Nope, I’m not a farm-girl at heart, nor am I a fan of loud, jarring, noises. I don’t like motorcycles or jack-breaks, or smoothie-machines. I am, however incongruously, a big fan of the enormous combines that are taking over my little corner of the world at this time of year.
I don’t know why I love them. If I was a logical, predictable person, I wouldn’t like them at all, loud, dirty, rumbling things that they are. But out here, where I have no neighbors within shouting distance and the corn fields aren’t much for conversation, I get a huge kick out of the gi-normous green combines.
True, they’re not all green John Deere varieties, some are red International Harvesters, or yellow New Hollands or gray Gleaners. (Yes, I’ve lived here long enough to learn a few things! Though, in the interests of complete honesty, it was my husband who remembered the Gleaner!) But the majority of them are green and yellow and sport a black buck sticker somewhere about their hoods. Around here, yellow and green doesn’t just mean the Green Bay Packers, or, even better, the University of Oregon, it mostly means what kind of farm machinery you believe in!)
The thing, actually, that is the weirdest reason for me liking them is that they remind me of the army tanks I used to see in Berlin. I came up, one day, out of the U-Bahn station, expecting to cross the street uneventfully to the base, but instead came face to face (and ear to ear) with a convoy of tanks rumbling past me and blocking my route. I had no choice, really, but to stand there, hands over my ears, as tank after tank roared past. I. Hated. It.
It wasn’t just the noise, nor was it the inconvenience as I waited for a LONG time for them to go by; it was the meaning of it all. It was the images that flashed through my mind of just, exactly, what these things were for. It was living there, in Berlin, the war-destroyed city, where the tallest hill is made of rubble from the war. Imagine! A hill made of destroyed buildings and bombed churches and lost homes. That is what tanks like these (or at least their predecessors) rumbling past me had done.
And yet, as I stood there, tears pricking at my eyes and my ears blasted by roaring engines and creaking tracks, I knew that without those tanks, a terrible man would have been free to murder and destroy and tear his country apart. I was terrified of what those tanks represented; and terrified of what would have happened without them.
But here I’ve done it again. I meant to write about combines! About the dust that rises behind them and fills your nostrils with brown-tinged snot. About the two times of year – planting and harvest – when I have neighbors to spy on. About the thrill of seeing them come up over the gentle hills at night, their headlights rising like the sun over the waving corn. About the way the kids love to glean any stray soy beans, popping their dry pods to reveal the small, tan beans – so gourmet, so hip.