Last night as hubby and I drove into town, we could see the dust from many combines making their way through fields of grain, one perfect row after another.
As a child of a farmer, it boggled my mind how Dad could keep the lines so straight. We did have a fancy machine, but our ‘fancy’ only equated to an enclosed cab, a CB radio that Jessie could use to call into the base station with a panicked, “Dad, I am stuck!” and an 8-track machine. It is important to note that Jessie managed to find the only low, wet spot in the field.
Harvest is my favourite season. I love the changing colours and smells. I love the way the leaves crunch under my feet and, most of all, I love when the mere site of combine dust triggers my brain to recall simpler times.
Harvest time was busy in our household. Mom would be busy pulling everything from our large garden and getting it stored for winter and Dad would be busy in the fields. My sisters and I would be ‘helpers’ which could mean a quick trip to town to get a tobacco can of grain tested or spraying off potatoes with the garden hose so they could dry in the sun before tossing in the cold storage.
Everyone in the small community was busy doing exactly the same thing – rushing to get the grain off the fields. We were bonded through a common purpose and little things like 12 year olds driving into town, the seat pulled up as close to the pedals as possible, a pair of coveralls under the butt to get some height so that the road was visible enough as they pulled into the station with a can of grain to get tested, was not seen as out of place or worrisome in the least.
Hard to believe that these days I worry about my grandchildren’s car seat being installed properly or that the clasp rests securely across their chest – not too high and not too low.
I digress. The point was that we were all busy getting our grain off the fields and time was never on a farmer’s side. You got busy when you could get busy and you didn’t stop until it was completed.
Imagine this flurry of activity and my 39-year-old father suffering a massive heart attack. September 14, 1978 while my mom drove my sisters and I to school, my Dad found himself with a chest crushing pain and all my wee baby sister could do is sit beside him wondering what was happening. Mom returns to find Dad on the floor and bing, bang, boom the rest is history. He survived, but was not in any shape to complete the harvest.
This is where the magic happened. Friends, family and the community of farmers stopped what they were doing and came to our farm to get the last of the grain off of the fields. Maybe this is when I developed my love of the sight of combine dust! So many combines working side by side to get the grain off and safely inside the grain bins.
I will never forget that time in my life. I will never forget the assistance our family received from the community. Small farming communities have a bond unlike anything you could imagine. Maybe that is why I like living in Northeastern British Columbia – we are a little bit city and a little bit rural, bound together by the doctrine of selflessly helping our friends and neighbours.
Judy Kucharuk lives and writes in Dawson Creek.