Our Favorite Farmers

November 26, 2009 | 20 comments

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and the corn still stands in fields. My favorite farmer hopes to glean the rest by December, before the snow flies.

And when fear rises in me, I’m reminded:

I’m not the first Lee woman to look through the kitchen window to watch a Lee man working acres late in the season. I’m not the first Lee woman to quietly remind her children, as she tucks them in, to pray for their Daddy when storm-clouds roll in. I’m not the first Lee woman to link hands with her favorite farmer at this wooden table, to offer praise and Thanksgiving for the bounty.

The harvest has always come.

***

These are the women who’ve come before: Emma, Eunice and Joyce.

I’m the newest to be grafted in by marriage. Each of us had our favorite farmers who worked this same dirt: Ole and Milo, Paul and Scott.

Today, only Scott is left. And we don’t know if another will come behind. Looking out the windows on these partially shorn acres, I wonder: “Who will tend these fields when we’re gone?”

I dial Eunice, 95, and she answers the phone after the fifth ring. She lives in an assisted-living apartment now. Her husband Milo died four years ago, and last week, he would have turned 100 years old. (She celebrated with fresh flowers on the altar.) Milo was the second of the Lee men who turned this Earth, unearthed its bounty.

I ask Eunice, Could we drive up to visit on Friday morning? Then, the conversation immediately turns to weather and crops. For this is what farm wives do.

“How’s Scott doing?” she asks of her grandson. He’s the patriarch of this farm now, and this is his first harvest without his father, Paul, who died in January.

“Fine, Grandma, but we’ve got a lot of acres to go,” I tell her. “Gotta get it out before it snows.”

“I know how you feel,” she says, and as she speaks the fear in me dissolves again. “Now, we always wanted to get all the corn out by Thanksgiving, but you don’t worry. It will all work out. Always does.”

I cling to a voice of reassurance that comes from a Lee woman who watched her own favorite farmer bring in the crop for decades.

The harvest has always come.

***

Solace flows from voices past. I find another voice in the bottom of a dresser drawer.

Her words were on a postcard, written on Nov. 26, 1912 — exactly 97 years ago today.

The voice belongs to Emma, our pioneer. She knew first what I feel now. She was an American girl who fell in love with Ole, a young man who’d come to Iowa from Norway looking for work. He settled on this farm more than 100 years ago. And together, they raised kids and crops and eyes toward Home.

We found her words last month in a drawer. They were written on the back of a Thanksgiving postcard.

I hold in my hands these words written 97 harvests ago, and a lump rises in my throat again. Emma knew what it meant to feel this swelling in a heart for a Lee man who scrapes back Earth to scatter the seed.


Emma wrote:

“Nov. 26, 1912
how are you
We are all well
have about 3 days corn picking left.
… got much corn this year
Baby is a big girl now
Thanksgiving we are going to Le Hemmes for dinner.
— Emma”


Ole was Emma’s favorite farmer.
Milo was Eunice’s favorite farmer.
Paul was Joyce’s favorite farmer.
And Scott is mine.

They’ve combed through lazy Earth
scattered seed
and waited on the Lord
while a Lee woman
watched through a kitchen window.

God and Earth are our constants
in this changing of the guard
from farmer
to farmer
to farmer
to farmer.

God is our hope that springs eternal here on these acres.

We know our farmers feel closest to God out there, as they paint brush strokes on God’s earthen canvas. And we feel it, too, like we’re brushing up against Heaven.

And for this, we bow low with thanks on this day of Thanksgiving and Praise.

For the harvest has always come.



Written as part of the High Calling Blogs Thanksgiving celebration.

PHOTOS: Front and back of Emma Lee’s Thanksgiving postcard, written 97 years ago today.

by | November 26, 2009 | 20 comments

20 Comments

  1. L.L. Barkat

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jennifer. Your words… beautiful this day.

    Reply
  2. KEE

    Blessed once again by your beautiful words and goose bumps traveled down my arms as I read this.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving my friend.
    Kee

    Reply
  3. Fairy Footprints

    Happy Thanksgiving what darling pictures.

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season.

    ♥´¨)¸.+´¸.•*´¨)¸.+*´¨)
    (¸.•´ (¸.+´♥♥¸.+´
    ¸.•*´¨)¸.+*´¨)
    (¸.•´ (¸.+´♥ Heidi ♥)

    Reply
  4. mom2six

    "brushing up against Heaven"…with thanksgiving and praise to the One who brings the harvest! He is faithful.

    Reply
  5. Glynn

    I wrote about it but you and Scott live it. It's great, Jennifer.

    Reply
  6. Denise @ A Sacred Longing

    We all in our fear should be reminded that we are not the first to walk this path. What a gift to have this heritage in such tangible way – phone calls and post cards. Cherish them well.

    Let us be thankful together for those who have stepped before us and who, even in their absence, remind us we are never alone.

    Shalom,
    Denise

    Reply
  7. Carey

    What a special treasure, that postcard. Wonderful post, Jennifer. Was reminded by someone else today, from a past generation, that years ago they hoped the harvest was in by Thanksgiving, but it might not be. Comforted by that.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!!

    Reply
  8. Lyla Lindquist

    A one-cent stamp, hand-cancelled at Inwood, on a postcard addressed simply to a loved one in a small town in S. Dak.

    Could Emma have known how her words, found in a drawer, would encourage some 97 years later?

    Imagine where these words of yours now might land some 10, 20, 97 years from today.

    God's blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving day.

    Reply
  9. Laura

    What a beautiful Thanksgiving blessing. Hope yours was sweet.

    Reply
  10. Jennifer

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jennifer. God is faithful across the generations. What a treasure to find in a drawer.

    Reply
  11. Doug Spurling

    John 12:24
    Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

    Keep Planting… the harvest always comes. God gives the increase 1 Cor. 3:7

    Keep planting

    Reply
  12. Shirley

    What a beautiful post expressing so much love!

    Reply
  13. Graceful

    I think this is my favorite post of yours so far — it's absolutely beatiful. Even though I don't have a farmer man in my life (an English professor, not exactly the same!), living in Nebraska has helped me appreciate all that our famers and their families do for America and the world. Thank you to you and Scott!

    Reply
  14. Arianne

    Lovely post Jennifer….made me think about my family of farmers too, how I'm not the first either! Blessings to you and yours. Will pray for your harvest!!

    Reply
  15. ~*Michelle*~

    Popping in late, but still want to wish you and your family a beautiful time of Thanksgiving these days.

    What a blessing to read this story….filled with such history, hope and Truth!

    Reply
  16. Karen

    Such a beautiful history of love and faith…thanks for sharing these memories!

    Reply
  17. Andrea

    Thank you for your comment on Arise 2 Write and your prayers. I have come to a place where I know "storming the heavens is the ONLY answer."
    I have joined to follow your blog and look forward to getting to know you better.
    Blessings and prayers, andrea

    Reply
  18. Fairy Footprints

    »-(¯`v´¯)-»Thanks 4 visiting»-(¯`v´¯)-»Heidi»-(¯`v´¯)-»

    Reply
  19. Joye @ The Joyeful Journey

    As always, this is beautiful! And what a wonderful tribute to your favorite farmer–and our country's backbone! I love the postcard and the history you were privileged to hold in your hand and in your heart this season!

    Reply
  20. Stacie, A Firefighter's Wife

    What a wonderful legacy you have inherited! Thank you for sharing. What a great post! I was raised on a wheat and cattle ranch in the Northwest and I loved it!

    Reply

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