My roots are in rural America. I revel at the whippoorwill’s cry in the early morning mist.
Seasons for me are planting, growing, harvest, and rest. Translation: spring, summer, fall, winter.
My neighbors are people of the soil with an uncanny understanding of corn hybrids, marketing tools, and diesel mechanics.
They know how to read the clouds and how to signal an auctioneer. They embrace technology when it saves them time but reserve their evenings for homemade ice cream and warm apple pie.
My neighbors know who plants the straightest furrows and whose wife/daughter/uncle is fighting an ailment. They will band together to plant or harvest crops for a downed farmer and contribute generously to fundraisers for kid, accident victims, and others in need.
They also know how to laugh.
There was, for example, a farmer who called the service manager of the local tractor supply company. A pump had failed on his tractor during harvest.
The service manager checked the parts book and found two different pumps for that model, one on each side of the tractor. “Which side of the tractor is the pump that failed?’
The farmer hesitated. “The one on the west side.”
Harvest mania does that to you. In a controlled panic, farmers try to get the crop collected before the hail or wind seizes its share.
Another farmer was harvesting corn. He turned his combine toward the road one morning only to see the sheriff’s car, lights flashing, at the end of his field. He finished that pass in the field and stopped his machine near the deputy, who stood with hands on hips but revolver still in its holster.
“Hey, James,” the farmer dusted off his hands, straightened his cap, and extended a dusty palm to the deputy. “What’s up?”
“I’m here to arrest you,” the deputy said.
“What?” The farmer glanced around him for some clue.
“You’re supposed to be at jury duty this morning. Want to just drive in now? Because if you don’t, I have an arrest warrant in my car.”
The farmer missed the morning’s harvest that day.
Then there were the two Jones brothers (names changed) who had missed a couple of rounds when God was handing out wits. The neighbors noticed one morning that they suddenly had a new combine, perfectly timed for wheat harvest.
And the sheriff was notified that morning that a farmer several miles away had reported the disappearance of a new combine.
When the neighbors heard about the missing combine, they called the sheriff who headed out to talk to the Jones brothers.
It had been an exciting morning for the brothers because a guy had stopped by to offer them the deal of the day. For that morning only, they could buy a new combine for $1000. A new combine at that time sold for about $100,000.
In some places, the Jones brothers might have spent years in jail. But the sheriff took the keys and returned the combine.
No charges were filed against the Jones brothers. They groused a little about the $1000 but the sheriff told them to consider it a payment in the college of hard knocks.
Rural people know all about that.