“It’s not that kind of farm.”

“There were a whole bunch of US Government cars at that house down the street yesterday.  They were having a picnic,” JJ said. 

            “I’d be worried,” Carl said.  “You move in and the Feds are here in force?  There are no coincidences with the Feds.”

            “Seriously, they were playing horseshoes and Wiffle Ball.”

            “Some kind of team building thing.  Probably telling Canada jokes.”

            “Do you know any Canada jokes?”

            Carl put a finger to his temple.  “I only know the one where Canada is known as America’s Hat.”

            “So what does that make Mexico,”  JJ asked.  “America’s underwear?”

            “You know we can’t talk bad about the Mexicans.  Canadians are fair game.”

            They sat on chairs on JJ’s farm.  The barn was almost converted into an indoor basketball court.  JJ had wanted to add a hot tub courtside but the town wouldn’t allow it for some reason.  So there was a gazebo outside the house where the hot tub would go.  That was fine.  Everything would be ready by winter.

            “The farming life is not as hard as I’ve heard,” Carl said.  “When is the farm warming party?”

            “Next week.  Labor Day.”  JJ could see across the valley to the ridge on the other side, trees standing out all along the ridgeline, marching up the slope.  It was a cool evening after a hot day.  Late August in New England.  The best.

            “Who’s coming?”
            “Everyone.  Family, too.”

            “Lila?”

            JJ shrugged.  He pictured Lila walking down the hill to where they sat near the barn.  Then he saw her stalking away last spring, snow still on the ground, on the day he bought this place.  JJ had been busy since then.  He was helping grad students plant native trees.  He shopped for gym flooring and talked to contractors about eco-friendly materials.  He had friends over at night to cook sausages on the fire and look out over the valley.

            “Is Lila coming,” Carl asked.

            “We’ll see,” JJ said.

            “She’ll come.  Out of curiosity.  She wants to be around to see if you train wreck.”

            “Yeah, or to gloat,” JJ said.  “To say I told you so.”

            “Or,” said Carl.  “More likely, to pick up the pieces.  And put you back together.”

            JJ sighed, “She’s done it before, I guess.  But hey, let’s play horseshoes before you go.  I made a pit for the party.”

            “You got horses on this farm?”

            “I told you,” JJ said.  “It’s not that kind of farm.”

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