A Field Full of Lessons and Gold

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Forty years, and then some, ages the old bean truck. It became a part of the family’s life blood when dad bought it in the 60’s to carry 1500 pound boxes of the bean harvest from our farm on Mosby Creek to the cannery in Eugene; a harvest largely accomplished by hardworking kids needing money for school supplies and clothes to wear. 

The month-long August bean harvest generally was a Monday to Friday activity, rain or shine, from 8:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. Perhaps 3:30 or 4:00 depending on the urgency to pick beans before they were over-grown culls. Somebody’s mom was a bean-boss responsible for encouraging the pickers to do their best including picking all the beans without destroying vines or picking beans too small until the following week. It was a learning experience that would last a lifetime. 

Scrub trees now grow through the truck’s wooden deck, the deck where celebration watermelon and cantaloupe were served to those young harvesters of life and learning on the final day at the seasons end. Sticky juice ran down smiling chins and through dirty hands rubbed clean on dusty pants with a deserved feeling of accomplishment and a job well done. As many as 300 bean pickers showed up each season discovering how equal we all were. Carrying lunches in paper bags, drinking water from the same five- gallon water cans, using the same smelly toilets, all with new school clothes on our minds. 

It’s not wrong to miss those days. The days of sweat and sore muscles, smiles among 

friends and family, feeling a sense of accomplishment no matter how small. This is providing a sense of purpose for everyone of all ages with dirt under fingernails grasping a check of a few dollars to prove their value and worth. 

  • These recollections fifty years gone stir many thoughts and emotions. How powerful are they? Are they good or potentially harmful in present times? At the time the work was a challenge on some days, but we learned how good it felt to actually earn our pay and were motivated by the experience. 
  • Studies in cognitive dissonance may tell a story of faults in our thinking, pitching our lives in ways we struggle to avoid. The studies can be too academic missing the points of life. Sure we think different things, have varying beliefs and influences on our lives but the activity of learning stays for retrieving when needed the most, in more difficult times sometime on the horizon. Valuable lessons that stay with us are purchased by experience, not as much in books or in someone else’s lecture. 
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