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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Good luck with harvest

© Another Day in the Country

A couple of men, one more weathered than the other — one worked in the produce section of the grocery store and the other obviously had spent many a year out on the land — passed each other in the produce section of the grocery store. They were chatting about the weather, the crops, while I chose tomatoes, apples, and avocado. There was a lull in their conversation and the produce guy said to the farmer, “Good luck with your harvest.”

The phrase stuck in my head as I drove home from the grocery store. What a nice thing to say to someone, “Good luck with your harvest!” We aren’t all farmers, watching the wheat ripen, wondering about the yield; but we are all harvesting, in one way or another.

Sometimes, reaping what we’ve sown is easier to spot in our lives than at other times. Right now it’s graduation season and our youngsters are receiving the reward of 12 years of schooling or more years of college. “Good luck with your harvest, you guys!”

The diploma is nice, a reward unto itself, but the real harvest that we look for after graduation is finding a job. Not only do we want a job that will support ourselves, but wouldn’t it be nice to find a job that you just loved doing? And are the days really long gone when you can expect to get a job and stay in that job or a particular field of interest for the rest of your working life? “Good luck with your harvest!”

We just had Mother’s Day a few weeks back. Coming up to that date is a kind of harvest, where the family acknowledges all the hard work, the good meals, the long nights, the tender loving care that mothers lavish on their children. As a mother we do this nurturing and the discipline, whether we admit it or not, because we are looking toward the harvest. Nope, the harvest isn’t the cards and letters, it’s the life that they see their children able to lead. The harvest, for any mother, is the fact that these kiddos (our crop) are productive, happy, healthy, good people.

Health is something we all cultivate, right? You can’t put junk into your body and expect good health any more than you can plant weeds in your field and expect wheat. It takes years to reap the harvest in our body, whether it’s smoking or over-eating, so pay attention to that body of yours and “Good luck with your harvest!” And if you don’t like the crop, plant something different!

Sometimes when my body is feeling a little creaky, I talk to it and praise it for all the ways it has served me all these years. And then I say, “What are you needing right now?” and listen for the answer. We take so much for granted when we’re young. Right now, I’m so thankful for knees that work.

Retirement is a harvest that we all hope to receive in our later years. “Good luck with your harvest,” I mumble as I listen to the latest economic news. On the upside, “Blessings on Social Security and Medicare.” I’d be in the soup without them. I was reading the other day how much savings a baby boomer should accumulate before retiring and it was over half a million dollars. Wow! Who has that kind of money?

After retirement, the next harvest we experience, I guess is when we die. Depending upon your belief system, whether you’re headed for Heaven, another round, or the ether, “Good luck with your harvest.” My parents believed firmly in the concept of Heaven. They stored up their treasures in serving others and prayed for the Second Coming to arrive before their life was up.

I think my Dad, the minister, was the most disappointed in his harvest at the end of his life. His ending years felt like a massive crop failure to him as his body and his health gave out on him. Mom had an easier time of it all the way around. Her harvest came early, unexpectedly, in her sleep.

Like many Americans, I’m not so sure about a literal Heaven or Hell — seems to me we do a pretty thorough job of making either of those a reality, already in our present life. If at the end of my time, I discover that “this life is it,” and just having life, experiencing aliveness, is the reward for being brave enough to risk it, it will be okay with me, I think. You never know about these things until you’re in the midst of it all — like not knowing the yield for sure until you’ve had the combine run through the field.

It’s an extraordinary day in the country when harvesting begins! Last evening, my cousin Keith and I went out to take pictures of the wheat fields before they are all gone. We each picked a head of wheat, rubbed it in our hands like old experienced farmers, blew away the chaf and popped the wheat in our mouths, testing the dryness, the plumpness of those kernels. The fields in Marion County are beautiful! “Good luck with your harvest!”

Last modified May 31, 2012

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