My first cherry harvest was an event to remember! Prior to that experience, I had completely taken for granted the fact that there's ripe fruit in the grocery story, and it came from somewhere. How much work it takes to harvest a crop! Be assured, behind every piece of produce are blood, sweat and tears (not to mention blisters, dust, and sunburn).
But oh I had fun! Despite the fact I was still dying of the bubonic plague (or.. um.. a really bad cold), I worked every day from 4am-3pm in the sun, walking, walking, walking around the orchard giving receipts to pickers for their labors. I lost about 15 pounds that week and was sporting a golden (farmer's) tan that would put beach bums to shame. And of course I was glowing -- I was in love with the farmer's son!
Cherry harvest only lasted about a week and my stay was for over two weeks. What to do?
Miriam was working full time, but I was staying with her family, so Mr. Amazing offered to drive me out each day to visit with Meg while he and Tim worked on turning a brush-covered abandoned field into an alfalfa oasis.
"Hm... time alone with him in the pickup," I thought, "I'll take it!!"
On the drive over, we fell into easy conversation. I was so worried we'd have nothing to talk about, but the chatter flowed freely without awkwardness or hesitation.
At last we arrived at the dust patch. Little did I suspect, however, that Meg and I wouldn't be sipping iced tea on the porch whilst watching the menfolk labor. No, Meg was right in there with 'em!
Aaaaah!! You mean I have to get my hands dirty? I'm going to be a scholar! The only dirt I touch is dust on ancient tomes.
But I wanted to show Mr. Amazing that I could be a great farmer's wife, so I leaped out into the field, shovel in hand, ready to dig up the buried irrigation pipes.
My enthusiasm was curbed a bit. Dirt. As far as the eye could see, and not nicely compacted level dirt. No, this was like walking through quicksand, and our destination was (of course) the far end of the field. Help.
The goal was to find the buried irrigation pipe and put a cap on it so water wasn't wasted in the wrong part of the field. You started digging, looking for a pipe, but you had no idea where the pipe actually was, except when given the vague directions: "it's about 3 paces West from the last hole." What the...?
If you were 4 inches off, you could keep digging to Kingdom Come and never find the danged pipe. After about 10 minutes of digging, in the unrelenting sun with no shade, I was getting desperate. Did I mention it was about 110° in the full sun?
"ST. ANTHONY," I yelled. "I'll pray 5 Our Fathers if you help me find the pipe!"
"Alright, you drive a hard bargain... I'll up the ante to 10 Our Fathers."
Nothing (but a blister).
"10 Our Fathers and an Apostles' Creed."
I knew what he wanted. *sigh* "A Rosa..."
"Alright, alright, thanks, but a Rosary is extortion for one little pipe."
And so the routine continued for 5 more pipes. I'd lowball the saint and get nothing until I promised another Rosary.
Oh it was so hot.
A few hours later, and 6 promised Rosaries in, I realized I couldn't open my parched mouth. I was lightheaded, dizzy, and very sleepy. My limbs felt like lead. It came on all of a sudden, with little warning.
"Uh oh," I thought. I knew I was in serious trouble. I looked up and the world was swimming. I had tunnel vision and clouded hearing.
I stumbled 1/4 of a mile (but it felt like a marathon, and I fell to my knees and crawled part of the way) back to the shade and to water. The field was so big, and I was alone on that end... I couldn't open my mouth to speak, much less call for help.
There was a gallon jug there in the shaded pickup under the tree, and I chugged the whole thing without thinking. The whole gallon and I was still parched. I was sweating but freezing.
I really thought I was going to die, or at least wake up in a hospital. I put water on my forehead, neck, arms and backs of my knees -- it helped.
I can't die without him knowing that I love him!!! To this day I still believe it was that thought that kept me from collapsing. I couldn't succumb and I willed myself (with the grace of God) to stay awake and alert.
To be continued...