Growing up in rural Iowa, the harvest was always an intense and busy time. Tractors constantly moved through the fields, and it was not unusual to catch sight of the lights of a tractor shining over the dirt clouds raised up by someone working into darkness. Kids missed school to help their families. Crops had to come out before the cold winter days arrived.
Living in D.C. now, I’m pretty removed from that life. Instead of cornfields in the backyard, someone else’s backyard is my backyard and I have to ride about 40 miles in any given direction for a glimpse of the country.
This weekend, the beauty and busyness of the harvest came back to me during Felkerino’s and my ride with the Pennsylvania Randonneurs on the Silver Spring 200K. This brevet spends many miles in Lancaster County, the heart of Amish country.
Amish country is an amazing place to ride. People use a horse and buggy for transportation. Kids ride kickbikes to get places. Lawns are cut with a manual push mower. Horses are instrumental in working the farm.
The corn has grown tall in Lancaster County and people work vigorously to prepare for colder months. There are the normal weekend chores of mowing and feeding livestock, but the crops grown over the past three months are primed to come out. Tobacco is being harvested and dried.
I had never seen tobacco harvested before. I confess it is a beautiful sight to see all those leaves lined up and hung from barn ceilings as the symmetrical wood slats flare out to help the drying process. And the subtly sweet smell wafting from the leaves signals that fall is arriving soon.
I longed to get off the bike and linger in various spots along the way, soaking in the earthy odor and the season, but I knew we would never finish our ride if I started doing that.
Felkerino wrote a summary of our day including a link to our route. As you will see from his story, we enjoyed an ideal day in the companionship of our fellow riders, and traversed a spectacular route.
Thanks to the Pennsylvania Randonneurs Silver Spring 200K, I had a front seat to the harvest for a few glorious hours this past Saturday. I savored every moment.