Nothing to complain about when the weather is a mere 90 degrees and the sun is shining! My confeence is almost over. I've been on the floor about 8-10 hours a day, meeting people,smoozing and looking for business. The days are long, but I do enjoy the places I visit . Too bad this time I haven't stepped outside since I took the great photo of the Alamo! Room service every night and lots and lts of rewrites! I swear I could have a second book done by now!
Here's a short chapter from the book that some of you might recognize if you've ever been blessed with visiting northern Maine!
In Victoria County, all work ceased in late September when the potato crop was ripe for picking. Self-employed men scheduled their work around the potato crop, as a good portion of a family’s income was made during the three weeks of harvest. Children were dismissed from school to aid the family with the yield. Rarely were babysitters needed. Mothers latched babies to their bodies in makeshift burlap bag slings, swinging the child forward and back as they bowed in the cool air of the September mornings.
The foreman would assign a length of row, known as a section, to each picker, staking the beginning and end of each row. Every man, woman, and child had a section of varying length. They’d pick the row clean to the end of their own stake, then move the stake to the next row where they would bend and begin again.
The plows moved across the rich, dark soil, two steel discs discharging the potatoes from their earthy lairs, exposing the fruit to the pickers and releasing the fragrance of rich, tilled soil. Large wooden barrels were placed at intervals between each picker’s rows. The workers began at one end of their line, hunched over, a huge woven basket placed between their open legs.
Searching the ground for the hidden crop, their hands sunk deep into the black dirt, they plucked the fruit and tossed it into the basket between their legs. Moving forward, they lurched the basket ahead with them like hop-scotching frogs. When the container was full, they rose, placed the basket on their hip, staggered to the barrel and dumped the heavy cargo into the waiting wooden cask.
The field dance went on all day, bobbing bodies raising and lowering; the thumping of rolling potatoes hitting wood echoing across the fields. The pickers were paid by the barrel, so they raced the rows like marathon runners gathering medals at a finish line.
Breaks were rare. A whistle announced a quick stop for water. Another for a half-hour lunch where men would gather to smoke cigarettes and women to gossip. The older children acted like circus clowns, sometimes tipping barrels, jumping inside as other children rolled them around the fields.
Laughter broke the monotony of the tractor’s hum. When the whistle signaled the end of the day, Emily watched the slow rise of her mother’s body from her bent position. Maureen rubbed her back and wiped her brow with her dirty hand. Her call gathered her children as though they had been a brood of wandering ducks. During harvest no one remembered anything more than the ache of muscles, long days and short nights where sleep was as instantaneous as death. Emily loved harvest time. The stairs never creaked during harvest time.