stories and illustration

Harvesting 2013 Harvesting 1940 (Artist’s Impression)


Great machines are shouldering their way down the narrow border roads at this time of year, their sound heralded by what seems a shaking of the earth. I am walking through the little wood above the barley field next to the Tweed, and I think I see rain on the horizon, which is strange because it is a fine day, if cloudy.  Then I think it is smoke, like when that ambulance caught fire last year due to an electrical fault, the heavy dark smoke of which I could see over the horizon.  But this smoke is a fawn colour, and as I continue down the path I hear a thunder of machinery, which make me feel insecure, as this is a tiny path. Though reason tells me, yes, it is a tiny path.  You won’t get machines down here.  Then as I come past the copse where the rabbits run, and the long tailed tits hang out, chittering like truants, a large machine comes cruising noisily down on the other side of the hedge, and I cotton on that the harvesting of these fields has begin:


There are different machines in the field. The crop is cut in wide swathes. The source of the smoke (or dust clouds) is the big machine on the other side of the field. The Main Machine:


As I walk down the path I look down at the still unharvested barley field below, where the heads of the barley, when I walked there yesterday, were heavy and hanging, no longer swaying in the wind:


August is turning towards September, and scarcely any flowers remain, only the husks and seeds of flowers:


The big machine is turning back towards where I am, having cut the top line of the field. I decide to try and take a picture of it as it approaches. As I hear its rumble coming towards me, a black dog runs up behind me, and a small rabbit runs across the path, scared of the dog (which doesn’t notice it) and me. Hopefully the very small rabbit will scuttle way from the approaching machine as well, or turn down the small patch of undergrowth between the field and the path. The machine approaches, and I lean out and watch it:







Walking on down through the high path I come out on the lane which leads back up to the road.  I see tracks on this lane that stretch from one side to the other, and So I listen hard, because I do not want to meet one of these giant machines coming towards or behind me, as there would be nowhere to escape. Back out on the road, I look back at the half-reaped field:harvest19


It really does feel like the turning of the year.  Quite by chance I see in a Postcript catalogue a lithograph by John Nash called Harvesting:


Lithograph by John Nash.

What a different scene.  The bicycles against the hedge (alack for the rabbits, or maybe the hares), the boys idling, the strange shape of the cut crop, the dogs, the lovers leaning against the rick, the energy and human involvement in the scene,  let alone the difference in the way of cutting the field. This lithograph  was made in 1940 as part of the Pictures for Schools project, and even taking into account artistic license, this is a very different, so much more communal a scene than is the case nowadays with these big machines, which just deal with the fields, and then go on their way, so that strangely, for all their bulk, they are hardly noticed.

The next day the heavy clouds are low on the horizon, the fields are cut, crows and pigeons are in the stubble. Next it will be the ploughing, and the new crops put into the earth. The year is on the turn towards autumn.

August 28, 2013 - Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Cara superb pictures enjoy reading your post as always.


    Comment by doronart | August 28, 2013 | Reply

  2. Lovely blog, enjoyed looking through, and your description of mowing was so effective I could feel the hayfever coming on!


    Comment by nexi | August 28, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks for enjoying my blog, hope the hay fever was over in a passing second. I thought all that dust would give me asthma but it had no effect at all. I really liked your pictures of Tewkesbury, some lovely vignettes, made me want to amble round the place myself.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | August 29, 2013 | Reply

  3. Enjoyed reading your interesting post, and am off for a wander round some more of your blog…which I have come across thanks to your like on my blog! 🙂


    Comment by suej | August 29, 2013 | Reply

    • I enjoyed that blue and yellow blog of yours, lovely and ingenious pictures. I also enjoyed your blog on bees, as I too have been pleased to see so many more this year. Thanks for visiting my blog.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | August 29, 2013 | Reply

  4. Thanks for becoming a Follower. Happy blogging.


    Comment by lensandpensbysally | September 3, 2013 | Reply

    • Thanks. I really enjoyed looking at your photographs and reading your blog, and look forward to following it.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | September 3, 2013 | Reply

  5. I found this lovely post by chance, Cara, and enjoyed your reflections on the harvest. It’s that time of year again. The litho by John Nash is delightful.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Tokens of Companionship | August 21, 2019 | Reply

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