Last weekend the kids and I headed back to the farm to spend a few days with my parents, brothers, SIL, and cousins. Mike stayed back in Rochester to … clean the carpets and windows! God Bless Mike!

Growing up on the farm, I can’t tell you how familiar certain smells are to me. My kids … not so much. When we arrived at my parents’ farm on Friday, we were quickly ushered to the shed to check out their new huge camper. It was fantastic and the kids have their next vacation planned now. When we left the shed, my two oldest kids acted like they were going to die. Several miles away from us there’s a plant, and I admit, it reeks. But to see Kadi and Ben … good grief! They had their shirts pulled over their noses and were running to the house.

My dad and brother raise hogs and when the wind is out of the east, it can get fairly ripe. I can’t say I enjoy the odor, but it’s familiar and I immediately have a dozen memories pop into my head. Harvest smells, though, are my favorite. There’s a sense of excitement in the air as the family worked together to accomplish something monumental before the weather began working against us.

This weekend my family tried to replicate some of our harvest traditions. We boxed up lunch and took it to the field to eat with Dave and Dad. I remember sitting on the tailgate of the pick-up eating egg salad sandwiches as a kid. If we didn’t make that effort, we simply didn’t see Dad for days on end. My kids huddled in the back of the SUV eating BBQs and chips before dividing up and going into various pieces of equipment … Caleb and I rode in the combine with Uncle Dave, Ben and Grandpa hauled a wagon down the field and met the combine when it was time to unload, and Kadi and Grandma took pictures and waited for their turn after we completed a couple of rounds. Can I just tell you that tractors, specifically combines, are nothing today like they were thirty years ago?! I remember sitting on the arm of Dad’s seat with a sweatshirt jammed behind me to try to make a cushy spot. Getting cozy was a lesson in futility, but our discomfort never prevented us from falling asleep. That part hasn’t changed. While the seats are wonderful and combines today even come with a wonderful “banker’s seat” for passengers, by the start of the second round, Caleb was slumping against me and fighting a nap.

When Ben and I took our turn waiting at the end of the field for the farmers, he turned to me and asked, “Is tomorrow Harvest?” It was kind of like “Is tomorrow Thanksgiving?” It’s funny … harvest was a huge part of my growing up life for at least 18 years and my citified chidren think it’s a one day holiday. Ben and I had a long visit about harvest and what it means. We also discussed what it means to plant and harvest spiritual seeds.

Ben may not remember our conversation for long, but I won’t forget it. I will also be making an annual trip back to the farm at harvest time. Some lessons are best learned sitting at the end of a field with chaff in your hair.