Soil Is Calling - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2247071

Soil Is Calling

In a book titled “In Old Southampton,” Abigail Halsey reminds us that in the early days of Southampton, “every man was a farmer and a fisherman.” But those days are long gone and most people, today, have no connection to the land and are unaware spring planting is underway. The days are longer, the temperature warmer and the frost is out of the ground. All along the back roads in Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, you’ll see farmers out there, with plow and planter going back and forth across the field, making straight rows in the rich dark soil, creating a seedbed for this year’s potato crop.

My husband, Benny, grew potatoes for over 50 years in Bridgehampton, as did his father before him. In memory of Benny and of our son, Teddy, I am sending in a poem that Teddy wrote when he was 16, “The Soil Is Calling,” in celebration of spring planting in 1997.

It happens each spring out on the East End.

Around 5:30 in the morning,

it’s time to get out of bed.

Early, dark, damp, cold,

but that’s the beauty of it.

Hey, Sporty, bacon, toast?

Breakfast is quick.

The soil is calling.

The red ’82 Chevy has been waiting

since November to go.

We shove off. Hats and gloves on,

It’s gonna bite, today.

The seed has already been cut.

The trucks are ready for war.

The barn door opens.

The tractors and trucks just wait there.

For an instant you feel

like the king of the world.

The key turns.

Nothing but a nice screech and a grind

Finally, it’s on.

The John Deere is barking and howling,

ready to hit the field.

The Chevy, the fertilizer and seed trucks,

and the planter are coming down.

Just a little ways from where

Mitchell meets Scuttlehole, we start up.

The seed is dumped into the planter,

the Deere growls up, almost ready.

The soil smells better than

anything could ever smell.

The cold makes you feel proud

that this is what you do.

The plow has already churned up a few furrows.

Boss, let’s get going.

The Deere pulls the planter,

the hydraulics lower down

and we move.

Down the row we go

just the dark soil, the sun and us.

No amount of money on earth

could ever match this feeling.

Never mind potato bugs, droughts, floods,

nematodes, blights or taxes.

Just breathing in the clean air

makes it all worth it.

For the first mornings of spring,

we rule the world.

It is work, but it is glory.

It happens each spring out on the East End.

Nancy Graboski

Juno Beach, Florida