Tennessee Mountain Stories

Harvest Season

The picture leading this blog is from our church bulletin last week.  Don’t those little folders have some of the prettiest pictures?  Well this one is such a familiar scene that it got me to thinking about the memories of the season.

There’s something heady about the harvest season.  The air is cooling (cooling slowly this year), the leaves are hinting at the autumn-brilliance they’ll soon wear and the work of summer is drawing to a close.  Of course the work on a farm never ends and there are certainly hardships in winter.  But we don’t think about those things in the fall.  Instead, we can look at clipped fields and barns bulging with winter stores.  We see the garden turned and waiting for a little grass cover for the winter.  The can house is filled, kids are back in school and it’s simply time to take a deep breath.  All of this is a beautiful picture of God’s blessings.  Even in droughts or floods, when it’s too hot or too cool, when the bugs eat more than their share or disease hits the crops, God blesses us. 

Some things never change.

I think our forefathers more keenly felt this reliance on the land – and on God.  Of course, from way back in Bible times people have been getting the idea that they can manage on their own and don’t really need God.  Every one of those ideas ended badly of course.  It seems to me that it’s getting easier to make that mistake these days.  Now we think we can get a public job and buy our groceries from the store if the crops don’t do too well.  Food does seem to magically appear on the shelves, doesn’t it? 

In 1906 Alfred Henry Lewis said, "There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy."  There's a whole prepper movement afoot today that would probably agree with him, citing that in most homes all the food they have in the house would maybe last nine meals.  Can you imagine what your grandmothers would have said to that statistic?  It would not have been kind!

Barring years of very severe weather and long economic hardship, most mountain farms could go months without a trip to the grocery store.  In fact, many never expected to visit a store more than once a month.  And those visits only brought home coffee, a little sugar and maybe a treat for the kids along with a few dry goods.  Of course, you might have to take a turn of corn to the gristmill, otherwise you’d be eating gritted bread.  And your menu might be a little limited, but don’t most of us eat pretty much the same things all the time anyway? 

For those hard working farmers, if the cow doesn’t go dry, the root cellar doesn’t flood and the barn isn’t hit by lightning then there’ll be something in the pot through the cold months of winter.   Do you think that’s why fall is such a beautiful season?