This morning we’re socked in with fog as thick as potato soup. I can’t even see the trees across the driveway. This is what August is–heavy wet mornings that give way to sunny, hot afternoons.
For several summers beginning with my twelfth or thirteenth year, I barned tobacco and grew my bank account. I worked on two different kinds of harvester. The first kind bridged the gap between the old timey stringing the tobacco on stick under the shelter of a tobacco barn and stringing the tobacco on sticks on a moving harvester. I strung the leaves in this operation.
The other kind was a two-story machine with croppers breaking off the leaves of the stalks on the bottom level and sending them by way of a vertical conveyor belt to a basket that collected the leaves on the top level. I cropped the leaves on this operation.
The leaves in August, dripping with thick fog and dew, drenched gloves and sleeves and pants and shoes before we made it half way down the row. By mid-morning and the time for a Mountain Dew or Pepsi and a pack of orange crackers that we called Nabs, our fingers would be shriveled just like we’d been swimming for the past three hours.
Now, when my window shows me mornings draped with heavy moisture, I can’t help but remember those long ago mornings in the tobacco fields. I’m grateful for the time I had there with the people who accompanied me and the lessons I learned about hard work. I’m grateful also that I get to sit at a typewriter and watch the fog and remember.