out to watch a bit of the pea harvest the other day. drove down a little lane by an orchard where they were thinning apples to watch the new combines just chugging along in an adjacent field, parked, and sat in the open door of the car munching on peas fresh from vines & pods not harvested by the fence row, my back to the orchard.
waved back to the driver of a truck raising a cloud of dust, hurrying to the combine with the blinking lights to pick up a load of freshly shelled peas. in my day, (yes, you may assume that we are now well past "my day,") swathers came along and cut the vine, and left them in a window row for a few hours, and loaders put them in trucks and we shelled them in (de-)viners at the cannery. now, the big machines lumber along, looking like the war machines in star wars, and vines go in one end and out the other, and the peas are taken from the pods for loading into the trucks.
well, how do it do that, you may ask? pretty simple, really. the little seam on a pea pod? whack the pod smartly in the palm of your hand, and the seam splits, and the peas come spilling out. same thing in the harvester, except the palm of your hand is a paddle inside a rotating drum with holes in it: the peas spill out the holes to be collected, the vines follow gravity out the rear of the drum. pretty simple, really.
talked with the foreman of the crew thinning apples as i left.
he said that his crew was going to start picking cherries the next day.
that afternoon i drove to pendleton to pick up some component bullets for a reloading project. along the way farmers were putting up alfalfa in great bales, about the size of a cord of wood. three or four bales made a pretty good truck load.
past pea fields, some with blooms still on the vines. and, acres & acres & acres & acres of wheat well into the head, some of it starting to brown, the fields turning from a rich emerald green just a week ago to a nice yellow hue at the tops of the heads. pretty soon, seas of yellow and gold, as the berries ripen and dry in the heads, just before harvest.
beeves grazing in the pastures.
and, the various beans and other stuff just popping from the ground, not enough foliage on them yet to cover the soil, the dirt showing the stubble from previous years thanks to the "no till" farming practices farmers have adopted to keep top soil.
apples will come later.
and, of course, the wine grapes are really coming on in the heat after all of the spring moisture.
it is lovely here.
it is lovely because people work hard. ours in the kind of an area where people work out of doors, and they get dirty when it is dry, and wet when it rains, and they come home with soil & oil under their nails, and faces and necks and shoulders and arms dirty, and dust swirls from their clothes when brushed. they drive clapped out old pickup trucks, scarred from collisions of all kinds of improbable objects apparently cleverly hidden from view or detection.
they dress in baseball caps, levis and bibs. not a few have suspenders to keep ample bellies from knocking the pants off their hips. they have big gnarled hands, rough and torn and callused from their labor.
and, if you are a son of a bitch, they will tell you. ego's and nose's get brought up short in these parts, now and again.
we rustics. keeping the bellies full of you sophisticates. sometimes we wonder whether it is worth it, given the way you treat us with your dumb shit politics.
we really don't need you, do you understand that?
let's put the matter squarely.-- just what of any value do you produce by dint of your own labor?
john jay @ 06.22.2012