“Knee high by the Fourth of July” punctuated my dad’s conversations with other ball-capped men in the hardware store and the local NAPA, where I tagged along and spun on the vinyl-covered stools at the counter while we waited for the whatever-it-was we were getting to fix the mower or the tractor or the pump at the pond.
I have memories of fireworks too, but it is the conversations about corn that whisper along the edges of my memories, and perhaps it was they who fertilized my own interest in agriculture.
Knee high isn’t even a realistic goal most years. I suspect my husband rolls his eyes (never in front of me) and wonders about my obsession with knees and corn. In the northern part of the state where I grew up, knee high was a more realistic goal than it is here only a few hundred miles south. Here, the corn will be, easily, thigh or neck high by the Fourth. We get tassels a week or two earlier too. We may harvest at the same time, but the growing seasons and the yields are different.
This year, we have corn across from us, and I have been marking its progress. I’m helpless not to.
It has me enchanted with its rolling green vistas, the rustle of the leaves, how tall it is. I remember the last year we had corn planted here on our little six-acre plot, and how I took pictures every week of the field. I remember my husband’s joy as he planted, cultivated, harvested. He would walk out in the field periodically and mark its progress.
Seeing the in the fields next to us reminds us of what we love about country life. It is a daily, growing nudge by God to spend some time looking around before the beauty of the day is gone. In the silence of the corn fields and the rolling gold of the wheat, I remember to spend some silent time with God, even as summer keeps us hopping from one thing to another.
The Fourth of July is often also right up against the wheat harvest. Though we raise neither corn nor wheat, we’re surrounded by both, and in the days of late June, I always find myself wishing I had taken pictures, longing to capture the vivid gold as the wheat fields transform.
The wheat field itself, filled with a color that Crayola has never quite been able to capture to my satisfaction, reminds me of what the Fourth of July is all about. I remember Grandma mentioning it once, one summer when there was wheat across from her old farmhouse and we kids were visiting for a week or two. There’s a point, she said, when the wheat fields are just that certain shade of yellow-gold, and it just makes you feel…something different than you felt before.
Seeing that expanse of rippling wheat and the corn that’s towering above my knees makes me think about all we have here, in the United States. They’re the epitome of the great abundance of resources we ignore and the many blessings all around us.
The amber fields and green whispering stalks of corn also remind me of the importance of togetherness, of just how critical it is that our many different opinions remain true to who we are and who we were founded to be. One weed ruins the picture of gold (though you don’t often see wheat fields with weeds, thanks to the wonders of modern chemicals).
As the stalks of wheat and corn ripple with the wind, I see how something that seems insignificant can have an enormous impact. It reminds me, that field of golden ripple, that stretch of green corn, of how I’m here “just” to do what God put me here to do – if I’m “just” a mother, or “just” a wife, or “just” a faithful friend, then I could be making a big difference, though I may not see it from where I stand, a single stalk in the field of life.