Friday, October 7, 2022

In the Field

A farmer friend turned 50 last week and to minimize interrupting his ongoing harvesting, we and some friends surprised him and joined his family to have supper in the field. We sat in lawn chairs next to a folding table situated among the razed straw and chaff at our feet. Nearby the combine waited, its hopper overflowing with grain, a bountiful yield this year. On one side of our "dining room" the yellow straw stubble twisted around curves snaking up along the tree-lined field into the horizon, and behind us stretched a wide valley filled with poplars, their yellow and orange leaves falling silently. Scented like ripened barley, the air smelled as pleasing as our friend's chocolate birthday pie. 

The experience conjured some long-ago memories of my brothers, my parents, and my grandparentsall farmersduring those early years on fields I haven't visited for decades, among people long gone. As the youngest child, I had few duties on those busy and oftentimes chaotic Fall days and evenings, yet (like always) I observed and I listened and learned the meaning of physical labour, the satisfaction of hard-earned accomplishment, the patient ache of waiting for the weather to change, and how to put my needs second. While we ate in those fields of my youth (my father's one eye on the sunset), it often felt like something I did not know how to name then: appreciation. 

Friends, if you can, thank a farmer. 

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