Monday, February 22, 2016

The Smell of Diesel in the Morning

Amen!!! And diesel!!! People think I'm crazy but it always reminds me of Daddy. -Debi Tolar Ringer

Springtime always came early in the Delta, it seemed.

Early in March, I would drag myself from my warm bed in the Old House, dress, and trudge the forty or fifty feet out to the shed where Daddy and Red Paul would be fueling the tractors.

The chill morning air would fill my lungs as I walked, and sting my cheeks, and by the time I reached the John Deere 4430, I would be awake.

I cranked the tractor and heard the familiar clatter of the idling diesel. The diesel smell was oily and black in my nostrils as the black smoke hanging low and heavy in the morning air.

Reflecting the low-rising sun, dew sparkled in like diamonds in the patches of grass dotting the pale tan earth.
Moving out, I looked behind me and down at the divots left by the cleats of the tires in the soft ground.

I drove to the far 60, next to the railroad track bordering Lexa.

I hit the power-lift and the disk made a satisfying soft crunch as the  blades bit into the loamy soil and began to turn it over onto itself, the earth underneath a rich dark brown.

And I could smell it. The odor of freshly-turned earth. It contained the promise of new life; life springing from ground disked, harrowed, and planted.

There would be long straight rows of cotton here soon, pale green leaves rustling in the warm breezes of June and after that, in late September or early October, fields white like snow.

After the harvest, late fall sliding into early winter, the disk would come again; this time turning the bare stalks under for winter's rains, frosts and freezes, returning to the earth some of the nutrients taken from it in the growing season.

All that was half a year away or more.

For now there was the diesel smell and the rich scent of freshly turned earth.

I've smelled nothing like it, before then or since.

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