Harvest, baseball and dear old dad

combine harvester

“Gaze upon the countryside, all ablaze with color, and consider the hand which painted it all!”

— Margaret Ateu 

This is the heart of a season that slows us down enough to enjoy the grandeur all around us. The leaves are absolutely stunning as the bright blue sky serves as their backdrop and the sunshine dapples the entire show with brilliance. 

Even as oblivious as children can typically be, I remember taking it all in from atop a hopper wagon filled with shelled corn one late autumn afternoon and realizing we stand in the midst of something absolutely amazing. 

This is the time of year my heart is filled with the soft bruise of melancholy for my dear dad, wishing so much I could just one more time hear his invitation to “come ride a few rounds” in the combine with him.

It seems like it was just yesterday that he proudly placed the infant safety seat in the combine, securing it with the mighty force of a general about to enter battle, simply so that he could safely entice a grandchild or two to ride a few rounds in his many cornfields as he harvested under the autumn sun. 

My sister recalls the fall harvest that convinced her second son it was time to be a big boy, because his grandfather was not too fond of taking a boy with a diaper bag in tow for any length of time. 

Dad would often stay up a bit too late to watch the baseball playoffs, joking that he would need a chattering grandchild or two to keep him awake the next day in the combine. 

I still recall, with a lump in my throat, my young son cheering the Cleveland Indians on in the 1997 World Series, wanting so desperately for them to win it for both of his grandfathers, who had so recently passed on. 

I remember finding Cort in his bedroom, the tears flowing, on the day of the big loss. “I just wanted them to win it so bad,” he choked out, “for Grandpa and NiNi.” 

I was able to turn the tears to a smile by convincing Cort that both grandpas were probably too busy looking after the neighborhood corn harvest to dwell too much on the World Series. “Just think, from up there, they can tell who planted the straightest rows and who should go back to school to study straight lines all over again!” 

The radio carried news of post-season play a couple of weeks ago, bringing that sensation of deja vu, as I watched a combine move across a seemingly endless field of corn. It all felt wonderfully timeless.

It is this universal emotion that connects us all, and there is nothing quite like this season to set a heart to wishing we could share the glorious wonder with those we’ve loved over a lifetime, no matter what the calendar on the wall might say.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.



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