Harvest memories come to life in picture book

If you’ve picked potatoes by hand in Aroostook County, you understand the significance of this quote: “This is Wayne Knight on the Potato Picker’s Special. Looks like a great day out there. Everybody’s going right on time.”

If those words are familiar, you probably remember waking before dawn, waiting in the cold for the farmer’s truck and struggling to keep up as you filled basket after basket of potatoes in your rows and dumped them into barrels.

You might even remember your personal record for barrels picked in a day.

These are the kinds of memories that inspired Fort Fairfield native Pete Robinson to create words and images portraying his potato picking experience in a slick little book titled “Harvest Time: A Day in the Life of Picking Potatoes.”

“If you grew up in Aroostook County, you remember getting out of school in the fall to pick potatoes,” he writes. “I didn’t realize what a unique experience that was until I moved away and told people about it.”

A 1989 University of Maine graduate with a degree in engineering, Robinson lives in Pawcatuck, Connecticut, where he is a financial advisor for First Financial Advisory Services, based in Rhode Island. He returns to Aroostook County as often as he can and says that when he travels north on Route 1A and crests the hill overlooking the vast fields of Fort Fairfield, “I know I am home.”

The feel of that landscape radiates from the illustrations in “Harvest Time.” The sun makes a yellow edge of a gray horizon, emerging like an egg yolk while the moon is still high and three boys await an approaching truck. As the sun rises, the horizon becomes a burst of fall colors and the boys are assigned their rows.

The Fiddlehead Focus / St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “Harvest memories come to life in picture book,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Kathryn Olmstead, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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