March 20th…“WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER AS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR AND WHY?”
The earth was yielding her fruited harvest to us and the trees became giant flowers in gigantic breathtaking hues………yes, Fall captured my heart when it came to a favorite time of the year to find pleasures for this farm boy. Of course, every season shares their magical wonders to us, but that one special point on the calendar of yearly life held many facets of the “jewel” it was for me to enjoy.
Harvest time, on our farm, took center stage each Autumn. Of the many agricultural plantings that our parents gleaned from God’s dear soil, corn was the crop that held a major role in feeding our livestock of cows, hogs, horse, chickens, etc.. Dad had an old Farmall F-20 tractor that he kept dedicated to reside inside the enfoldment of a two row cornpicker. It was hard to say which was older, the cornpicker, or that old Farmall F-20, yet they both rose to the challenge of harvest each year, so we were grateful.
There was little, if any, muffler to quiet the sound of that 1930’s generation of tractor, so everybody knew when it was time for the corn harvest to begin as Dad sparked that old “beast” to life. It was always easy to know which field Dad was in as he was picking corn; all you had to do was step outside the door of our farm home and hear the GROWL of the F-20 “beast” as it fueled the raw power to the cornpicker. In the pristine clarity of that crisp, Fall air, the unmistakable fragrance of the field corn permeated the entire farmyard and had a delicious distinction all its own……so pleasant, yet difficult to describe.
Sometimes, in the lull of the busy harvest activities, a wagon load of field corn would sit idle on our farm yard. In these older days of harvesting corn, the ear of corn was plucked whole from the stalk of the corn plant (unlike the shelled corn of today). The mountain of maize piled high in that wagon looked like a fun playground for my little sister and I to climb to the top and explore. We were giddy with glee as we played among the thousands of ears of corn that awaited the conveyor that would auger them up and into the tall, metal mesh corncrib where the harvest would dwell over the Winter months. Children are often innocent of life’s dangers and, on that day, it was almost deadly for this farm boy. I recall going to the corner of the wagon and I began to excavate cobs of corn out of the way so that I could snuggle deeper and deeper into what almost became my tomb. There I was, digging myself further into that wagon corner when suddenly……the corn load shifted and hundreds of pounds of ear corn slid up against me and trapped me tight. I was cemented (so to speak) by that corn and panic set in quickly. It was even becoming hard to breath as the corn pushed against my chest. Thank the Lord, my darling sister came to the rescue in speedily grabbing and throwing ear corn away from my compressed body. I, too, was flipping ears of corn away from this predicament as fast as I could. The combined wild tossing of those ears of corn eventually allowed me just enough wiggle to pull myself from what could have been a literally crushing situation.
Eventually, through the faithful work of Dad and his crew, our amber harvest of marvelous maize made its way into our wire corncribs. After a time of drying, a grinding company from Kiester would come out to the farm to grind these ears of corn to a finer meal that our animals could easily chew and enjoy.
As if spectators to the mortals and their harvesting, our age old windbreak of deciduous trees were ablaze in their gigantic mantle of Fall color. Their “grand finale” of the season’s growth was taking place around us as each tree’s brilliant hues were set in glorious contrast against an azure blue sky. God’s enormous bouquets of orange, red, bright yellow and mellow gold were on display for us humans to ponder upon as the magic passing of another season was before our very eyes. Like a curtain closing the act of a beautiful play, Winter’s winds would soon strip the petals of these crisp “flowers” and usher in the next season of rest and cold for our rich Minnesota farmland. These are but a few of the reasons why Autumn has been my favorite season as I relish each year of life God has given to this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.