By: Richard Haydel
The Sun rose in the brilliant blue sky with wisps of white floating off from a sole pillowlike cloud that looked as a ball of cotton. The sun’s rays carried this comforting warmth that penetrated the skin and loosened one’s joints. A gentle breeze tickled his face and the smell; the smell of ripened strawberries, sweet and tangy, permeated the air. The boy stood at the headland looking east upon row upon row of strawberry plants. Their dark green leaves, white flowers, light green buds, along with the luscious gleaming red of the ripened berries seemed to sparkle in contrast to the black plastic covering the rows from which the plants protruded. The ground, dark, loamy, and fertile and the result of generation upon generation of careful usage, conservation, and preservation.
Was this Heaven or a reflection of fondness? His own field of dreams. Remarkable, breathtaking, and yet a prosaic felicity of senses and life. For here past and present, heritage and innovation, come together like no place other. Here his own sweat drips to the same ground that once drank the perspiration of his Dad and that of he and his siblings during years past. The Earth’s thirst is never quenched, but that itself is majestic. Those droplets of salty moisture tickling the callouses on his hands just as it had those of prior generations. The hands, the mind, the soul, of the farmer’s being adorn such badges of honor in the present among pillars of history cherished and never taken for granted.
The work is not easy. The physical labor tolls upon the body beneath the appearance of the inured hands and the uncertainty of mother nature always weighs upon the mind and spirit. The lower back aches at times from the constant stimulation of the lumbar vertebrae. The shoulders pinch at times, and the knees and hips stiffen. Ah, that warmth from the sun’s rays. Nature’s own infrared sauna soothes such complaints to nary a thought that discomfort will prevent what one must do before the sun reaches its apex in the sky. The rising temperature will bring a natural break from working in the open where he will transition to beneath the shade afforded by a tree or a packing shed. A simple structure, often open on three sides with a single unbroken wall beneath an H frame.
To the undiscerning eye, the images appear nondescript, but to his eyes it is a canvas upon which a field of dreams has unfolded in powerful yet subtle brushstrokes. Each day the brush strokes become bolder, color more vibrant, and the air most succulent. Nature can bestow ever so tender a touch between spans of efficacy unchecked. That dichotomy, this is his world, his playground, his berry field, his time to preserve and pass to the coming generation just as the previous had to his and the prior to theirs. A reflection, perhaps, yet a masterpiece of a boy turned man, a farmer, his heritage, tending the soil to coax the sweet fruits from within to emerge, to ripen in the rays of the Sun, and to be pinched at the stem, picked with care, and eaten from a field of dreams.
Lest We Forget, those who have passed are as near as our soul.