Signs of Harvest

I know that the fruit harvest is starting where we are.

Leaving work last night, by the time I was a mile out of the small town where my office is, I had seen five white passenger vans carrying workers, each with two big yellow-and-red Igloo water coolers attached to the front grille.

Two miles out of town, well into the stretch of road entirely lined with vineyards and orchards, I saw that there had been harvesting going on in an orchard that day. There was a taco truck parked along the orchard, and some yards down the road, a pickup truck with a trailer with a porta-john on it.

In the morning, I had seen the latest two in what sums to an uncountable number of semis carrying boxes from the local box factory to a local packinghouse. The trailers are always double-stacked with pallets, with clear plastic sheeting over everything. Each pallet of unconstructed boxes has one flat box displayed on its side, to show what the pallet contains. This makes spotting the trucks fun, because if you know a few fruit labels, you usually know where the boxes are going. If you don’t recognize the label, just knowing who’s down the road in the direction the truck is going will often tell you.

There are refrigerated trucks leaving the packinghouses, too, pulling out with wide swings onto the road, the first turn of a long trip to Somewhere Else where people also want fruit.

In the winter, there are four-by-four plastic bins of oranges stacked on the tractor-trailers, looking like some sort of agricultural Legos. In the summer, those bins hold peaches, nectarines or grapes. In the fall, you see processing tomatoes in big open hoppers on their way to canneries. Carrots by the hundreds of thousands travel the highways in metal-mesh sided trailers.

Sometime soon, there will be a morning when on my way to work, I will get stuck behind a farm tractor hauling a long, low trailer with two steps on each side, each step full of buckets that are precariously full of peaches. The driver will be taking it very easy, not wanting to bruise the fruit. I will not mind being stuck behind this tractor.

I will not be able to help but smile at the swaying, jiggling buckets of juicy peaches, and I will hope that none of them fall off on their way to be packed.

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