The maple blushes in the front yard, and maybe it’s because everything is undressing here.
The twelve ash lining our country line have dropped their undergarments. The poplar in the windbreak wear only leafy berets.
And every field-acre of Lee land has been stripped naked, leaving golden stubble and stray grain for wandering wildlife.
The 120th harvest on this family farm in northwest Iowa is over.
And in this stripping away, our hearts are laid bare, too. They beat with joy, gratitude, perennial hope in the dying and in new life to come, and in the starting-over-again.
I hear the end-of-harvest news over the cell phone from my favorite farmer. Gravel crunches underfoot in Scott’s autumn recessional from combine to pickup truck.
“Took the last wagon to town a half hour ago,” he says, and I hear relief in his voice. “We. Are. DONE!”
This is my “God’s-Got-It” man. It’s the same voice I heard last year, when snow frosted early-fall fields lined with crops. It’s the same voice — steely, determined — that promised we’d harvest no matter what. (Because God always brings a harvest at the proper time.)
It’s a voice that reminds me of his father’s, who last harvested these fields two years ago between chemo treatments. I picture my father-in-law now, kicking off dusty work boots and stepping through the creaking back door in the white farmhouse where he was born, grew up and later raised his three children.
His father was all business on the combine. But in moments like these, he would simply cut loose, all spirited under that John Deere cap. He’d ball his fists by his hips and do this jaunty farmer jig that made us laugh full and long. “Heeeeeeey, Jenny,” he’d say playfully. (He’s the only one who ever, ever called me Jenny.)
This is the voice I hear on the other end of the phone — the voice of a father inside of his farmer-son. It’s a voice that resonates with consistency, dependability, trust … and buoyant celebration.
And I think I want to dance, too.
For the harvest is done. Our joy is complete.
For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
— Deuteronomy 16:15
Did You Know:
* Each Iowa farmer produces enough food to feed about 155 people worldwide, making them among the most efficient producers in history. This compares to 73 people in 1970.
* Fewer than five percent of Iowans farm, and the average person is three generations removed from farming.
* Grain is used to feed livestock and make fuel called ethanol.
* The Iowa Farm Bureau reports: “If you took everything out of your life that was made using agricultural products grown in Iowa, you might find yourself in your birthday suit and may be doing a lot of walking.” Iowa ag commodities are used to make a variety of products including toilet seats, candles, ink, pet shampoo, textiles, paints, fuel and more.
(All data provided by the Iowa Farm Bureau.)