By Holley Trent, author of Emerald Springs Legacy: Colleen’s Choice (coming from Crimson Romance March 3, 2014!)
“You’ve got to look at this from Joe’s perspective,” Sheila whispered when Sam had ducked into the mudroom to remove his muddy boots at his hostess’s request.
She passed a large WhitSand Farm cabbage from one hand to the next and raised one eyebrow at her husband.
“Come on. Give it to me,” Richard said with a sigh.
Sheila handed him the cabbage. “I was going to cook it, but—”
“No!” He plopped the vegetable onto the cutting board. “Not the cabbage. The unvarnished truth, I meant.”
She tucked her hands into her sweater’s kangaroo pocket and worried at her bottom lip for a moment. “Okay. Naturally, this is amateur psychology on my part, but Joe is like this…” She rested her right palm atop of the cabbage.
He let his forehead furrow. “He’s a winter vegetable?”
“No,” she said with a laugh. “He’s traditional. We eat cabbage every New Year’s Day because it’s supposed to bring us luck, right?”
He nodded. He didn’t know where his wife was going with her metaphor, but he had no problem admitting she was the smarter of the two of them. He’d let her run with it.
“Well, Joe does what he does because of tradition, too. He’s the son and grandson of farmers. What he knows he learned from them, and he didn’t see anything wrong with the way his folks ran their farm.”
“But his folks were like mine. They didn’t go to college. College was supposed to teach us how to do things smarter. To expand on the knowledge we have and profit from it. That’s what I want to do with the tea.”
She nodded. Naturally, she already knew this. “What was Joe’s major, sweetheart?”
“His major?” Richard fidgeted the dishtowel tucked into his apron string. “The same thing I majored in. Agriculture.”
Her smile was serene as she shook her head. “You’ve sat on the opposite side of his desk hundreds of times, and you never noticed your best friend’s diploma was issued in political science?”
He opened his mouth to rebut, but his wife’s cocked eyebrow gave him pause.
He and Joe had been in all the same agriculture classes freshman year of college, but after that, their schedules had diverged. He’d assumed Joe had just been in different sections of the same courses.
“Why would he change his major?” he asked.
She opened the closest drawer and extracted a serrated knife from the organizer. She nudged him aside and sawed the cabbage head in half. “I think the better question is why would he major in something he thought he was already an expert in?”
“Because the business is always changing.”
She clucked her tongue and pointed to the cabbage she was preparing. “Tradition. Joe’s not going to buck it.” She shredded the cabbage and tossed it into a heavy skillet atop a slick of melted butter.
“You’re not going to boil it?”
“Not this year. Figured I’d try something new with the old tradition.” She picked up a pair of tongs and moved the shreds around the pan. “I think it’ll be just close enough to the familiar dish that the kids won’t make faces. You have to change things a little bit at a time, you know? Maybe next year I’ll add sausage. In five years, maybe it’ll turn into soup, but no one will be able to remember when the change started.”
Yeah. She was definitely the smarter one, but it was too late to be tentative. He didn’t have five years to talk his friend out of complacency, not if he wanted to get in on the ground floor of the next big thing.
He didn’t know what it would mean for the farm if Joe wouldn’t adapt, but he knew one thing. Farming wasn’t about feelings. Obviously Joe had understood that more than two decades ago when he’d changed his major without even a word to his best friend.
Check back next week for the final installment in the Emerald Springs Legacy prequel!