Traveling the length of Oregon this season, I am grateful for the scent of autumn approaching.
The fragrance of fresh-cut hay is heavy on the still-hot wind, and the sun has dried crops to a sweet dustiness that signals the end of summer.
I breathe it all in as if my lungs could capture this place, this scent, this wonderful scene of farms as far as the eye can see. I breathe it all in as if I could capture the scent of summer departing, perhaps storing it in cell memory for the seasons ahead.
These scents evoke strong memories of our family farms (we lived on three, near Toronto, Canada), and I am flooded with visions of everyone working together in the dust and heat, grateful for a productive season.
There are crops here I don’t recognize, yet a spanking new combine whirls through rows of incredible greenery, churning up an unmistakable scent that informs all my senses with one word: Harvest.
The farmer leaves behind neat rows of freshly churned plants and a whiff of fresh, green peas. I learn later that he was harvesting soybeans.
There are well-fed cattle in the fields as we pass, and thousands of sheep — white, black, white-and-black — guarded by llamas. They seemed so incongruous when we first moved here, yet llamas have become a comforting landmark of Oregon, a sign that the herds are well-protected by hardy, Peruvian stock.
Their long necks, arched over wooly charges, are almost comical on this flat landscape.
We note that the corn seems stunted, and wonder about drought. No one who values farms can see a damaged crop and not think of the water-starved midwest and south.
When we pass tractor trailers on I-5, we’re met by a swirl of hay coming off bales stacked high, on truck after truck. All those whirling bits of gold make us grateful for Oregon’s bounty, and we hope that the plenty here finds its way to other ranchers, desperate for cattle feed.
This is a time for sharing, when some have so much, and others are struggling.