Between the Rows: Good Night and Joy Be to You All

Published online: May 03, 2022 Between the Rows Tyrell Marchant, Editor
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This column appears in the June 2022 issue of Potato Grower.

One of my favorite songs in all the world is the old Irish (or Scottish, depending on whom you ask) folk ballad “The Parting Glass.” It’s sung from the point of view of an apparently happy-go-lucky lad who, for some reason or other, is leaving his home turf for some new adventure. Now, in his moment of farewell, a wave of nostalgia is hitting him as he expresses his gratitude for all the people and experiences that have blessed him and helped shape him into who he is. The song is triumphant and resigned, sweet and bitter, joyously hopeful and heartbreakingly sad all at once. Sentimental in all the best senses of the word.  

Of all the money that ere I had,

I spent it in good company.

And of all the harm that ere I've done,

Alas was done to none but me.

After nearly nine years, the time has come for me to say goodbye to Harris Publishing and Potato Grower, and travel along a different professional route. I can’t guarantee the pastures will be any greener, but after a lot of prayer and serious discussion, this is a decision my amazing wife Krista and I feel is the best decision for our family. But you dadgum wonderful potato people made it a difficult one. There are a lot of people and a lot of things from this amazing industry I’ll spend a good amount of time missing.

So fill to me the parting glass

And drink a health whate’er befalls

Then gently rise and softly call,

Good night and joy be to you all!”

I came into this deal fresh out of college. The bosses here at Harris Publishing, for whatever reason, deemed it wise to place editorial responsibility of the most respected publication in the North American potato industry into the hands of a wide-eyed novice who grew up on a cattle ranch in the heart of Idaho’s potato country. “Want of wit”? Yep, that was me. I was offered guidance, but for the most part was expected to act like an adult and take ownership of my responsibilities. That approach helped me grow immensely on both a professional and personal level. I think, too, that they were placing their trust in the good people of the potato industry; I was decidedly not being thrown to the wolves.

Of all the comrades that ere I had,

They’re sorry for my going away…

I’m not sure how accurate it is to say that anyone in the potato industry is “sorry for my going away,” or how much I’ll be missed. But I can definitively in good conscience say I’ve enjoyed a lot of time “in good company” in the wonderful world of potatoes. And, cheesy as it may be to actually say, a sizeable piece of me has very much been molded by potato folk.

You’ve welcomed me with open arms into your conferences and board meetings; your trial plots and trade shows; onto your farms and into your very homes. I’ve shaken your hands and met your families and somehow been trusted with the telling of your stories.

I’ve had to suppress squeals of childish glee as I bounced down spud fields in the dusty cabs of pickups and semis and tractors. I’ve marveled at the futuristic technology, staggering business acumen, and unadulterated love for home and family put on full display in the potato industry, even as I’ve enjoyed the occasional front-row seat. Mud from the sacred ground you farm has adhered itself to my boots and made its way to my living room floor. And even as I’ve fetched the broom and dustpan to sweep it up, I’ve counted it a blessing.

But since it falls unto my lot

That I should rise while you should not,

I’ll gently rise and softly call,

“Goodnight and joy be to you all!”

From the St. Lawrence River in Quebec to the San Joaquin Valley in California; from Skagit County to Tampa Bay; from the Austin city limits to Flathead Lake and across the beloved high desert country of my native Snake River Plain, it has been a thrill, a pleasure, and a privilege to be a part, however small, of the potato industry. “Thank you” doesn’t do justice to what I owe all the incredible people with whom I’ve come in contact over the last several years, but it’s the honestly the best and most sincere this alleged wordsmith can muster: Thank you for your hospitality. Thank you for, month after month, reading this column. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. Good night and joy be with you all.