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Written for folks living in rural communities. It is nothing profound, but simply observations by aunt and nephew.
I was familiar with the military salute, the Boys Scout salute and “V” for victory salute. However, when I married a farmer I learned about the “farmer salute.” The dictionary defines salute as, “1to show honor and respect, as by raising the hand to the forehead or by firing shots from a gun or 2 to greet in a friendly way, as by tipping the hat.” After being married to Ron for just a few weeks, I noticed that every time we met a pick-up truck on the road he’d raise his hand, extend his index finger and slowly move his hand toward the windshield.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“That was” and he’d tell me who was driving the truck. That happened every time we met a truck.
“Who was that?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” My quiet, shy husband answered.
“Then why did you wave?” Questions, questions, questions.
“I don’t know. Just wave at everyone, that way you don’t offend anyone.” He answered.
“Oh.” I responded. Sure enough I began to notice that the driver of every truck we met waved.
It wasn’t long afterwards that my seven-year-old nephew came for a short visit. Chris noticed the same greeting and tried to emulate his uncle. Ron, however, was oblivious to Chris’ actions.
“Aunt Judy,” Chris asked. “Why does Uncle Ron do that?”
“Do what?” I responded.
“That thing with his hand.” I still had no idea what he was talking about and asked him to explain.
“Well, we’d be riding along and all of a sudden he’d raise his hand and move it slow and easy like,” my observant nephew explained.
“Oh, that.” I replied. “That’s the farmer salute.”
“The what?” He questioned.
“The farmer salute. Every time Uncle Ron meets a pick-up truck he instinctively waves to the driver.”
“Even if he doesn’t know who it is?” The interrogation continued.
“Every time,” I answered.
It wasn’t long before I noticed that Chris was doing the same thing and I think he tried to teach my dad (who wasn’t a farmer) the salute.
“No, Grandpa. You have to move your hand slow and easy-like. Yeah. That’s it.”
I turned my head and smiled.
Chris is married now and I doubt he even remembers his visit that summer. I’m not sure he even remembers the “farmer salute.” But as you drive along the country roads, watch the farmers as they meet each other; you’re bound to see the farmer salute.
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