sickle in hand, the farmer made his way through golden fields of oats ripening in the autumn sun. he wore deep, faded denim jeans, a grey waffle knit sweater that hugged tightly to his torso, scuffed brown work boots, a stained and dirty once-white baseball cap, and no gloves.
he stopped, rested the handle of the sickle on his thigh, the blade on fresh soil, and ran his fingers over the tops of the oat stalks, as if tussling the hair of a niece or nephew.
he smiled to himself.
fresh, cool air carried the unmistakable scent of fall as he bent his back and raised the sickle to begin his harvest.
he worked with a patient desperation; his shadow stretched long and thin through the afternoon and into early evening.
the cool air grew cooler as dusk, with such grace, fell across the western horizon in a glow of muted orange laced with lavender, stretching into a soon-to-be-night sky peppered with yawning stars.
the farmer’s hands, still bare, calloused enough not to blister, gentle enough to pluck oats from the chaff,
he worked through the night, a yellow harvest moon smiling down upon him, barn owls quietly demanding to know who it was working so late in the fields.
as the sun woke in the east, the farmer gathered the ripest oats, the finest of his labor, sorted them into a mason jar and sealed the lid. all of the other oats he poured into burlap sacks and stored in the area of the barn that is most shaded during the day.
he left his sickle in the barn and walked, a little proudly, very nervously, to the house of a young woman who lived not far from his own. he cradled the mason jar in his bare hands as he walked.
he reached her home and knelt at her doorstep. he pulled a pen from the back pocket of his dark, faded denim jeans, and a folded scrap of paper he had tucked in his side pocket yesterday morning.
“all that i have is yours.”
he then fished a yellow ribbon he had cut from a spool purchased in town, also yesterday morning, from his other pocket. the ribbon was slightly wrinkled, and he quietly cursed himself for keeping it in his pocket during his labor. he tied, as best a farmer can, the ribbon into a bow around the mason jar,
and set the mason jar of his harvest on top of the note.
he did not sign it.
she would know it was he who left it.
he walked home, the cool air his escort, and smiled to himself as the autumn sun warmed the earth beneath his feet.