Instead of heading toward the barn for tools and equipment Toby just started walking in the blue stubble left by the combine. The stiff thick grass was dry and crunched beneath their boots with each step. The only sound for miles around was the crunch, crunch, crunch of the old man and young boy.
“You okay with turning this over after lunch?” Toby asked waving at the long row of cut straw they were walking beside.
“Sure,” Jack answered and then decided on a more complete answer, “I never have but I know how.”
“Fine, I’ll keep watch for the first pass of two.” Toby bent down and picked up a few of the blue stems and rubbed them between his fingers. “Feel that,” he said handing the stocks to Jack. Jack assumed his thoughtful face and rubbed the grass as he had watched Toby do. He tried to learn whatever it was Toby meant for him to learn. The grass was dry but still had enough moisture in it to turn his fingers blue. He let the wheat straw fall to the ground but rubbed his fingers together a couple more times holding them up so Toby could see the blue finger tips.
“Well what did you learn?” asked Toby.
“I say we turn it once this afternoon, let it dry for the rest of the weekend and get the balers in after the dew burns off on Monday morning.” Jack said with a grin, repeating a phrase he had heard all his life almost word for word.
Toby laughed out loud hearing the mimic in Jack’s voice. “Your dad may not be a farmer but you’ve stayed pretty close to the land.
The old man and young boy walked to the boarder of the farm where two paths the width of tractor tires had been worn all along the East edge. They approached the dark green water pump that marked the end of the tractor path and the Northeast corner of the farm. Looking straight down the dirt road they could see another green water pump at the far Southeast corner of the square of land. But the view that pointed out the uniqueness of Toby’s land was the view to the West. Looking West the combine had turned as close to the end of Toby’s field as the operator knew how but between Toby’s field and his neighbor’s field a line of blue wheat remained. Sometimes the line of blue wheat with its red grain was only six inches wide, sometimes a foot and sometimes where the turn had not overlapped a curved point of red grain ran into the harvested field four feet or more but what startled the eye was the perfectly straight line of blue topped with red next to a perfectly straight line of his neighbor’s golden grain that still remained un-harvested. The line between the blue and gold couldn’t have been straighter if a string line had been stretched from one corner to the next. It was an impossible thing that obviously existed. They both stared at the North edge of the field as their brains tried to make sense of the information sent from their eyes. Toby had seen this scene from the time he was a small boy and still had no explanation that would make it an ordinary thing.
Toby broke the silence; “This is your job until it’s time to turn the straw. Get the trailer hooked up to the tractor and cut any grain you see. Most will be along the North and South boundaries but any places the combine missed,” he was so close to the forced acknowledgment of the impossible that his speech was soft, reverent. “We won’t store it in the silo, it belongs to the poor.” The walk back to the barn felt like coming home from church after a service that left the power of God undeniable.
Cutting the stocks of grain by hand was hard, slow work and the combination of dripping in sweat and hacking away at the wheat left Jack’s areas of exposed flesh a dark blue. His brown skin gave sharp contrast in places washed clean by his perspiration. When lunchtime came the small trailer was filled with the first load of the red grain and Jack let the tractor chug its way back to the barn being careful not to bounce over bumps in the road. Toby let Jack wash himself with the garden hose and brought sandwiches outside where they ate sitting on the front steps of the farmhouse.