I went out yesterday to take pictures of peanut fields, a cotton field and goldenrods blooming by the old silo off Highway 112. I enjoyed the escapade much more than the pictures will show. They can’t convey the surprise I encountered when two different people stopped to see if I were having trouble. One was the owner, I guess, of the cotton field I was trying to capture in my camera. He offered to take me in his truck for a closer view but I declined. The other was a sheriff’s deputy who looked unconvinced when I told him I was fine. Maybe I shouldn’t have left the hazard blinker on when I parked beside the road. My pictures will certainly not give off the nutty, earthy scents I breathed in nor will they capture my fear when I realized I was wading calf deep in thick grass where a rattlesnake could be coiled.
My tour of Grady County’s peanut harvest included a view of large trailers piled high with peanuts, fields generously populated with huge bales of peanut hay looking deliciously like great loaves of bread, meeting a combine in the road and being glad he moved over to give me space. Overall, I felt energized myself from feeling the intensity of the farmers working to get their crops in ahead of the rain.
We had a real nice taste of the new crop earlier this week. I stepped out to get the mail one afternoon and waved to Ronnie Whitfield as he zoomed past. Then he backed up in his jeep and called out, “Do you like peanuts?” In the back of his jeep were three crates full of peanuts already picked off the vines. He gave me about three gallons which we soaked overnight, then boiled, covered in water, with a cup of salt for five or six hours. Oh, my! did the house smell good that day! And the peanuts are wonderful, addictive, so good! How nice to have a neighbor like that!
To extol the peanut for only a line or two–how could I have raised my children without PBJ sandwiches? How could we have a party without salted peanuts? How would the South have recovered from the boll weevil without alternative crops like peanuts and soy beans? Thanks for your part, Mr. George Washington Carver!
And then there’s the cotton crop. Because we did recover from the boll weevil and learn how to make sure he leaves the beautiful bolls alone. For years there were fields of tobacco, corn, soy beans but no cotton. Now the beautiful white fields stretch towards the tree line. The cotton is not delicious like peanuts, but so soft in flannel, sturdy in jeans, so adaptable a fabric. And so beautiful growing. After defoliation the fields are really “white unto harvest.” I saw a field yet untouched, one in progress of harvesting, and one where the fantastic huge bales of cotton as big as a house stood ready for transport. How do they make those bales so neat and tight?
Charles remembers picking cotton, neighbors helping each other out during harvest. My mother talked about what it was like when she was a girl growing up in North Georgia, how hard they worked during cotton picking time. She said the rows stretched forever and she thought she’d never get the required pounds in her bag. Yet, she said, there was the fun of singing, telling tall tales, teasing and laughing with her brothers. That man I saw in the combine was all alone. I guess he had a radio for entertainment. I did wave to him after I took his picture, in case he needed a little encouragement!
All along the fence rows and in forgotten patches goldenrods bloom profusely with some morning glories and asters mixed in. The sky was, in itself, reflecting glory to God the day I was cruising the harvest. Now as I write a gentle rain is pattering down and the sky is a mixture of puffy grays. I wonder if the crops are safe.
Peanuts, cotton and goldenrods–food, fabric, and beauty. And neighbors who come by to share peanuts! And folks who are concerned when they see a silver-haired woman out tramping around in the weeds!
This is a wonderful place to live.
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Psalms 98:4 (KJV)