Sarah Beaugez | A Tribute to Freddy Kline

 

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Spring in the Delta is quite amazing. After the stark fields of winter, once spring planting begins, the landscape evolves into menagerie of green. Rice is one shade, wheat is ever-evolving shades of green and blue, soybean is yet another umbrage, while corn rounds out the color wheel of green.

 

It was a Saturday and Freddy needed to spray the corn for weeds. Of the two thousand acres of land in which Freddy farmed corn for Satterfield Farms, much of it surrounded Freddy’s shop in Benoit. The field is called the Ewing Place, named after the man who the land was bought from. On that day, he needed to spray weeds in one of those fields.

 

It always seems that the wind blew more in an open field than when we were in town. I suppose that only makes sense. That day was incredibly beautiful. Brilliant blue skies were the backdrop for corn that had been planted about a month before, rising a foot and a half out of the rich, Delta earth.

 

The corn behind the shop was planted in a north/south direction. The intersecting field just south was planted in wheat that ran east/west. The junction of the two was quite stunning and dramatic visually.

 

Before Freddy got on the tractor to spray, I said, “I want to shoot down a long row of corn from the dirt, but I don’t want to get dirty.” He didn’t say anything in regard to my city-girl mentality he just said he would take care of me not getting dirty. As always, his greatest asset, per his own assessment, was problem solving.

 

He went into the shop while I stood behind it trying to decide from what vantage point I would shoot. Freddy came out carrying an orange tarp. He started walking down the dirt road that allows access for all of the fields behind his shop. He said, “Tell me when to stop.”

 

I just let him walk while I followed. Finally I said, “That’s it. Just walk down that row until I tell you to stop, please.” He started down the row while I had to make up mind where to tell him to stop. About a third of the way down the row, I said, “That’s good. You can stop there.” He made sure the tarp was straight and that I could lie on the tarp and get the shot I wanted.

 

After he laid the tarp down, I walked toward my spot, while he exited the row. The wind was blowing, the sun was warm, and the green corn superimposed against a spring-blue sky, made for a perfect day. I got down on the tarp and just lay there looking at the sky. A few minutes passed and Freddy was on the John Deere tractor about three hundred yards from me.

 

The contrast of the John Deere green, a different green in the corn, the yellow and orange in the tank holding the weed spray on the tractor was quite a site to behold. It wasn’t long and I got a text from Freddy. He said, “Time me from one orange flag to the other.” Well, that sounded good but those flags were not very big. They were survey flags and I couldn’t see them very well.

 

Freddy started down the row while I turned on my trusty iPhone stopwatch. When he got to the end of the row, he texted me and said, “What did you get?” I said, “Nineteen seconds.” He said, “Nope. It was thirteen seconds.” I told him he could see, better than me, even with one eye.

 

While he sprayed, I shot down the row, and up the row of that beautiful corn, while always taking the opportunity to watch him on the tractor.

 

It was a day; a single day. It was always about paying attention to the little things. We did…