I don’t know most of the details of this story. How much did the combine cost? A lot. What crop was Dad combining? Corn or beans. What field was he combining? The north sixty acres, that we called the Pacey place. What date, or time of day? Who knows? Daylight, in the fall, when Dad was more than 75 years old. Someone may remember or have a record. What caused the fire? Could have been several different things. Dad had a fire extinguisher. I don’t know whether he tried to use it and finally had to give up. No matter. The big expensive John Deere combine burned up. Dad got off of it before he became a casualty. That was the most important part of the story, of course.
The other important thing about it was what Dad said afterward, “It was getting harder for me to climb up the ladder to the cab anyway.” Such equanimity. Such acceptance. Not just resignation to a fate that couldn’t be changed. He expressed some relief, a bright side, a positive outcome. I think he was actually grateful. After that he could hire someone else to do that job. He didn’t have to use that monster machine anymore, just because he had paid for it, invested in it, and needed to use it for the harvest. As much as he loved farming, some aspects of it had become a burden for a man who had started to farm shortly after he learned to walk. Good riddance to operating a combine, maintaining it, fixing it, climbing up and down on it.
There is not a bright side to everything. Often we are surprised to find it in an unexpected place, but there it is. Sometimes we can even say appropriately, “Burn, baby, burn!”