Being a farmer, he knew, for example, there's a window of opportunity for planting. To miss that opportunity would effectively shut that window to a successful opportunity. Just a few months earlier and he could have doomed the seeds to a freezing death. Planted a couple of months later and the summer's heat would devour the promise of a new crop.

This day I recall the journal of a farmer at the turn of the last century. The occasion for my looking at this man's papers came during an interview with his grandson, also a farmer.

It was the man's custom to write down what he did at the end of each day. So, out of the front drawer of an antique desk the grandson pulled out a worn, leather book cased in sheath of heavy plastic and showed it to me.

It was the spring of the year, 1900, time for plowing and planting. The farmer was in his 20s at the time. He was already versed in the vernacular of a behind-the-plow view of a mule. He was courting and had been for some time. He was also in the middle of plowing season. It was time to take care of essentials.

“Plowed the back 40,” read the first entry of a day in March 1900. “Went to town, married Linda.”

Right there it was. Alongside the essentials of a man's work was a life-changing event viewed in the same light as an everyday occurrence. The gee and haw of everyday life coupled with that unexplainable mixture of love and beauty.

No doubt this farmer had studied his intended like the soils in his fields or the changing of the seasons. More than 50 years of marriage would vouch for his “living with his wife in an understanding way.”

Being a farmer, he knew, for example, there's a window of opportunity for planting. To miss that opportunity would effectively shut that window to a successful opportunity. Just a few months earlier and he could have doomed the seeds to a freezing death. Planted a couple of months later and the summer's heat would devour the promise of a new crop.

It's interesting how life is full of little markers. The first buds of an apple or peach tree, the appearance of a robin, yellow daffodils, cotton breaking out of the soil. Then, the seasons change to the sweltering humidity of June, July, August and on into September.

It strikes me as I remember reading this old farmer's journal, how he placed plowing a field and getting married on the same page. He was likely planting by the signs.

I can hear the conversation around the pot-bellied stove of yesteryear. “So, what did you do today? Well, I finally got that back 40 plowed. And, oh, by the way, me and Linda got married.


e-mail: cecil_yancy@intertec.com