A harvest of sensations

I wish I could record this darkness. Coyotes singing, dozens of them; all off to the southwest tonight. The Milky Way above so clear it’s three dimensional; rolling waves of stars as though quilted. And the Soo Line train horn blowing, along with the clatter of steel on steel, about a mile away.

The whine of a big diesel engine’s turbocharger and the drone of the combine’s processor clawing its way across the Regina plains, gathering the land’s promise.

And now, a train’s horn has quieted the dogs. Suddenly, I realize the combine is almost too far off to hear well and the only sounds are mice and insects and the light white-noise of rustling poplar leaves, stiff with green of summer’s end, applauding in a light night breeze.

No moon to brighten my half-mile-long walks to a full grain truck as I returned the tractor and fire-safety equipment to the farmyard. The dampness rising should suppress all but a proper combine fire now. No way to even see my feet.

Like in daylight, one navigates the plains by points of reference on the horizon: combines, bin yards, farmyard lights and sound of the gravel under my boots going away, and the brome grass beginning. They keep me on the road back to the annual paycheque, trucks full of grain.

Three-hundred thousand loaves of bread worth in this field alone. It might take 900,000 acres of wheat to make enough bread for Canada this year. Something to contemplate, speculate and calculate out here in the darkness, one foot plunging into nothing after the other.

Crickets and frogs have joined the night’s chorus at their church-now-bar on the hard streets of this soft dirt.

And the coyotes start again, calling to their cousins, miles away, seemingly reaching out to the Dirt Hills, which fill in about 800 feet of blue horizon in the southwestern part of this world. Tonight gone from view in the dark, like my boots.

The glowing dusty patches from the combines, carts and trucks in the fields, like small, rolling villages punctuate the night.

A tractor-trailer shushes by on the highway a ways off in the distance. And then poplars, clapping again, seem to applaud the grain haul and the feeding of the world.

And the combine returns, with strong smells of wheat, diesel exhaust and the sounds of its hydraulics, frame and panels groaning under the load of the grain, in the soft, dry dirt. The paycheque is nearer.

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