The Harvest

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.

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