Fall brings out the fact that I live in farming country.

Harvesting happens everywhere, all the time - combines roaring through the fields by day, silo blowers humming into the night.

If I'm lucky on my morning drive to work, I end up behind a piece of farming equipment or one of those vintage farm trucks that you only ever see in the fall. Then I cuddle down into my sweater and enjoy a leisurely drive. I wonder about the farmer, perched high in the vehicle ahead of me. Is he enjoying the morning as much as I am? Did he get a good crop this year? I have no idea who he is or where he lives, but I feel a warm benevolence toward him because, for a short time at least, we have a kinship - we are both harvesters, caught up in the hurly-burly of a changing year.

Dad would, of course, be able to tell me exactly who the farmer is. Dad would know where he lives, and where his family lives. These connections are important in our little farming community. If you don't know a few details about your neighbors (and vice versa), then you are an outsider.

I am an outsider.

But not really, because everyone knows who I am, and I've obviously been here for awhile.

I'm somewhere between 'outsider' and 'one of us', and I think I confuse all of them. Especially Dave-at-the-feed-store.

Dave is a Hector - one of a rather pervasive clan - but I (in common with others) usually refer to him as Dave-at-the-feed-store or Dave-at-the-MFA.

He works at the New Haven MFA (in fact, I sometimes think that Dave is the New Haven MFA), and his duties are twofold: sell feed, discuss crops and the weather. But he doesn't quite know what to do about me. I am a sticky patch in his routine because, while I obviously work outside, I am just as obviously not a 'normal' farmer (I'm not a man, I don't wear a battered baseball cap, and I don't talk about 'rufs' 'Warshington' and 'farty acres'). I don't fit in anywhere, and I think that unsettles him a bit. So I get in and out of the MFA in record time, because Dave conducts our transactions with as little extra chat as possible.

Except one time.

I dropped by the MFA one day after work to pick up some garden seeds. I was filthy. Really, really filthy. Sweaty, muddy, my hair was a mess. 'Lucky it's just the MFA.' I thought as I went in and poked about the dim, cluttered, none-too-clean interior until I found most of what I needed. I asked a few pertinent questions about bush beans, paid, and was ready to leave, when Dave said, "Looks like we might get some rain."

Did mine ears deceive me, or was Dave talking about the weather?

"Yep." I replied. "It'd be nice."

"Don't want too much, though. Bad for the crops."

"No, we certainly don't."

"Well, have a good evening."

"You too." and I left, grinning to myself, and wondering what I had done to merit a remark about the weather.

I finally decided that it was the dirt. Even though I clearly was not a proper farmer, my filth must have been sufficient to cover my glaring inadequacies and induct me to the privileged rank of those with whom Dave-at-the-MFA discusses crops and weather.

But this new rank was not to last.

I was a bit too clean the next time I went in.

I've been demoted.


  1. ahhhhh,
    The other day a lady was unjust to me at Staples and I was furious (injustice can fire my furnace no matter who it is aimed at) furious, thinking thoughts of Divine Justice coming onto a sin-besotted world. But I needed bone meal for my green house so I stopped at the farm store. I went in, found the lady among the Carharts and asked her about bone meal.... but before I even got to her I'd found the center of the universe and P E A C E. Farm Store. My Reality. Dirt. Sweat. The Center of my Universe. Yes, we farmers understand dirt and sweat. I don't know about you but I look for an excuse to wear the badge. Thanks for taking me there.


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