Finally crossing the finish line

Published 12:38 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

By Rex Alphin

There she is, baby — the last acre to be harvested, the one we’ve been looking for all year. My goodness, it feels good.

It’s like crossing the finish line. We jumped into this race last March and have been running ever since. We’ve been trying to outrun ravenous bugs and fertile worms.

Email newsletter signup

Every time we’ve glanced behind us, there on our heels was a weed about to catch up to us. Seems they came out of the sky, like paratroopers, landing in our fields, where they burrowed down and sprang up at night. Pigweed, lambsquarter, Jimson weed, nutgrass, wiregrass, you name it. Always there, always trying to overtake you.

We ran through droughts, where the dust kicked up in our faces and mocked our prayers for rain. It rolled up corn like cigars, drooped cotton like dog ears and shriveled peanuts into sagebrush.

We ran through life-giving showers and let it hit our faces and run down our necks and drench our clothes as we looked to the heavens with thanks.

We ran through floods that wanted to glue our boots to the soil as we passed mired-up tractors, buried combines, muddy chains and cables, with more rain in the forecast.

We jogged through broken bearings, busted chains, cracked frames, stopped-up air tunnels, twisted PTO shafts, split hydraulic hoses and flat tires.

We ran past wives calling and asking, “What time will you be in for supper?”

Through all that, we were always pushing, always yearning, always straining somewhere in the back of our minds to see the combine rolling over that last acre.

And now we are close. It is within reach. There is the tape, across the finish line, beckoning us to break through.

The last peanut goes in. The last boll of cotton pushes through. The last soybean drops in the truck, and it is finished, done, completed, over as we break through the tape with a final burst of energy and fall to the ground, straining for oxygen, letting nine months of stress seep through our pores and evaporate into the atmosphere.

And now, as we lie there, blissful, exultant, tired and exhausted, we start dreaming of next year.