Hard question

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do you have a favorite field?” she asked.

I shifted my weight, pushed back my cap and glanced west.

To the far left was the “Milton Field.” Picked wild grapes around its edge when I was 12. Cleared the back corner with Dad at 16. Picked up roots forever, it seemed. Grew melons there afterwards.

He always said, “New ground grows good watermelons.”

All I know is it worked the heck out of us. Must have loaded 10,000 one hot July.

Overloaded the trailer once and got the tractor stuck. I told them it was too many!

Watched Uncle Thomas shoot a deer across the back half of that field. Man, he was a good shot. The field had a split personality. Sandy to the left; heavy to the right.

Once wrote a song while disking land there. Right at sunset. Words came natural.

Almost touching it lay the “Long Cut.” A 35-acre stair step. Long, medium and short rows. Watch it across the middle; you’ll get stuck in a minute. It’s a long walk to the house.

Seemed those rows went on forever. It’s like that when you’re young, you know. Picked some good corn off that land. Talking 150 bushels.

Peanuts are risky. Lost half of them one wet fall. The back left corner is where thunderstorms arise. Spent a many a dry summer looking in that direction.

Then there’s the “Club House Field.” Walked through that place a thousand times, heading to the river. Found a perfect tomahawk head there to the right. Didn’t know what I had. Who does at 10?

There in the corner, on that Beech tree, Uncle John carved a heart to his sweetheart. “JA + NSB.” He died years ago.

Camped out under the stars in that back corner. Frosted on the next morn, but it was worth it. A lot of memories for a small field. Only 10 acres, you know.

Go across that dam and you’re in the Boone field. Forty-five acres evenly split by a meandering stream.

That back corner must drop down 30 feet to the river. Good soil. Man, we’ve picked some real peanuts off that land. Up and down and you’re full!

Gotta watch those sandy edges. Don’t want a wash to start. Planted milo one year and dove flew thick as hair. Drops off at the back. You’ll get stuck around that corner after a big rain.

Then there’s the Big Field. One hundred acres in one opening! Driving across makes a man feel small. Kind of puts him in his place. Land will do that, you know. Watched a many a sun drop out of sight across that piece. Seems to mesh with the sky in late October.

Favorite Field? I glanced at her.

“No,” I replied.