On this crisp, cold South Dakota morning in early November, the leaves with their autumnal gold, red and yellow colors have fallen to the ground.
On this crisp, cold South Dakota morning in early November, the leaves with their autumnal gold, red and yellow colors have fallen to the ground. The tall, barren trees once were a vibrant green, now stand like cold skeletons in the cold north wind. Jack Frost has left his trademark on the storm windows with crystalline designs. This morning is the second Saturday in the month. There is a certain urgency to get the fall chores done.
Six pairs of heavy work boots thunder down the stairs. The Groves brothers shake the sleep from their eyes as they greet mom and dad, who have been up since early morning getting the fire in the old warm morning cookstove going, so mom can fix breakfast for six young guys who are ravenously hungry.
Mom puts the breakfast on the table. The aroma of the breakfast - eggs sunny side up, fresh biscuits and gravy and fresh brewed coffee. The coffee pot is perking, making a catchy stattico sound as it brews the morning “soma.” The boys praise their mother for the wonderful repast. After a short morning, thanking the Heavenly Father for a good night of sleep and the new day, providing a wonderful breakfast and giving thanks for the hands that have prepared it. When the prayer is done, all hands are ready to dig in and enjoy the breakfast.
Dad sits in his blue “captain’s chair” and outlines what they will need to accomplish on that busy Saturday. There is still a great deal of corn in the field, which needs to be picked by two crews of harvesters. The stalls in the barn where the dairy cows stand need to be cleaned and fresh straw spread. Several loads of hay will be hauled from the large haystack in the field to be put in the feed bunk for the cows to munch. A wagon load of chicken feed needs to be ground and hauled to the feed bin in the chicken house. A good supply of wood needs to be split for the hungry furnace in the basement. Someone will need to fill a dozen burlap bags with fresh corncobs from the corncrib and lined up in the fuel room in the basement.
When the boys have finished breakfast, a hearty “let’s go!” rings through the house, like a football team going for their first win, as they thunder outside to get to work. Dad packs his old Meerschaum pipe with Prince Albert tobacco. For one long, leisurely smoke before he heads outside to begin his mountain of work.
Suddenly, the house is quiet, as the guys have donned their heavy work coats and moved on out of doors to begin the long lists of tasks to be done before darkness.
With a deep sigh of weariness, mom sits down to eat her breakfast and sip a cup of hot, steaming coffee. Her day had just begun, with laundry to be done, a dirty house to be cleaned, with the help of he younger sister. Food must be prepared for lunch and dinner, because hungry men can “eat you out of house and home,” as the old saying goes. Tomorrow is Sunday, and Sunday dinner must be put together, ready to get into the cavernous oven of the kitchen range. Before she has time to get a second breath, it is noontime, and the guys are in a big rush. They are famished and don’t have a lot of time to eat their lunch. The day’s work is only half done, and must be finished before dark.
The Ringneck Pheasants are cackling in the cornfield, as dad and a couple of brothers come home with a huge load of new picked earcorn. Overhead, a flock of wild geese stretches across the sky, making their way to the south as they call out a mournful migration cry. Dad comes into the house after unloading his load of corn. His comments as he sits down for lunch - “Well, ‘someone’ has told the wild geese it is time to go.”
Lunch is consumed in quick fashion, and everyone needs to rush back to work. The afternoon flies by as another load of corn is hauled. The last load of hay is hauled to the loafing shed, and a load of chicken feed is run through the hammermill and hauled to the chicken house. Mounds of fresh pine wood is split and put in a pile, ready to be taken to the basement wood bin. Rows of fresh corncobs in burlap bags line the wall in the basement, and the wood box behind the kitchen range is heaped high with kindling wood.
The wild geese continue their endless trek to the south, and the cock pheasants continue their conversations as the wagon slowly makes its way into the yard with another load of corn.
When the Groves clan comes in for supper, there is not the usual spring in their step. They are dog tired and ready for Saturday night baths. After a delicious dinner of ham and mashed potatoes, cream style corn and fresh baked bread with a wonderful fruit salad, finished off with warm apple pie, Dad looks out the window to see the first snowfall of the winter. Six pairs of heavy work boots line the wall, and the heavy work coats are hung on their hangers. Seven weary Groves guys have just made it for the first snow, and the Great Creator has sent his wild creatures on their long journey south. There is a feeling of security on that Saturday evening, as all of the work got done before the first snowfall of the season.
A little night music
The sun has set on the Kansas plains
Long fingers of light in rose and gold rise from the west horizon,
a testament to the many hues found in nature’s paintbox
From a distant cottonwood tree, a turtledove sings
her plaintive melody in the early evening
beginning on cue when the last rays of the sunset are gone
singing to her mate an obligatto to the soft sounds of the evening breeze.
The nightingale picks up the strains of the dove’s song
singing her night song in rich coloratura
music not equaled by soprano or tenor voices.
A cicada eager to contribute to the evening’s roundelay
begins his monotonous buzz buzz buzz.
Finally, darkness is settling on the plain and the woods alike
as the evening shadows deepen, the soft moonlight floods the landscape
with its subtle beauty in full orchestration, a
Chirping a sprightly staccato, a cricket is inspired
to add to this evening serenade.
So ends nature’s little night music.
The world closes its weary eyes in deep sleep
forgetting all the cares of a long, hard day.
By Les Groves