Saturday, August 25, 2012

Quaff

quaff
verb, transitive. To drink something, especially an alcoholic beverage, heartily.

The moment he waited for--every day when he cultivated the fields in early summer--was the mid-morning break. He didn’t wear a watch. He waited until the sun was positioned just so in the sky, about two fingers’ width above the hickory tree of the east windbreak. That was break time.

He shut down the engine and climbed down from the steel seat, molded to cup a man’s behind and pierced for a little ventilation, but not padded. He would walk to the fence along the row he had just disced, looking side to side to assess his progress; thinking about the deep prints he was leaving in the fluffed earth the tractor had left hehind. When he reached the fence he would open the cooler he had left there in the shade, open it, and remove a quart jar of cold tea. With one swift, thirsty wrench he would remove the two-piece Ball lid, tip the jar to his lips, and quaff it, not pausing for breath until the contents were half-gone. He would survey the entire field then, letting the cold of the jar’s contents penetrate the palm of his hand, thinking about how much more he would cultivate before the long break he took for lunch. He sipped at the jar in this ruminating state, enjoying the dappling shade and sunlight, until it was drained. Then he would make sure the cooler was closed up before he trudged back to the tractor, started it, and resumed his toil.

Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.

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