Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Hebron Crossroads 10-7
by Jeff Gill

Harvestime is all around us; the soybeans have gone from yellow to brown, the corn stalks tan from grey-green. With those transformations, the farm equipment is out in the fields not from dawn to dusk, but from can-do to can’t-any-longer.

In the fields around Hebron, coming home from late night meetings, I see headlights out in places where I know headlights can’t be. At home after what I like to think of as a long day, I’m seeing the harvesters out describing ever-decreasing rectangles in the fields behind our house, the floodlit arcs shortening and lengthening across the back window.

Folks, that’s the next step towards your corn flakes and tofu, your tortillas and organic plastics, feed for milk cows and beef cattle. As the bumper sticker says, “If you ate today, thank a farmer!” Just don’t try calling them at home the next few weeks.

A few recent conversations have pointed out to me that not everyone knows what’s going on out in those dustplumed combines by day and brightly lit harvesters at night. Harvest is when the farmers go out in fields and start “bringing in the sheaves,” so to speak. Right now the corn and soybeans are ready for harvest, but wheat and hay have come in weeks ago for many, and the pumpkin crop I think we all know just came ripe.

The trick with corn and beans is the moisture content: too much water content and the crop could rot in storage, increasing the necessary expense of drying, but wait too long for everything to get good and dry, and you run an increased risk of storms flattening the plants so that mechanical harvesting can’t work. There’s more to it than this brief description indicates, but the point to keep in mind is that timing harvest is just as tricky – or just as much of a science mixed with luck, if you like – as planting. Too early, too late. . .too bad.

Ohio doesn’t need riverboat gambling or an expansion of the lottery when we’ve already got farming!

Devine Farms had a great first weekend of “pumpkin season,” and Martha Fickel had the Drama Club gang out running the concessions for Ralph and Charla as a fund raiser. You’ll recognize the hot dog makers and cider pourers from “The Music Man” and “Guys and Dolls” down at Lakewood High, or you will recognize them when you go see “A Christmas Carol” later on this year.

The corn maze is a little smaller than some of the multi-acre works of art around Licking County you’ve seen featured in these pages. If you have a four year old, that’s a good thing!

Chris ran up and down the blind alleys and roundabouts with glee, looking a bit confused at times, but quickly reassured by a glance over his shoulder to confirm Dad was still there and smiling. Dad, of course, could look so confident because he could see the barn roofs over the top of the corn stalks, and from his better vantage point stayed oriented. The little guy could only see corn (or “cown” as he regularly shouted), but trusted the big guy to not let him get too far lost.

Obvious metaphor alert. . .i’ll just let you fill in the rest of that meditation.

We don’t normally cross-promote between the Booster and the Advocate, even though we’re corporate cousins, but this is really just a trip out to the recycle bag in the garage for many of you. Last Sunday (Sept. 29), on page 5D, John Skinner had a great old story about Hebron and Henry Clay back in the early 1800’s.

He references “the Licking Arms, a hostelry in Hebron” as the location for a tale of duels, derring-do, and dauntlessness. You’ll have to find the article to get the whole story, but Henry Clay certainly could have stayed the night in pre-Civil War Hebron; he’s featured on historical markers all along both the National Road from Wheeling to Columbus, and down the Zane Trace, such as on the marker in Tarleton between here and Chilicothe.

You should remember Clay from your American History classes as one of the early great Congressional figures, a man who would “rather be right than President,” and who along with Daniel Webster helped negotiate the Missouri Compromise, but later came down solidly as anti-slavery, dooming his chances for the White House in the 1840’s and 50’s.

This and other stories may soon be told in cases within the lobby of the Hebron Municipal Complex, as Larry Rodgers of the Hebron Historical Society and Mike McFarland are working at providing some display space and artifacts there. We’ll let you know as those plans develop, or you can just drop in on their meetings on the first Monday of the month at 7:30 pm in the Masonic Building on N. High St.

The first 50 years of Hebron were wild and wooly ones, and there are many more stories to be told about these Hebron Crossroads!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and a semi-professional pumpkin carver. If you have recipes for roast pumpkin seeds or other seasonal delicacies, send them to disciple@voyager.net or call 928-4066.