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Reading the news of Farmer Bob’s current condition in our crop share email newsletter this morning made my stomach sink. We were headed to the farm in a few hours and my heart was breaking for this man we hardly knew, but who had left an impact on us last summer. I never realized he was sick. You’d never know from his smile. Maybe he didn’t know back then.
How could this happen to such a sweet, kind man? Cancer is so unfair.
I packed up some graham crackers and raisins in snack baggies and dropped them into a lunch sack with two juice boxes for the drive out to the country, our weekly trip to pick up our CSA box of fresh fruits and veggies. We had a cloudy day with the softest sprinkles of rain coming down, so I knew we wouldn’t stay for our usual picnic lunch. Just a quick trip this week.
Pulling up to the parking lot near the general store, I took a spot near the side door, to make it easier for loading up our box and the kids before leaving. We checked in and got our containers, then hopped on the tractor for the ride out to the fields where the shelling peas were waiting to be plucked from their vines.
“Everyone sitting?” called the driver before heading out of the lot. There were a few agreeable replies and he got going. It was as if everyone had the same heavy thoughts of what Farmer Bob is going through on their minds.
The little girl beside us clung to the wooden railing of the trailer as we lurched forward to get going. Normally we’d be chatting casually with the other riders, but no one was talking because everyone knew. My little man rode with a smile on his face, while Vivian began to cry out a tantrum because she had left her lovie and pacifier in the car. I whispered in her ear about the peas we’d be picking at an attempt to settle her down.
It worked, and before we knew it we were slowing to a stop beside the most gorgeous rows of English peas. They were easy picking, and my baby girl made an impromptu snack of four or five pods before the next tractor rolled up to take us to the blueberry bushes.
“I yike peas, Mommy! They’re yummy!” she proclaimed while chomping on another pod. Owen wasn’t as enthusiastic about the green gems.
The farmers who drive the tractors this year are very nice, and I’m sure in time we’ll get to know them. But no one could ever replace Farmer Bob. His faded blue jeans and tee shirt held up by the navy blue suspenders, brown work boots and his favorite baseball cap that he wore even on the hottest of days. There would usually be a handkerchief sticking out of his back pocket so he’d have something to wipe the sweat off his brow when the afternoon sun started beating down.
His best accessory though, was the warm smile he greeted us with each and every time he pulled the tractor around to pick people up. He always offered to help me load up the stroller onto the trailer, and before I could object, he had lifted it for me. Upon arriving at the picking location, he gave us tips and tricks for finding the best of the crop. And he never forgot to tell us to “have fun” as we stepped off the over-sized wagon.
The farm will forever be fun, but it will never be the same without Farmer Bob.
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