It’s tobacco harvest time. There’s an air of anticipation every minute of every day out here right now for me as I drive through the back roads and look out at the fields. The tobacco looks good – giant broad-leafed dark green plants. I wonder what a tobacco field smells like.
I’ve thought about just walking into someone’s field and checking it out, touching the plants and getting some good pictures. And I’ve gone so far as to drive deep into the country in order to do just that. I’ll find a good field and then realize that I cannot just traipse into someone’s field and start fondling their crops.
I tried to meet some farmers and go out into the fields with them as I am fascinated by seeing the tobacco harvest come in. But something in my gut says to let it go. The men who work these tobacco fields, at least the ones I’ve met in the only local bar for 20 miles in either direction, have their own culture and pace and ideas about things. I’ve met many kind souls and I’m not trying to say otherwise – it’s just that they simply don’t understand why in the world I’d want to come to the fields and see what it is they are doing. So I don’t press the issue.
And apparently, lots of illegal immigrants come here to work the fields, so if I showed up with a camera, everybody would disappear because they don’t want their pictures taken. No, you just don’t go around shooting snaps in the fields around here. So, I’m watching the tobacco harvest come in from an outsider’s perspective as I drive past in my car. One day a field I’ve been watching will be full and the next day, just bare red clay. Trucks loaded with crews amble down the back roads with sticks of tobacco leaves tied and stacked. Then they hang the tobacco up in barns to dry and smoke it.
As I drive along, I know when I’m coming up on a barn – I can smell it before I see it.