Yesterday afternoon I was washing windows when I heard the sound of a harvester in the field across from us. At first I never know where the sound is coming from - near or far - and then a monstrosity will pass the house, dust lifting in all directions and the puzzle will be solved.
There is a sadness that comes with it: another growing season ended. This is also the season of insects ... ladybugs, stink bugs, cluster flies. It is a mad dash now before the weather turns cold ... harvest! hide!
But it also a time of completion, the taking in of these great loads of beans and grains. And the mechanical monsters that thread these fields give me hope for the future of mankind. It is a stretch of the imagination that the tiny soybean can be separated from stalk by clanking metal. And yet they gather in great loads, un-mashed, lifted into waiting trucks.
Last evening, as the sun was setting, D R Coffman moved his harvester from the field east of us to the one south. Here he is on the beginning row. How wide the mouth of this machine! It voraciously swallows many rows of plants in a single swath, throwing the chopped plants back onto the soil, collecting the soybeans for later.
Luckily there is no wind. The dust settles quickly, falling back to the ground without covering my newly-washed windows in fresh dust.
The first few corners are a challenge and yet D R has done this for so many years that he seems to simply drive without thinking. Everything he does is with a fluid motion.
South of the harvester sits a bin which he'll fill again and again. Later, after dark, he parked the harvester and all was quiet. I'd have expected him to keep going through the night but, with rain still days away, I suppose there is no hurry. It is now 9:30 am the next morning and the equipment hasn't moved. I'm sure D R is catching up on some rest before beginning again.
Later today I suspect it will be done ... the fields newly leveled and our view expanded in three directions. Another sixty days and the ground will be white and this will be no more than a memory. The beans, I guess, will be in China, or turned to oil or to feed.
Next spring we will have corn in all directions. That is my favorite, a natural privacy wall that surrounds us as it grows. That is what I look forward to.