We’re all familiar with the traditions that Fall brings, including the end of white shoes, the disappearance of productive work days due to fantasy football, and the first Christmas trees in the mall.
Autumn always makes me think of Aesop’s fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” where the lazy grasshopper plays all summer, while the productive ant spends his time amassing a storage of food. When the frost comes and the crops disappear, the ants are well provided for, while the grasshopper starves to death. (You may know an alternate version where the ant kindly shares his bounty, but in the original fable, the grasshopper dies. The old-school fables can be kind of disturbing!) The moral of this story, “It is best to prepare for winter, because winter always comes,” sounds a bit like a certain George R. R. Martin line.
Historically, this concept was cause for celebration: The harvest festival was one last hurrah before winter comes and marks the start of the harvest season, where farmers collected bushels of food, celebrated their bounty, and stockpiled for the impending winter blizzards.
We live in an area where we don’t have many farms or harvest festivals, but the “gatherer” instinct in me has always liked the idea of squirreling away a season’s worth of food. In lieu of a field to reap, I tend to plow the aisles of the suburban farm known as Costco and stockpile for the impending thirty minutes of icy sleet we get every “winter.”
However, that doesn’t help my kids understand the origins of the harvest season, preparing for winter, or the moral of Aesop’s disturbing fable. Luckily, the new October edition of Ladybug features a number of stories, poems, and articles all about the traditions and celebrations of the harvest season. And even luckier, the carts at Costco are big enough that my kids can read the articles in the magazine while I push them around hoarding cereal, granola bars, and soy sauce by the metric ton.
Get a sneak peek at next month’s farm-filled fall fun edition of Ladybug below.
Harvest Time with Papa
By Karilynn Benjamin
Art by Kristin Sorra
This morning I am up with the birds, putting on my farm overalls and pulling on my boots.
“Papa!” I call as I run out the door. “Can I come farm with you?” It’s harvest time on our Montana wheat farm, and the best part of living here is hanging out with Papa while he works.
“OK, Sweet Pea. But you’ll have to help.”
When we get to the combine, the fields lie before us in rippling gold—acres and acres of ripe grain swaying in the breeze.
“Papa,” I ask, “how do you know it’s time for the harvest?” Papa plucks a head of wheat and rubs it between his hands until it crumbles.
“See how the kernels separate from the chaff?” He blows and the chaff flies into the wind. The plump gold kernels remain. “Here,” he says, “chew them up.”
I crunch the grain between my teeth. It tastes warm and nutty. “Feel the crunch?” Papa asks. “That’s how you know the wheat is ripe. Chew long enough and it will be like gum.”
We head for the tall green combine. Papa helps me up the ladder. I can see for miles from the cab, all the way to Canada.
The combine roars loudly when Papa starts it. He hits a button, and the header on the front begins to turn. As it rotates, the scissors-like cutter bar snips the wheat. I can see all of the wheat heads rushing in like a storm of gold, piling in on each other and swooshing up the conveyor into the combine. Papa sets the GPS to auto steer, and we are off!
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Cricket Media Mama is currently contemplating how she managed to fit more Costco products into her cart than will fit in her car, and wonders if Costco would miss the cart if she just pushed it home instead.