The changing of the leaves has always made a deep impression on me. I think it is because it reminds me of harvest time.

Harvest time. In the words of James Whitcomb Riley, “When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.”

Harvest time. When you reap the rewards of sowing and planting and tending and hoeing and weeding and spraying, and a thousand other things that must be done to ensure there will be a harvest. Harvest time. When you don’t complain if the harvest is lacking and you don’t apologize for a bumper crop.

When I think of harvest time my mind is flooded with a thousand sights and sounds and smells and feeling — good feeling.

I think of a mule wagon piled high with ears of corn, pulled one at a time from golden corn stalks. And I think of tired, chapped hands (bring on the Corn Husker’s Lotion). And I think of an old corn crib filled to the top with ear corn still in the shuck. Corn that made its way into that crib pitched through a high window one scoopful at a time.

When I consider harvest time, I am reminded of the smell of fall hay resting high in the barn loft. And I recall the summer heat when the first cutting of square bales was unloaded and stacked high in the barn. And once again I feel the suffocating heat under a tin barn roof where the air was not moving and the sweat was pouring. And I remember the dust from red clover and Laredo soybean hay when, at the end of the day, you could blow a bale of dark-green hay out of your nose.

Harvest time — when the smell of the air in the feed barn was almost intoxicating. The smell of the hay, and corn shucks and corn silk, and the pungent smell of manure made for an earthiness that made you feel alive.

And for this part of the country, how can you think of harvest time without recalling the tobacco harvest? I am speaking of (or writing about, of course) that part of the harvest which involved taking down, and stripping and booking and all the steps involved in preparing a crop for sale. Which brings to mind drafty, old tobacco barns, stripping rooms and stripping tables, “trash,” “lugs,” “bright,” “red,” “tips,” “tie leaves,” and tobacco stalks piled high. Why, I declare. I can shut my eyes and I can smell it!

And when I recall harvests of the past, I would be remiss to leave out “hog killing.” Now that’s a harvest to remember. It seems neighbors don’t get together in a common cause any more. But back in the day, a hog killing brought people together.

A hog killing involved more art than science. A fire had to be prepared to heat the water in a scalding box. And the water had to be heated to a certain temperature. There was always one neighbor who specialized in shot placement with a .22 rifle. Those .22 shorts hardly made a noise.

My friend, Wayne Winfree, says there is nothing better than fresh pork tenderloin battered and fried while still warm from “the kill.” Now that’s fresh! I, myself, would submit the first samples of fresh sausage while being tested and sampled for the right blend of sage and red pepper is hard to beat.

Which brings to mind a question? Did you ever stand by a big black kettle and eat hot cracklin’s till your belly hurt.

Harvest time. Forgive me in advance for my grammatical error, but don’t it make you thankful?

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