Crack! “Dang it.” Crack! “Ah, there it is.” The flame roars to life from freshly dried tobacco leaves in my third-generation pipe. The sun sets behind rows of corn, nearly dusk now, as the fireflies begin their evening dance. I pull out my daily farm journal, a discipline passed down from my father to chronicle the events of the day. I think for a moment, and then I write:
I visited Farmer Maggot today. I ran into him at the Green Dragon one evening, and he shared he was having a hard time fixing his wagon. The spoke was broken off completely. This is my first time going to his farm—by invitation of course. Farmer Maggot greeted me at the edge of the lane with his three dogs. Too old and blind to serve as good guard dogs anymore, I gave them a good pat. As I began the repairs, he offered his help which I denied, but I welcomed him to sit and watch. He is an older man now, and the hard work of farming is beginning to catch up to him. As I worked, he just started talking to me as he would talk to an old friend.
The wagon I was fixing was as old as he was. It carried memories of him as a child riding on the edge, helping his dad with the hay. He told me how his great-grandfather settled out here at the edge of the Shire. At that time, he was a big city man from Hobbiton marrying a simple farmer’s daughter. Their son built the farmhouse from a local quarry. And Farmer Maggot’s father built the wagon I’m repairing. A farmer’s heritage is tied to his land.
As I fixed the wagon, I stood up and shook his hand. This was my first time visiting Farmer Maggot’s farm, let alone even speaking with him. He is one of those fellows you avoid running into, since you just never know what kind of words will come out of his mouth. But today, he wasn’t as he seemed. He asked to pay me, which I quickly denied. But I couldn’t help but look beyond his shoulder at his lush tobacco fields.
Farmer Maggot is a little rough around the edges. He has a tendency to sound demanding and come across as shrewd. But he is a good farmer, and he cares for this land. It’s the little things in life that will make the biggest difference. I am sure that the next time I see Farmer Maggot, he will have something to say about how the times are changing. “It’s not the way it used to be, and Hobbiton folk don’t know their left from their right.” And I am still glad for my visit.
Robert is a farm boy that was inspired by the mystical tales of far-away places. He is on Facebook as Robert Hershey and Twitter @RobertnotBobby.