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Subject: On the banks of the mighty Willamette River rss

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R. H.
United States
Lake Oswego
Oregon
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On the banks of the mighty Willamette River five farmers came together. Each one bone-weary from the exhausting harvesting days which were upon them, each tilling the fields until fingers bled from paper cuts of thinning cards.

The five met after the crepuscular light had given way to night, the beer had been drafted and the real work of trading was to begin. They met in the rustic local tavern, where parking the tractors within a decent walking distance had made big trouble for all, although they each thanked the good land that tractor parking was the extent of their problems this season-- after all, who didn't remember how that sad family the Joads fared just a few years back when there was no bean farming to be done at all.

The five farmers were here this appointed night to try to make exchanges so that the beans from each farm could be taken to market. Each held on to hope with the will of twenty oxen, that he or she might reap the greatest rewards of another season, earn some gold coin and more: to win the blue ribbon from the 4-H given out during the fair days to the greatest Farmer of all.

Ol' David, the most veteran farmer, had seen many seasons of harvest. He patiently explained to the newer farmers among us that rains were fickle, and that it could cause trouble for the soil if a single bean be pulled, so it shan't be done anywhere in the county. Ol' David summoned his most serious tone, and implored us all, telling again and again the well worn and true as first morning light proverb:

"beans planted from the hand, have to come from the last end of the hand."

Ol' David recounted with some sadness that there were years where the hardscrabble land was so cruel and unyielding, the spirit of a farmer would almost be broke as he had to give away new plantings to the other farmers with nothing fair in exchange back, but this be a better bargain with nature than pulling up a whole fecund field of almost ripe beans for a mere few tokens. Ol' David knew the business of beaning alright, and he regaled us with tales of woe, tales of triumph and all the rules that fell somewhere in between.

There was no ceremony, no pomp like the urban folks might do, the trading just began in earnest, first tentatively then with some briskness. Farmer Ryan, a lad who had just a week prior seen the horrors of war in old Spain fighting for this province or the other as a mercenary for an El Grande, had come back to the his roots in this rolling pasture land just at a time when feed costs were rising. But he had the good sense to plant cocoa in fallow rotation and had almost a field full which added greatly to his well earned yield.

The Farmer D. and her own daughter also with the initial D. sat as 2 of the 5, ready to trade and smart with their crops. But these two were nevertheless in a predicament that the cow milkers, the corn sod-busters and certainly the wily folks from Arkham don't see in a a hundred harvest moons: they planted fields each alone-- trading against each other not like blood relations at all, but like competitors, adversaries even. And neither showed a softness or inclination to give the other a better deal than any other Farmer around. When D. the Mother denied D. the Daughter a bluebean here, waxbean there, one had to lament that the simple ways of our great-grandparents and the family values of farm country had all been uprooted for an extra coin.

The last Farmer, Farmer R., author of this here note, had come to the table exhausted from a grueling day. She had been all day tending to her offspring who had fallen sick with fever which had made the child grouchy as the rooster. Farmer R. felt like her own head was full of manure, for each time she offered a wax bean, she realized later that she meant to get rid of the chilibean, and where she wanted a chilibean she held tight to the stinkbean. Perhaps Farmer R. should have stopped on main street to see the merchant S. Bucks, seller himself of beans, and had a triple pull of the ground roasted bean through boiling water before attending the serious business of trading beans.

All five farmers quickly reinvested in the land, purchasing an extra bean field apiece, though the soil was wicked with hate and many seasons saw each Farmer despair for pulling up partially grown crops, rarely a complete bushel among them. Farmer Ryan, toiling with great might, had sown three of the four cocoa beans, knowing that the last cocoa seed stock was beginning to mold in Farmer David's hand. He spoke with grit and truthiness:

"That cocoa bean's gonna git werthless if I harvest mine here on my crabby land 'Ol David. You and yer kin can give it on over now or yer gonna getcha yerself stuck with a bean of ruin."

But 'Ol David didn't listen, and sure and swift Farmer Ryan tilled until that crop could be delivered for coin. And sure as he said, Farmer David had to plant a useless Cocoa that did nothing for him but sit there looking back at him with all the rot of the stagnant water out behind pasture.

It was late enough that the barkeep started tossing out the drunks and the Farmers who had to be up early the next morn were already snoring back in their beds, but the five Farmers at the Tavern were just finishing their trading. The cash yield per acre was tallied and three Farmers had bested the others but had all brought the exact same coin as the other two besters for their efforts. The 4-H would just have to cut that blue-ribbon in thirds, at least until the Farmers could return next season with many more bean seeds, invigorated hopes and new thoughts on the salty old proverb learnt that night. And friend, friend who finds my small story hanging up on this bulletin board at the geek grange hall, I remind you of the proverb again and extol you virtuous folk to adhere to it for a decent and worthy life: "beans planted from the hand, have to come from the last end of the hand." A good harvest to you all.
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