The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 25, 2014

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All’s well here

It's harvest time again and, as I watch the trucks rumbling by and see the diggers and crossovers moving up and down the fields, my mind returns to an event that happened many years ago.

It was harvest season and school was out for two weeks. Everyone had lots to do. We were loading hay into the loft of our barn when the message came. The Paul family had been in an accident. Mrs. Paul and the children had been visiting relatives out of town when the accident occurred. Many of the family were in critical condition.

Mr. Paul dropped everything and headed to the hospital where they were taken, asking us if we could feed his cattle while he was gone. We wondered if there wasn't more we could do. Dad said he would handle our chores if I wanted to go. We knew they still had potatoes to dig, as well as some late season hay that was sitting in the field. We didn't have potato equipment, but I could work hay.

I loaded our hay piler onto our truck and headed on my way, not knowing who I would get to drive for me. I needn't have worried. As I pulled onto the Paul farm, cars were coming from every direction. Down the road rumbled potato diggers, trucks, and every other imaginable piece of equipment.

A man who was a real estate agent volunteered to drive as I stacked the bales coming up the side of the truck. Other trucks poured onto the field, and, shortly after dark, the hay was all safely in the barn. A group of men helped me feed the cows before we retired for the night.

Back early the next day at dawn to take care of the animals, again I was not alone.

I directed a whole crew with regard to Mr. Paul's instructions on the feeding. After the sun warmed the air enough, the half dozen or so diggers started again to roll through the fields. I took the job of forking away the debris piling up along the edges of the conveyor belt in one cellar. When I would finish I would take my place picking through the potatoes.

Standing by me on one side was a banker, on the other side was a school teacher. There were men from the sawmill, businessmen, secretaries, and people from every walk of life, as well as fellow teenagers. There were so many people and so much equipment that the biggest problem was trying to keep out of each others' way. In fact, the potatoes were outpacing the cellars' capacity to store them and some diggers were sent on to other jobs.

The variety of personalities in the cellar made for interesting stories. Some of the characters there were rough and some were highly refined, but I learned that each person's heart was much the same. Some didn't even know the Pauls, but came to help, overcome by thought of what it would feel like if the tragedy was their own.

In short order the harvest was in and the machinery moved back to the farms from where it had come. Farmers who had brought it still had to harvest their own fields, for they had chosen to help a neighbor first.

It was late at night, while our small group was finishing the feeding, when the lights from a car turned into the driveway. Mr. Paul emerged and approached us to thank us for our work.

"How's the family?" someone asked.

Mr. Paul looked down in discouragement. "Not well, but some other relatives came so I could come home and try to get the harvest in."

Another member of our group put his hand on Mr. Paul's shoulder. "Perhaps you should look in the cellar."

As Mr. Paul stepped into the cellar and flipped the switch, shining the lights on the huge mounds of potatoes, this tough man with work roughened hands started to sob.

The kind neighbor again put his hand on his shoulder. "You go back to your family. All's well here."

Now, more than a quarter century later, I still see these selfless acts of kindness occurring; and as long as I do, I know those words, embedded deep in my heart, will still echo true. "All's well here."

Tagged: Along these Lines, harvest fair