughly enjoyed chomping on the freshly hewn hay when it came. And that was not in itself so strange. The strange thing was that Jo had no hair. Not on his head, on his face, his chest nor legs, not a whisper of a whisker. He’d been born bald as an egg and had remained that way his whole life.

This might not have caused a problem in the city or near the ocean, but in the country the grass seeds and cow fur regularly got into his eyes and up his nose, and the cold winds would bite at his skin and he could not break out in a fortress of goosebumps to arrest the onslaught of chills.

What he DID have which was unusual was a baseball cap. And THAT wasn’t so strange but he had put a very fine butterfly net over the top of it in order to stave off some of the impending irritants. It seemed to work quite well, and at the end of each day he would take the net off and wash it by the back door to weigh the seeds and fine hairs down into the soil. And THIS is where it began to get weird.

The grass seeds began to grow, but as they were mixed in with the cow hair they had bits of cow in them, and as the net had been on Jos head his own sweat and tears were mixed into the hummus, and the strangest sprouts began to arise from the soil; at first seeming like leaves, a bit furry but leaves nevertheless. And they grew quickly, and the stems began to tangle, and it seemed they were turning into a great mess.

One day Jo felt he should chop back some of the leaves, and they smelt so fragrantly sweet he felt to eat them. They sat so warmly in his tummy he felt almost giddy with glee. Every night he would pluck some leaves to add to his evening meal, which made him feel like a king.

As he plucked more leaves and the plant grew he noticed a curiosity in the way the stems were growing. They seemed to be weaving themselves together. As more leaves were cut back he realized the furry stems were beginning to look alarmingly like a thick winter coat. And as he ate more of the delicious leaves each day he started to notice little hair follicles appearing on his skin. At first they were prickly like a baby cactus, then stretching out into a fine dewy fur atop his pale skin.

As the days got shorter and chillier and the nights longer and more frightful he noticed the last of the leaves dying suddenly off the strange plant that had self seeded. As the leaves wilted away, the tiny hairs on the stems all shot out a little more, creating a thick fur, before wilting to the ground. Jo thought this precious gift was lost, but as he picked up the strange plant it released its hold upon the earth and fell into his embrace, and with uncertain calamity he tried to put it over his shoulders, and found that there were sleeves that fit perfectly over his arms, and as this home grown armory against the cold wrapped softly around him he felt so joyous at the abundance which had been gifted to him.

As he went out to tend to the fields and the cows they seemed to sense themselves in him. And the wind slowed to a whisper so the grass seed stayed in their husks, and the cows seemed to be unusually still so their hair remained intact, and his newly grown head of hair warmed him from the thin winter air. And in the hummus where his jacket had grown a tiny sprout began to show its’ little head above the soil.


Written by Tjoni Johansen


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Her email is info@eccentrix.com.au. Many thanks.


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