September 3, 2012 |  by

Started the old truck to take the trip over the mountain to see my farmer.  Once the engine warmed, it is easy to climb over the grounds where iron ore was removed in the 18th century.  The trees are beginning to show signs of autumn.  One of my favorites is the walnut – it’s leaves fall to the ground like large snow flakes, spinning and glistening in the autumnal sun.  The shape of the tree, more visible as the leaves fall, itself seems to be the shape of autumn.

My farmer is a gentleman who speaks softly.  I find him cleaning the cow pen under the large Swiss-German barn. He’s got a head set on, listening to what I assume is music, but I quickly learn I am wrong after he gives me a friendly wave and pulls the headset off.

“You’re not watching the Penn State game?” he asks incredulously.

“No, I’ve come for hay.  Do you have some for sale?”

He still can’t believe that someone who could be watching the Penn State game isn’t.  It isn’t the time for me to explain that I don’t watch television.  I am not sure he would understand anyway.  Our conversation drifts naturally to the weather and the impending harvest.

I thought of our encounter as I load the truck by hand.  How different our conversation would have flowed had it been 200 years earlier.  Today, through the magic and power of a myriad of forms of communication, we can both speak of a game that is being played in real time some 150 miles away.  I could only just imagine the topics of conversation of our 18th century counterparts, the surprise over news that might be a week or months old, two gentlemen discussing the weather and the harvest.

As I drove home back over the mountain, the truck groaning with the weight and the grade, I mused over these thoughts.  I took comfort in the idea that, despite a game being played and broadcast directly to my friend, my gentleman farmer and I still conversed about the weather and the harvest, a conversation that would have been enthusiastically joined by our 18th century counterparts…

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