Mamma was wearing her bonnet and daddy was wearing his hard-shell hat as they stripped the dry ears of corn from the stalks. The John Deere tractor was “put-putting” loudly, almost drowning daddy’s voice when he yelled to Pat to push the clutch lever forward to slowly move the tractor and wagon. Pat obeyed, with all the confidence of a five-year-old. When daddy yelled “Whoa!” she pulled the lever back and the tractor stopped. She was beaming as she watched ears of dried corn being tossed into the wagon. She felt so grown-up. She was helping gather corn by driving the tractor! Her older sister, Gayle, didn’t want to drive it. She was nineteen months older than Pat, but she had rather pull the ears off the stalks and toss them into the wagon.
Pat’s attention began to wane. She watched a black and yellow butterfly fluttering from stalk to stalk. It came to land on mamma’s dress and Pat knew that meant mamma would get a new dress, because she had told Pat so.
Sweat began to trickle from Pat’s bangs down to her cheek. It tickled and she rubbed it off with her hand, leaving a dirty smudge.
Daddy was calling out for her to move the wagon forward again, bringing her mind back to the present. Driving the tractor was fun, but she was getting distracted. Her stomach began to rumble and she thought of mamma cooking dinner. How could mamma cook dinner if she was gathering corn?
After a few more minutes daddy climbed up on the tractor and slid onto the seat, pulling Pat onto his lap. Mamma and Gayle were climbing into the wagon.
“You did a dandy job, Gal,” daddy said grinning. “ When you get a little older, you can ride on here and sew vetch seed for me, while I drive. You can be the ‘ little boy’ I never had.”
“I ain’t no BOY, Daddy!” Pat chided.
Daddy chuckled, “Just my ‘tom boy', Pat. Just my ‘tom boy'.” Daddy guided the tractor and wagon under the shed and stopped, shutting off the motor. Mamma and Gayle were climbing out of the wagon.
“You and Gayle go help your mamma fix dinner. After we eat and rest a while, we’ll shuck and shell some of the corn,” daddy said.
In the kitchen mamma began to peel red potatoes to fry. A pot of purple hull peas already sat on the stove. Mamma had cooked them earlier while she was cooking breakfast.
After washing their face and hands Gayle set the table while Pat got out the bowl for mixing cornbread. When mamma had the potatoes frying she mixed the cornmeal and buttermilk while Pat brought her an egg for the batter. Having an iron skillet heating with grease, Mamma poured the batter in. Pat heard the sizzling sound that she loved. Next, mamma cut thick slices of salt pork to fry and Gayle laid them in another skillet. A tantalizing aroma filled the kitchen, making Pat’s mouth water. Dinner was almost ready. Pat hoped that she didn’t have to take a nap afterwards.