The 26 miles from our home to R and R Farms gave me opportunity for one large thermos mug of coffee. It also affords me the time for reflection of the 23 seasons of involvement in the harvest which I have shared with John, Ed, Joe, Mike, Larry, Dean, Hoss, Joey ,Will, Ron, Jason, Dustin, part-time, Ryan, Lannis, Eldon, Jay, Bryce, Heath, Shawn, Colton, Dylan, Darcy, Josh and so many others that my sleep-deprived brain cannot remember them. Sugar beet harvest has been excellent as a yearly drop-shipment of money but more important are the friendships and experiences. I don’t travel a lot so I have to get my life experiences here in the dark and heavy soil near Warren.
I walked in the shop at about three that morning. Sammy the Lab was sleeping so comfortably that even when he stirred to accept an ear rub it was only to make me feel good. The R and R Shop/trucker lounge is equipped with a nice kitchen so I made coffee and ate Oreo cookies while I waited for Lannis to bring my truck in from the field. Oreos at three in the morning sounds like a bad decision but I am awake at three in the morning, ready to spend the next 12 hours trucking the same route repeatedly so I obviously have suspended any sound decision making practices so why not eat Oreos?
I’ve spoken of strange things I’ve seen at night in the sugar beet patch but nothing prepared me for what I saw that evening. Ed Rosendahl was out to help at three in the morning. Ed has been more of a dayshift person for quite some time and I’m sure the last time he was up at three in the morning was when he’d accidentally allowed himself a glass of water after six pm. I thought he was perhaps an apparition but he was just good, old Ed; helping everybody by driving around in little circles.
I used to say I saw aliens flying about the sugar beet patch however now I know that it is more politically correct to call them undocumented Martian friends. Whatever, they hover about the skies at night and make rota beeter drivers fall sound asleep only to awaken with an unsubstantiated sense of their place in the harvest. I mean the tractors drive themselves and come with Ambien dispensers for their drivers so how hard can the job really be (only kidding, I love you sleepy, solitary guys.)
As I write this column, we are one day into the harvest with about four days of pre-pile under our belts from September. My old cell phone had directions to all of the fields but I changed phones without transferring directions. For this reason, if you see a lost trucker wandering around Burnside Corner, March Siding or any of the colorful, locally-named geographical hot spots, it is me. Please call Ed or John so they can give me directions to where I am supposed to be and so that Ed can then make fun of me for getting lost. I probably deserve it.