Weizen

Here in southern Germany, summer this year has meant mostly gray skies and rain. My umbrella has been a current fixture in my purse and we’ve been pulling the plants under cover more often than not so they won’t drown. It’s not been ideal for afternoons in the beer gardens or bike rides along the river or really much more than moping about inside glaring at the sky. For the area wheat farmers however, the heavy rains have delayed harvest, damaged crops and turned fields more of a sickly gray than harvest gold.

Happily, the weather opted to switch to summer mode last week, and I started noticing fields were being harvested, straw baled and stubble turned under to prepare for next year. What I wasn’t seeing however, was any actual harvesting. After a week of watching the fields changing seemingly overnight, I enlisted Chad to drive us around on a sunny Sunday afternoon to hunt down some combines. Seeing as my father is in the midst of harvest himself (hi, Dad!), I thought this could be a good distraction for him, assuming he gets a free minute to read it.

Around here, the fields are all postcard-sized, alternating wheat, corn and occasionally canola (and once, sun flowers!). I have no idea if it is by choice or if no one owns one large plot of land here, but it does make for lovely changing scenery.

The combines, like the fields, are pocket-sized as well. Compared to the machines I grew up around, these seem more like the younger sibling. It’s not really surprising, as nearly everything in the US is larger than in Europe, be it hotel rooms, cars or soft drinks, but it certainly looked different.

I think the most telling however, was watching one combine drive through town. Considering the roads tend to be barely wide enough for two (European-sized) cars, it was a bit of a shock to see this combine coming at us and no need for us to even pull off the road.

And though I wouldn’t call much of what we saw today familiar, it at least didn’t seem quite as foreign as so much here can. But charmingly small combines or no, I think I’ll still take the rolling hills of home any day.

*Wheat

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