Ahhhh rice harvest again.
A year on and we are a year wiser.
After last year’s debacle with the skinny metal home-fashioned rice drying legs that buckled and bent and broke and sank and took out a car jack as collateral damage (what we lack in know-how we make up for in out-of-the-box thinking), anyway, after all that, we decided that maybe rather than trying to reinvent a very well-functioning and time-tested wheel we should just get us some of those wooden rice drying stakes all the other farmers use.
It seems drying rice in the sun is a dying art with the all-powerful JA rice drying centres and industrial sized combine harvesters pushing the wooden stakes and straw ropes aside. There are little bunches of beautifully-tied and squared and covered rice drying poles scattered around our neighbourhood’s sheds and barns. Practically begging to be used again.
But, while my dear old-fashioned husband has never read Shakespeare, he shares Polonius’s loathe of borrowing and lending and baulks at the merest hint of me casually enquiring whether old Mr M would mind lending us his dusty cobwebby drying poles that have been ever so neatly stacked against his shed undisturbed for all eight years we’ve lived here.
Nope. Absolutely not.
He did magnanimously agree to putting an ad in the local paper’s classified section asking if anyone had any poles they no longer needed that we could come and collect. Yes!
Our local paper is an enigma to me. Everyone seems to read it. Everyone but me, anyway. It has a page devoted to each village and town in the area, features on super-sized agricultural produce, school excursions, kinder events, recipes and even a haiku corner.
They even have a box-ad inviting people to call the paper for a journalist/ photographer to come out and document your event.
So, we bought a paper to see how to submit an ad.
Easy! Online ad submission.
We carefully worded our ad and pressed send.
And send again.
And again from a different computer.
The next morning K called the paper.
“We tried to submit an ad through your website ad submission form?”
“Ahhhh it doesn’t work. What would you like to submit?”
And so we got our ad submitted.
How much would it cost?
The first submission is free. And if you get no response within two weeks you get to resubmit for free.
And when would our ad be published?
Ahhhh, sometime within the next two weeks?
Yes. Nothing more concrete than ‘sometime within the next two weeks’.
Completely understandable, really. Because you see the paper likes to keep a good balance between items wanted and items free to a good home so keeps our ad until there is an imbalance in the ‘wa' super complicated Japanese harmony of the classified section or something.
Other than buying the paper every day for the next two weeks how were we going to know if our ad came out? Was this some kind of cunning free-classified-for-newspaper-purchase marketing genius?
Well, we didn’t have to wait long to find out how we would know when the ad came out as a mere two days later the phone rang.
It was rather a pleasant anti-climax to realize it was an answer to our ad as phonecalls at that time of the morning send me into a panic imagining catastrophic events befalling my nearest and dearest but nope, it was a farmer.
A very chatty farmer.
Twenty minutes later we had ascertained his address (40 minutes away), his offer (6 six-metre poles and accompanying legs) his preferred pick-up time 5:00 am Saturday (Say wha??) and a whole lot of history about his rice farming experiences. K is really not the chatty type and was physically squirming by the final final goodbye. Phewwww! We have rice-drying poles!
Ring ring ring!
Phonecall number two.
And then three.
Five before K left for work at 8:00.
Another two more during the day.
And one the next day and then phone silence.
Wow. I guess people who get the local paper read it early and quickly, hey?
So, Saturday dark and early (it was too early for bright and early) K set off with his list of houses, his maps and GPS and oodles and oodles of homemade muesli biscuits wrapped up in culturally appropriate decorated bags tied off with cute matching ribbons as token thank you’s.
And all day he was back and forth with our poor long-suffering k-truck weighed down with rice drying poles of all shapes and sizes and running the whole spectrum of stability from completely worm-riddled and rotten (waste-not-want-not- perfect firewood) to mint condition.
But not just rice drying poles.
Some combination of muesli biscuits, K’s earnest demeanor and old farmers getting nostalgic about people still doing things the old-fashioned way brought out the Christmas Spirit a few months early.
At the end of the weekend we had accumulated more than twice the poles we needed.
And a metal rack for holding poles and the corrugated iron sheeting for waterproofing.
And a 100 kilo scale.
Three different rice paddy leveling tools. (The old-fashioned push kind.)
And 50 frost tunnel making plastic hoops.
And about the same of long plastic coated garden stakes.
And three large soybean-drying metal containers.
And two pitch-forks- from the same person.
What a weekend!
Poor K. You’d think that was the end of the story, right?
His boss from work saw the ad and accosted him Monday morning. “Fukase! Why didn’t you ask me for poles? I’ve got plenty! Come around next Saturday. 7:00am?”