by Sherry Stocking Kline
March 17, 2011
Many of my childhood sounds still surround me.
I grew up on a wheat and dairy farm in south central Kansas and I’ve not moved so very far from where I grew up, so the turtle dove that sings in the evening near my city home reminds me of nightfall on the farm.
When I visit friends or family in the country I hear bobwhite quail calling their mates, cattle lowing as they crop the grass, and occasionally the mournful midnight howl of a coyote.
We actually have fox, deer, and coyotes that roam in our little area of our small city at night, especially near the creek that runs through town. Wander around near my neighborhood after midnight, and you may spot a deer family grazing in someone’s yard or a fox or coyote hurrying to get out of the headlights of your car.
In the spring, summer, and fall in the country you can hear the sounds of tractors running in the fields, and see the dust they stir up blowing in the wind. It reminds me of when I used to ride on the fender of the tractor with either Mom or Dad while they worked in the field, or when I ran barefoot in the furrow behind the plow with our collie dog, Lassie.
In June and July, if you drive by Kansas wheat fields with their golden stalks blowing in the south wind, you can hear the sounds of wheat harvest: combines running and spewing out the spent stalks from the back and trucks traveling in low gear to get out of the field as they hurry to deliver the grain to the nearby elevators.
It reminds me of hot, sweaty, but fun days riding the combines first with my daddy, then with my brothers, and later my husband as they kept an eye on the clouds, worried about the weather, and hurried to get the wheat cut before the rain or hail came.
It brings back memories of the field picnics we had, much like today’s tailgate parties, with sandwiches and potato chips on paper plates and trying to catch the potato chips that were blowing off your plate. Nothing tasted as good as the cold iced tea from the gallon field jug and no picnic was as much fun as eating in the field when the men stopped for a few minutes to eat, talk about the harvest, eye the clouds for rain, and predict the yields before climbing back on the combines and cutting late into the night.
At night, the combine’s lights shine on the golden stalks as the reel pulls each one hungrily, whooosh, whooosh, whoossssshhhhhh into the combine’s auger and then threshes out the grain and dumps it into the bin behind the driver.
I loved to ride the combines, especially at night, when the heat of the day was gone and the breeze combed your hair with its fingers and cooled your skin with its touch.
And the wheat beards whispered secrets in the wind.