Jack sat on the oversized seat of the old red bike, his arms to his sides, and his feet flat on the ground on each side of the bike. The house was still dark but behind the house the sun made the edge of the mountain ridge to the East shine in preparation for morning. The paved road from town headed Northwest of Toby’s house and by the time it reached this far North it was a mile away. A dirt road ran perpendicular to the paved road and made the connection to Toby’s farm. Jack was turned toward the West watching for the dust the line of harvesting equipment would make. He only knew of the sun’s position by the lighter shades of blue the sky turned as more of the sun was exposed. He stared, thinking about how the day would go; of things he could offer to help with and wondered how Toby was doing. Toby was a landmark. He was a part of the land, not something that had been added but something that had always been. Jack understood that this was not true but deep down he still believed it. Behind him the crown of the sun now sat on top of the mountains and a small cloud of dust appeared where the dirt road began. A light went on in the house and Jack could hear water running through the pipes. Toby was awake. The dust cloud on the dirt road approached slowly giving time for Toby’s shower and then time for him to get dressed. Jack parked his bicycle next to the house when he could make out the green of the harvester. He heard the screen door of the house slam shut behind Toby as the harvester along with two dump trucks and a pick-up truck moved into the clear space in front of the barn. Toby gave Jack a quick nod and went to talk to the driver of the pick-up. The conversation was short and then the pick-up laden with diesel tanks, hoses, and toolboxes led the equipment to the edge of the field. Operators jumped out of their vehicles and started making adjustments and shouting to each other above the noise of the engines.
“Well, it’s always exciting,” Toby said as he joined Jack in watching the start of the harvest from where Jack stood near the house. As he spoke the harvester started across the field at a run. Wheat grains blew from an arm like tube from the harvester to the first of the dump trucks. The dump truck kept perfect time with the green harvester, keeping close to its side as it filled with red grain. A long pile of blue straw trailed the combine as the machine grew smaller in the distance and took the noise and dust with it.
“The first load goes directly to the mill in town,” Toby informed Jack. “We still have time for some toast and jelly; if you’re interested?” Jack followed Toby into the house where they snacked on the dark red toast and talked until they heard the first truck head down the dirt road going back to town. They walked to where they could see the progress in the field without getting too far from the barn and watched the cloud of dust behind the combine harvester move back and forth across the field.