I’m a water person (Pisces), born in Michigan and surrounded there by literally thousands of fishing lakes and encapsulated by seas of fresh water we call the Great Lakes. It would have taken a call of God on my life to make me leave these amazing waters and move to “seas” of corn, soybeans, and wheat. But that “call of God” showed up when I met Bill Gaither, a Hoosier English teacher who was teaching at the high school near Anderson College. I was a junior in college when I was sent to that high school to teach the French classes for a teacher who was out for a whole six-weeks period for cancer treatment.
When Bill and I were married a year later, it took a while for me to deal with the withdrawal from water I felt and even longer to actually fall in love with beans and corn. As we have since traversed this great country singing, I have discovered that every region has its own particular charm—the desert states, the mountains, the seashores, the towering forests—and the great belly of the country we call “the bread basket of the world” is no exception.
I have grown to love the subtleties of shades of freshly plowed earth; I love the fields at rest, covered with the forgiving snows of winter. I love the gradual changes from the tender green of miles of winter wheat when all else is still brown and thawing in the spring. It takes my breath away when the soybeans are two feet tall and thick as fur on a husky, turning all of central Indiana into an expansive, green lawn as far as the eye can see—or, at least until it collides with another infinity of tasseled corn way higher than “an elephant’s eye.”
Folks here have the saying about the corn: “knee-high by the fourth of July,” but, trust me, the corn behind the barn at Grover’s Corners (Bill’s grandfather’s farm) is twice the height of our 6 ft. tall grandson Will.
By the time the corn is that high, the beans are turning golden, so gold it dazzles the eyes to see it in the late afternoon sun. And in a week or so, the gold leaves disappear and the stems of ripened soybeans are a brown as rich as the acorns on the oaks.
Our son Benjamin (who has created several fun projects for kids) used to joke with his sisters about the conversation neighboring farmers must have at the grain elevator when they get together to plan the next season.
“What you gonna plant next year?”
“Oh, I put out beans this year, so I’ll pro’bly plant corn. How ‘bout you?”
“Ah, I think I’ll plant beans. Had corn this year.”
There had to be a song about that! But, trust me, it’s fun among friends who love this vast prairie and are thankful for it!