Not too far from Waxahachie is a little spot on the map that has a big place in my heart. Nestled between Hillsboro and Whitney, just northwest of Peoria, is a community called Bethel. During childhood, many families move and live in many different places but I only had this one. To say that stability was a staple in my life would be an understatement. We lived in a very simple, always pristine, but small country home on a hill inside a circle of tractors, farm equipment, cows and sand – lots of sand.
My daddy is a farmer and for over 30 years his primary crop was peanuts – Spanish reds, he would call them. In the fall, when I would be starting back to school, I remember riding the bus home and watching the dust follow like a billowing cloud of smoke but, once the dust settled, the smell of peanuts would sweeten the dry air.
I would go with my mom to sit in the truck waiting on the tractor pulling the combine to fill up another trailer. Just because school was over for the day didn’t mean that a farmer’s work was too. Momma had books and magazines for us to read or draw in but I never wanted to miss the action when the combine bucket was finally full, after what seemed like a million trips up and down the field rows and about to pour thousands of those perfect peanuts into the trailer. My sister and I would always beg to play in the trailers but momma never wanted us to for fear of snakes or being buried alive in a sea of peanuts.
I can remember Daddy waving to us from the tractor with each pass and sometimes even blowing a kiss to Momma and me – feeling on top of the world as his little girl sitting in the bed of our old pickup or laying in the seat, waiting for another trailer to fill and another trip to the peanut house. We would go to the local peanut plant in Whitney to empty and leave the peanuts for drying but tomorrow would be another day — up and down rows, filling and emptying trailers and farming the many pieces of land my dad all called a different name (Griff, Sandpit, Archer, Rosenbaum, Pete Harris). I’m sure these names all had a meaning but, to me, they were just names, often written on small pieces of torn paper towel left on the kitchen counter to tell me their location when I would get off the bus and walk to an empty house.
Spring, summer and fall were hectic for farming families in the rural parts of Hill County but, no matter how busy my dad was in the field, he always had time for me, my sister, my momma and others. Pastoring a church in Bethel for over 33 years, holding a community together while he held us and making sure that my childhood was everything it needed to be made me who I am today. Through the years, seasons may come and go but memories of tractors, trailers, sand and combines will always make me proud to be a peanut farmer’s daughter.