Strange how Millet’s painting ‘The Gleaners’ enraptures me,
Three plain-clad women hard at work, stooping to gather refuse stalk and seed.
It triggers old memories of a time when I was quite young.
Grandma’s kitchen all a bustle; feed-sack dresses and aprons softly rustle
As grandma, aunts and neighbors’ wives scurry about; mixing, baking, discussing lives.
Wonderful smells of bread, pies and cookies baking
Meat roasting and being sliced for the piles of ham and beef sandwiches in the making
Packed in baskets into a Model-T truck they’re loaded with jugs of lemonade and iced tea
Then to the fields we’re off, grandma, the aunts and me
From wagons drawn by great steel-wheeled tractors men fork shocks of wheat
Into the bellowing thresher’s hungry maw
Straw blows to a stack, grain pours into a wagon’s box.
Noise stops and beneath a great cloud of dust and heat;
Hot, tired and full of thirst a dozen sweaty, dirty men emerge to drink and eat.
A far better life than those painted gleaners led
Grandpa’s harvest workers were at least well-fed.