I step onto the edge of this earthy field. A few potatoes lie here and there. Some have been smashed by the mechanical harvester, but others are still good and could be gleaned. I stoop to steal a couple. They are buff-colored, dimpled with textured skin, rough beneath my thumb. Standing here with the Aroostook wind blowing across me, across the fields, I’m shivering.
I look out into the wind toward the spread patchwork of fields. The fields surrounding are dug up, brown but crisscrossed with green—the boundaries of other fields defined in trees. There in the distance is a tiny grouping of harvester and truck, appearing motionless, going about the ponderous mechanical business of gathering tubers. There, high schoolers stand on the rumbling platform, slinging rotten spuds and rocks from conveyors. It’s all too small for me to see distinctly and I don’t see the people: I see machines.
I breathe in on a sigh. Being in The County, where clipped farmland presents so spread a sky is like seeing from the top of a mountain. It’s symbolically appropriate that one finds Aroostook at the top of the Maine map. But, if you are at this moment in a midwestern farmhouse and want to see the view from a mountaintop, go out the back door, step well away from the house, and turn a 360.
You’re now on top of the world, looking out from the heavenly perspective on a realm full of food or the powerful potential for food.
Yet there is some difference between Kansas and The County: When I climb at last into the warm and buttoned up Subaru, I’m greeted with melodious French, the voice of a young woman flowing from the radio.
From the Bangor Daily News:
Like a dozen school districts scattered around Aroostook County, SAD 27 in Fort Kent still breaks for harvest every year. Classes this year were out for two weeks, Sept. 19 to Oct. 3. The Martins needed their pickers this week, harvesting their crop from Sept. 27 through Oct. 3.
For more on that see, http://bangordailynews.com/slideshow/old-fashioned-tradition-reigns-supreme-at-one-potato-farm-in-the-crown-of-maine/