It was a warm, bright July morning as we pulled into the parking lot on South College Street in Sabina. We arrived at the Cove for the Sabina Church of Christ’s groundbreaking ceremony for their new church.
Church member Donna Clevenger had called to invite us to attend, and kindly asked if I would make a few remarks to the gathering. I readily agreed. Having lived in Sabina for several years, we have many friends in the Sabina Church of Christ. It felt good to go home again.
A red cardinal sang near the shelter as the congregation strolled to the large tent a few feet from the terrace.
Pastor Troy Villars took the podium and asked us to ponder. In that stillness, we prayed for the new church, the hard work, and the new beginning this day represented.
We ended with the familiar words of the Psalm: “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain does its builders labor.”
As we walked back to the shelter we passed a couple sitting on one of the benches. It was Dorothy and Leroy Smith, from just outside Sabina. “We would like to have a couple of your books,” Mrs. Smith said.
“It would be my pleasure,” I replied.
Little did we know at the time, but our pleasant exchange was the beginning of one of the most enjoyable experiences we’ve had in a long time.
A few days later, Brenda and I drove the southern route down SR 72 South through Memphis to the Smith farm to deliver the books.
Although I am a city boy, farms have long been my friend. When I was in grade school at Port William, I always looked forward to when my mother would allow me to ride the school bus with my cousins, Paul and Bill George, to their home on Gallimore Road, and spend the day on their farm.
“You are now at your destination,” the female voice on our GPS we call “Ginger” said as we pulled down the lane and the neatly kept farmyard.
The Smith farm had several barns with three or four John Deeres sitting inside the farm lot. The farm looked like the farms I knew as a boy. The house was shaded by great trees in the yard, spreading their coolness over the front porch and sidewalk.
I recognized the welcome smell of the farm as soon as I stepped out of the car. The whiff of hay in the barn, damp from a day of rain, filled my nostrils as I walked toward the house.
The old barns with their years of stories were in good shape, with wide doors, and the sweet smell of last year’s straw. There was the blending of animals and machinery, of years spent together.
The sun was hot but the slight breeze cooled us as we stepped onto the front porch of the large white farmhouse where Mr. and Mrs. Smith swung in their wooden swing, much like they probably do most nights after supper. It was just the two of them, talking, laughing, and perhaps reminiscing about the many summer days they’ve sat to cool down after a hot day in the field or kitchen.
The silence was striking. There were no sounds except the occasional grunt of a tractor in a nearby field, or a car passing slowly down the country road in front of the house.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith and I sat in the swing talking about the good life on the farm, the hard work and dedication, and the peaceful, rewarding existence it has provided them.
I took my time signing the books. I was feeling cozy, reliving a time that I remembered well growing up. I wanted to savor the brief time I had, and I didn’t want the moment to end.
“Did you ever read Paul Harvey’s speech, ‘So God Made a Farmer?” I asked the Smiths.
“Yes, we have,” Leroy replied.
Harvey’s words came to mind.
“It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners; somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church; somebody who would laugh, and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says that he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does.”
I am proud to say I have many farmer friends — Mike Cowman, Ralph Doak, Mike Mason, Gary and Greg Quallen, Mike Curry, Matt and Scott Ellis, Martin Woodruff, Damian Snyder, Milton Vandervort and others – who “did what their dads did.”
I said goodbye to the Smiths and walked back to the car on the narrow cement sidewalk. “What are you looking at?” Brenda asked, as she saw me glancing back and forth.
“I sure wish I would see an old well pump with a tin cup hanging on the side,” I said. “I need to wash a lump from my throat.”
“Me, too.” she sighed. “Me, too.”
Pat Haley is a Clinton County commissioner.