Friday, December 2, 2022

The Field Behind the Plow


Photo by Lynn Gurdak

A heritage of rolling hills and farmland is a rich legacy; if you’re blessed enough to have lived among salt of the earth people in rural places, then you are blessed enough.

In many regions across our great land, one can claim “farmer” identity without having tossed a single bale of hay; we are farmers by proxy – identifying with the fields of dry cornstalks adorning the roadways; the smell of burning leaves is in our DNA.

If you have thrown a bale into the loft, or if you have witnessed a sunset while atop a rumbling tractor seat, then you are stitched into the very fabric of rural life.

Like the harvested fields, we are preparing for a season of rest and quiet; a hushed interval of waiting.

Recently I discovered the legacy of singer, Stan Rogers, a prominent voice of Canadian folk music. Rogers was noted for his rich baritone voice and traditional songs, inspired by the daily lives of working people -- especially those from fishing villages and farms. Sadly, he died in a fire aboard an airplane at the age of 33.

Rogers wrote the lyrics to the song, “The Field Behind the Plow.” In the words, I dug out this beautiful gem:

“Watch the field behind the plow turn to straight dark rows,
Put another season's promise in the ground.”

The sentiment is about Springtime and the planting of seeds; the formation of tidy rows and the much-anticipated harvest.

As we hunker down and fortify our walls against the elements, I like to cast a different light on that line: “Put another season’s promise in the ground” might also give a nod to a fresh blanket of snow, covering fields that have recently lined our pantry shelves. Orchards and vineyards, soon cloaked in ice, have given us pies and applesauce; juice and wine; preserves and jams.

Another season’s promise becomes a provision for the winter months. We can, with abundance, enjoy the taste of summer in the darkness of December.

While the earth freezes, we can still savor the juicy delight of a garden tomato. Or Grandma’s impossibly yummy watermelon rind pickles.

This is what I love about farm country. Promises abound whether it’s planting time, growing season or harvest. Promises even thrive in winter when the fields are at rest.

If joy is measured by produce-laden tables, may your pearls be pomegranates; may your diamonds be sweet corn.

Next time you see a resting field, consider the one who planted and worried when it didn’t rain; the family who unloaded their pickup at the farm stand, week in and week out.

In that field, deer may be bedding down at night. Turkeys will perform their comic dance across those brown fields. Geese will stitch seams into the sky overhead.

These, too, are promises of the season: things we can bank on, no matter the economic downturns.

Savor the moments. As Maya Angelou famously wrote, “Buckle close friends to your soul.”

We really can have summer memories in the raw winds of wintertime.

Photo by Lynn Gurdak

This piece also appeared in the November 2022 edition of Silver Magazine - printed by The Post-Journal, Jamestown NY

Kathy Joy is an Indy Writer for Capture Me Books; she eagerly awaits the debut of her new children's book in January 2023.