Friday, August 31, 2012

Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

There's a book up on the shelf about the dust bowl days
And there's a little bit of you and a little bit of me

In the photos on every page.....nancy griffith

To say that Care and Concern have been constant companions would not be an overstatement.   We all talk a good game, keeping the proverbial stiff upper lip, Are we not the psychological godchildren of American Gothic?  In an ordinary year, we  are the repressive thin lipped spirits of an eleventh commandment beloved of second grade teachers: 'thou shalt have no fun"...before me or after I leave or while my back is turned.   In a voting year, we are caricatures for the media and opinion makers.We take the future seriously; we answer the phones for pollsters. We are likely voters.
But in a drought year, a disaster year, that back bone, that set chin, that 'knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it' spirit is sum and substance heroic.  American Gothic small town small mindedness morphs magically into the fortitude of our forefathers. All our faults are in our favor. Without the innate recognition that 'man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,' we couldn't ruefully, humorously sport bumper stickers that proclaim S*** Happens....with a smiley face.  

Have you seen the folks in line downtown at the station
They're all buying their ticket out and talking the great depression
Our parents had their hard times fifty years ago
When they stood out in these empty fields in dust as deep as snow....nancy griffith
That Dust Bowl generation is passing on; those tough, yearning thin faces of survival, famously photographed on roadsides and door steps, refugees, but not quitters, who took the hard step of leaving homes,land. and livelihood, who left even hope behind, but persevered finally to tell the tale and plant their roots so their children could have children and tell the tales and plant the signs for their Century Farms.   
Now our children live in the city and they rest upon our shoulders
They never want the rain to fall or the weather to get colder...

No doubt we farmers have lost much of the sympathy vote from our neighbors in the city.  Climate controlled machinery and the latest in electronics; auto pilot, technologically manipulated seed and the insistence that we are intelligent businessmen, JUST LIKE THEY ARE, have pushed the ancestral fear of famine and shortages back into the caves from which we emerged.  Heaping glories of juicy fruits, crisp and peppery greens, mouth watering meats and fragrant breads line aisles of  giant food emporiums.......or farmers' markets for those with the smaller is better predilection.  They are always there; the shelves are always full.  Who sits down and ponders the past while they choose which coffee they will grind and brew for their morning cup?  Farmers do.  Believe me, in years of drought, our morning commute is Chinese water torture in reverse; watching the color drain from the landscape until the ground, the sky, the leaves, the grass, and the crops are the self same washed out hue of 80 year old photographs.  People food may be abundant in the stores, but when the fields are bare and the ponds dry, life is a struggle for livestock.  Modern day agriculture can mitigate but cannot abolish shortages of hay, grain, water.  

And all this trouble in our fields
If this rain can fall, these wounds can heal
They'll never take our native soil......nanci griffith

Our native soil has been cracked since May.  The corn manned up and stood tall through more of July than we could have imagined.  No more.  No healthy gold of stalks that matured in season; the rows are battered brown or even more devastating blackened stubs more reminiscent of burned over forest than amber waves of grain.  Indeed, this season of wildfires out West is well matched to the wavering heat waves hovering over our barren fields.  But our soil is at home, bound by ties of last year's roots, ready and waiting to absorb the saving rain.  Our dust bowl is reduced to the rime of lime from our gravel road. Try as it might, the wind can suck the moisture from man and beast...but our irreplaceable soil, our dowry, our retirement, our annuity, our true Social Security, stays put. 

When the rains finally fall....and they will......the fields will heal. 
And we will commit this dreadful season to memory....and our own Dust Bin of History.

1 comment:

  1. 1.35 inches in our rain gauge today - 9-13. on top of the 10 inches we got a month ago. Hopefully no more drought in our lifetimes- although that's wishful thinking.