On July 4, I rode to McPherson for the annual Smith Family Explodapalooza. I wanted to make a good ride of it, so I went through Hesston via Dutch Avenue, then up Old Highway 81 into McPherson.

On the way, I saw this field of wheat stubble, and I stopped. It wasn’t too long ago that I rode this same route, and the wheat was tall, but not yet mature. A while before that, it was a vibrant green and barely out of the ground. Before that, it was a field of dirt.

I don’t write poetry much because I don’t like it, and I don’t think I’m good at it, but this field made me want to write a poem. But I’m no good at poetry, so  I’ll just write this instead.


I remember this field where today only waste remains. I’ve driven by it a number of times on my way to somewhere else.

Last fall it was brown and empty, but the earth covered the seeds of what would one day come.

In the spring, this wheat was young. It was green. And its future was undecided.

If it rained enough, if the sun shined just right, it would grow and mature and produce a head full of seed that could be harvested and made into something more than a plant in a field. Provided, of course, the violence of Kansas’ weather didn’t beat it down, bend it, break it or destroy it. 

In the early summer, this field of wheat stood tall, and it waved at me as I rode by. It was full. It was rich, and it wasn’t quite done.

Today, it has been shorn; its work taken elsewhere and used for another’s benefit. The dry golden stubble is all that’s left. It has lived its life, and became all it was ever meant to be.

But it is not over. I know what comes next: The plow.

It will drive its chisel into the soil, and it will cut and tear. The plow’s work will rearrange the soil, the break the old and make way for a new crop, and a new year. 

The soil will shred and open itself. The roots from the previous year will loosen their hold, give up their grip on last year’s growth, and become part of the earth.

And while the plow is violent and destructive, without it, this field goes fallow. The weeds and wild will consume it.

After the plow has done its work, this field I’ve ridden past so many times will once again be empty and brown, with new seeds beneath its surface.

And with rain and sunlight, they will grow, too.

So there’s that.

Saturday’s ride was really, really nice. I  had a fairly stiff crosswind for much of the ride, but once I got to Hesston and headed north, the wind was at my back. The route was 54 miles in all, and most of it was flat. I stopped in Hesston to eat a granola bar and take a break, then landed in McPherson about 1:15 p.m. The road was smooth, except for a couple of sketchy miles around Elyria.

barn Mrs. Probst creek2

Erica, Jarrod and Lila came up to watch the show. Turns out even 8-month old Lila is a fan of fireworks. She comes by it pretty naturally, though. It was nice to see everyone there, eating and having fun. The kids really got into the fireworks this year, which is always great to see. I remember when Tim’s mom, Susan, held Owen in the garage as a baby. I remember when he climbed on my lap and hid from the explosions. Now, you’d never know that he wasn’t born with a firecracker in his hand.

Erica Lila family

Owen fireworks kids

3 thoughts on “Harvested

  1. As I’m riding the countryside now, I can’t get enough of the “woody” smell of wheat stubble. It takes me back to my youth and my dad’s farming heritage. It’s almost sweet in its naturalness. I’m so glad you wrote this. I understand the need to document the feeling–like the feeling must be recorded. Poetry or not, it’s nice. Thanks for sharing.

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