After slathering a slice of Mom’s homemade bread with butter, I lifted a freshly poached egg out of its pan and dropped it in the middle of the bread’s buttery field. Poking the egg made thick, yellow yolk ooze out. Sighing with satisfaction at having such a delicious breakfast, I lifted the bread and took a bite.
Some of the yellow yolk dribbled down my chin and landed on my top. Trying to scoop-up the runaway drop with my fingertip made it smear. I guiltily wondered where Mom was, then as I passed the basement door on my way out of the farmhouse’s back door, I remembered. I heard the chug-chug of the wringer washing machine. It was Monday, so Mom was washing clothes, of course.
Popping the last of the egg and bread into my mouth, I headed toward the barn. During my summer vacation from school, my daily routine was visiting several spots on the farm, riding my bike, visiting my neighborhood cousins and reading or re-reading our extensive collection of Dell Comic books. While a boring routine, I preferred it over attending school. I stopped at the well pump to run cold water over my arms. Although early, the day was already hot.
Adolph the milk man had parked his truck next to the milk house. I heard him talking to Daddy. Walking around to the back of the large vehicle, I watched as Adolph lifted a full milk can up into the truck as if it was light as air. He closed the cargo door and said, “I better get going.”
Daddy spotted me and asked, “Do you want to go for a ride into town? I’m going in for supplies.” Moments later after letting Mom know, Daddy, my brother Billy and I drove past our neighbor’s oat field. I was horrified to notice the grain was turning golden, meaning that summer was coming to an end. I would soon have to go back to school!
Billy noticed the ripening grain also. Being ten years older than me and no longer in school, he teased, “Summer is coming to an end. You’re going back to school pretty soon.” I gave him the dirtiest look I could muster.
After dinner that afternoon, I rode my bike to visit my neighborhood cousins. I unhappily confided to them, “The oat fields are turning. Our summer is almost over.”
Not at all unhappy about the prospect of returning to school, Alice excitedly announced, “That means we’ll be going shopping soon for school supplies!”
Barb smiled as she pointed out, “It’ll be nice seeing our school friends again.”
Before I could plug my ears with my fingers, I heard Donna stoutly proclaim, “I’m ready to go back to school.”
I wondered, “What’s wrong with my cousins?”
Before long all the oat fields around our farm were completely golden in color. Only one man in our neighborhood had a combine to harvest these fields. Mark and a crew of workers went from farm to farm. On the day they came to our farm, Mom began cooking and baking early in the day. All afternoon the combine filled wagons with the dusty grain. The work crew used a blower to shoot oat seeds into the empty rooms of our old farmhouse, now used as a granary.
When it was time for supper, Mark and the men working with him came into the house to eat. We provided bottles of Marshfield beer to wash oat dust from their throats. From my hiding spot in the living room, I listened to the men talk and laugh as they ate. I loved the sound of Mark’s good-natured laugh.
School started shortly after the harvest was over just as it always did. The first few days were hard. I had a new teacher, a new place to sit, different kids in my class and harder books. But to my surprise, after the ‘starting something new’ jitters wore off, school wasn’t so bad after all!