I love the fall of the year. There’s just something about it that brings a feeling of satisfaction to my bones.
For me, it starts when the leaves on the trees begin to make a different sound at the stirring of the wind. And then comes the morning I walk outside and the air has an unexpected bite in it. That sends me back inside looking for a flannel shirt. Soft flannel is hard to beat when the temperature starts to fall.
The next experience to which I look forward is catching the first smell of smoke from a fireplace.
But I think I treasure the fall season most because it speaks of harvest time. Harvest time ... one writer referred to it as that time “when the frost is on the pumpkin and the corn is in the shock.”
Harvest time ... when you gather in the fruit of that which you planted in the spring and nurtured through the summer. Harvest time … to put it another way, when you go about reaping what you sowed.
I’ve seen a few harvests in my time. I was in on putting two dozen or more tobacco crops to rest. There’s no feeling like the bone-tired satisfaction one experiences when the last tobacco stalk is cut and spiked and the last stick is hung in the barn.
And corn crops ... I’ve seen a few of them finished off as well. Most of the corn crops I saw were gathered by hand and scooped from the wagon through a high window in the corn crib. The door to the corn crib was boarded up so that the corn could not fall out into the hallway of the feed barn. We pulled the ears of corn out from between the boards until we could create a space for opening the crib door.
There’s nothing like the feel and smell of a corn crib … corn shucks, corn silk and corn cobs. And there were rats, mice and chicken snakes.
Whenever I see a corn field, golden tanned with the coming on of harvest, the best feelings are conjured up for me.
And there were fall hay crops, which we stacked high in the old feed barn. Over the log pen, the stoutest part of the barn’s structure, we stacked fall hay all the way to the barn’s tin roof. It was a mountain of hay. Newly-baled, fall hay safely in the barn ... now, that’s a different smell altogether.
In my boyhood days, calf crops were usually sold in the fall of the year. And the second of two sets of top hogs went to market about that time as well.
Harvest time is a time for taking stock, or assessing your situation ... for taking a backwards glance. And it is a time for being thankful.
I have often considered the many advantages of growing up on a farm. One thing you learn on the farm is the rhythm of the seasons and the flow of nature. Actually, it is more picked up than learned. It is something that seeps into your bones. You experience, first-hand, the miracle of planting and harvesting, of sowing and reaping. You learn that a crop must be defended and cared for, that there are certain processes that must be followed. You also learn what works and what does not.
And you learn not to apologize when you take in a bumper crop. You also learn not to complain when the harvest comes up short. It is all a part of the life experience.
As the New York Yankee great, Casey Stengel, once said, “You win some. You lose some, and a few get rained out.” So it is with the harvest.
God is a genius. He placed harvest time just before winter time. In the winter, we have time to review the past year and contemplate the spring. How much will we plant in the spring? If the harvest was disappointing, will we find the courage to plant again?
But planting must go on. Without sowing, there can be no reaping.
I guess, above all, a farm is wonderful place for learning to trust the Lord of the harvest.
Hartsville resident Jack McCall is an author and motivational speaker.