This is a great picture. It reminds me of my dad...AND my mom. I'll explain. My dad grew up in a very rural eastern Washington. I was born there and have a few patchy pictures in my head of living there. Most of my only real memories of the place are from the yearly vacations we took to visit family. I remember it being empty, peaceful and quite beautiful. We would drive down the road and see miles of fields. Each one growing something different. My dad would name each crop as we drove by, "asparagus... corn... alfalfa... potatoes...". I loved watching the rows as we drove. If you looked straight at them they would all line up for a millisecond and you could see down one row forever. My favorite thing was getting sprayed by the huge sprinklers on the end of a water line as you sped by in your car. I still like that by the way, it just never happens that much any more. Anyway, I remember seeing my dad on big, huge, strange-looking machines that were neither truck nor robot. I knew they had a purpose because I would see them in the fields going up and down, making trails in the crop. I heard the word combine all the time and didn't really understand. I don't know if he ever drove this kind of machine but when I found this paper on the counter this morning I had a flashback. I remembered my dad coming home from work all dirty and sweaty. I remembered him calling out the names of the crops in the fields, and I remembered getting my car drenched by a huge over-sized sprinkler spraying the road.
It was when I asked Sam why he brought this picture home that I was snapped in to another picture. More recent and less romantic. Sam told me that he got this picture from his teacher who used it to illustrate what a "context clue" is in reading. Sam pointed to the small explanations of each part of the combine, "These help you understand what this is, like context clues help you understand in reading." I smiled. My mom would be so proud. My mom was a first-grade teacher for much of the time I grew up. Four of my sisters had her as their teacher so she taught them how to read. She would come home from work talking about thematic thinking and how today was cloud day. She would read Huckleberry Finn to us on our way to Washington long before cars ever had DVD's or even videos. She talked of Reading Recovery and could sing a children's song about any subject (and believe me, we tried to stump her). So Sam didn't get why I enjoyed it so much. He acted confused and wanted to just throw the paper away. I picked it up and I in a funny little way, like so many times in life when you just don't expect it, was reminded of who I was and where I came from. And I was proud.