Fall harvest with the grandparents in late 70's/early 80's middle America
A Ride in the Country in the Fall
Years ago, I was sometimes invited to ride along as grandpa combined corn and grandma hauled it to Farmer's Grain. Grandma drove an old, 60's Chevy, grain truck with a baby-blue cab and red dump bed with white trim. It had Looney Tunes, Road Runner floor mats my aunt Lisa put in. (Her dark blue AMC Gremlin had lady bug floor mats; I note a trend). The truck purred like a giant kitten at idle and groaned cheerily thru gears as we rolled lumberously* thru the field to go where grandpa was waiting to offload corn from the combine into the truck.
It was a bright, cool, early fall day with blue skies and a few puffy clouds here and there. A light windbreaker was all I needed to feel comfy. The corn glowed golden in the afternoon sun and the smell of the harvest was thick in the air. If you've never experienced it, I just don't have the words to explain it, but for me the best description I can give it is simply glorious.
Grandpa came across the CB radio, "Big Green to Silverbird, would anybody like to ride up here with me? Over."
Grandma smiled and looked over at me, "Would you like to hop up there and ride with grandpa?"
I grinned a big grin, I'm sure, and shook my head yes. Of course I wanted to ride with grandpa!
"10-4 Big Green. Handy Andy would like to help you run the combine. Over."
I jumped down out of the truck, careful not to slip on the big metal step getting out, then high-stepped thru the corn stalks to the ladder going up to the platform outside the combine's cab, grabbed the rail, and started to climb.
"Be careful now, honey! Hold onto that rail and watch what you're doing!", hollered grandma at me over the sound of the giant combine engine humming next to me like a freight train. Grandpa reached his arm down from the platform and said, "Take your time, there's no hurry."
I climbed those stairs and got into the air conditioned cab of the combine with grandpa. The air in there was beyond wonderful with the smell of corn, "new combine smell", and the sweet scent of the Salem cigarettes, that grandma and grandpa both smoked, mingled together. I was in heaven.
Grandpa had folded down the arm rest so I could sit beside him. He showed me how to swing out the auger over grandma's truck and told me to pull the lever to start it up. With a confident grumble the augur came to life and a flood of bright yellow corn began cascading into the truck.
When the truck was full and we'd brought the augur in, grandpa had me start up the grain head and he eased us on down the field. He let me steer and I did my best to hold a straight line; it took a lot of effort for my over eager hands, but he helped and we harvested.
When grandma came back from the grain elevator, we pulled beside her and loaded her up again. I jumped back in the truck with her, it was around 3 by now so officially "snack time". She had some cold pop for me to drink and some cookies wrapped in tinfoil to munch on.
We snacked while grandpa loaded the truck and when he was full we slowly trundled out of the corn field, grandma maneuvering over the cross-rows as tenderly as she could. I learned how hard it is to hold an open can of pop while you're bouncing thru a corn field!
What a glorious time and place to be alive! That part of my world is gone, lost in part to my family moving to California for 5 years, then to teenage indifference and, ultimately, snuffed out like a candle when grandpa died unexpectedly one November. That way of life still exists in a fashion, but there are so many fewer farmers out in the field anymore. It's just not the same. Much larger operations and much fewer mom and pop shops. So goes the world.
What I wouldn't give for one more sunny fall afternoon with grandma and grandpa out in the field during the harvest. Not a care in the world. Safe and secure.
* - Ya, I made up a word? Wanna fight about it? Did you feel what it meant? Welcome to a living language!