It’s one of the final rites of summer for us–Ag Progress Days in Central Pennsylvania. We borrow a van and sometimes take two vehicles to haul as many grandkids as we can from our small city to a celebration of the farm life that surrounds us and feeds us.
We had two sets of siblings with us yesterday, the other set grown or already booked with other activities. But the brothers and brother/sister group we had with us this time got along better together than they sometimes tend to do alone. Community builds goodwill.
We started with our usual. Hamburgers and hot dogs at a tent the Methodists sponsor and tend. Then we were off to the Corn Maze.
It’s not just a game, but a multiple-choice quiz about Pennsylvania agriculture. Pick the right answers and get through the maze quickly. Go the wrong way, and your siblings or cousins will beat you to the end.
They went through multiple times–a couple of them going forwards and backward.
Then, we walked past the tractors. Grandpa told them about his first tractor and showed them the very model. Two of the younger ones measured their heights by the tires. That was a moment for pictures.
On the way to Penn State’s Berkey Creamery (another tradition), we drove past a farm where I’d once taken some of the cousins to pick cherries. We had ice cream that day too.
But much is changing now. The apple orchard is overgrown, and a sign announces a coming housing development. Yet another one as the farm landscape shrinks further.
Birds are gathering sooner this year. Watching them wind their way over us as the flock shifts shape is one of my favorite features of fall.
Our traditions remain the same. Nature follows a pattern. But society changes to move further away from the land.
We live on a half-lot in our city. Farming to us is cutting the grass, occasionally growing tomatoes, and tending a row of black raspberry bushes.
The harvest is our nod to a way of life that taught hard work and diligence despite hardship. A way of life that brought society beyond subsistence to prosperity and freedom.
A way of life that still brings satisfaction in one’s own work.
We journey to you-pick farms and Ag Progress to impress upon those who come after us that the hard work way is good.
That planting a seed means harvesting a crop–after time, after storms, after work.
On such ideas, life grows abundant.