Editor of the Iowa Soybean Review

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Rural Route 2: Homecoming week

October 14, 2022 | Bethany Baratta

It’s homecoming week in our Central Iowa town. There are dress-up days, a pep rally and even a parade all leading up to the football game on Friday night. Some homes and acreages are “decorated” with toilet paper all in the spirit of homecoming.

Growing up, homecoming week was always so much fun. We’d use whatever was in our closet or in our homes to dress up and fit the theme. Sometimes it was a bit of a stretch. In elementary school, we sat cross-legged in the carpeted gymnasium as high school football players and cheerleaders led us in a pep rally. We’d beg our parents for homecoming pins so we could wear that school pride.

In high school, our classes were assigned a hallway to decorate to fit a theme. I especially remember the “Welcome to the Jungle” theme. I think there was a fog machine at play in our hallway somewhere. The week culminated with playing in the marching band, cheering on our football team, and a homecoming dance.

There’s an excitement this time of year in the town I’m from. It’s reflected at church, where farmers are beneficiaries of petitions. In conversations at the grocery store and gas stations, where farmers anxiously await conditions fit for harvest. At the local restaurant where a carryout order to take to the crew in the field turns into a longer stop because you’re talking about the weather, field conditions, equipment breakdowns, or harvest progress.

As I’ve grown up and moved away from home, homecoming takes on a bit different meaning. Though I’m still interested in the high school and colleges I attended, I think about the home farm the most when I think about homecoming.

From the large window off our dining room, I see soybean fields inching closer to harvest. Homes have blocked my full view of the fields through the years, but I see the changing fields through the “windows” created between the homes.

There’s extra traffic on the highway between home and the office these days with combines and tractors pulling grain carts. Instantly I think of my family, traversing between farm fields, the co-op, and other grain storage locations. I saw a prayer for them—and you too— that the harvest be bountiful, but most importantly safe.

As our son participates in dress up days and watches the parade with his classmates, I hope he’ll someday tie his excitement of the week to his agricultural roots. Someday, maybe he’ll understand why Mom drives a bit slower past a soybean field being harvested, or why she lingers a bit in the grocery store talking about the weather. For her, it was also homecoming week.