A few evenings ago, on the first of September actually, I spent a pleasurable hour choosing these photos and creating this mosaic. It was to be my “hello September, good-bye to summer” mosaic. I was just going to post the mosaic, no words. But I didn’t get to the uploading of the photo that evening and went to bed early instead.
The next morning, as I was getting dressed, I heard a plane fly overhead, much louder and lower than the occasional one we usually hear. When the roar of it came back again in a few minutes, I ran to the window and looked out to see a bright yellow crop-duster swooping low over the field next to the field next to us. Doug was outside by this time, watching in surprise as the plane circled round and round, roaring low over the trees at the edge of our land, dumping its load of chemicals on the soybeans growing next door.
All plans for our usual summer breakfast on the porch gone, I closed our windows and hoped, tho’ I knew it was illogical, that the plane wouldn’t be doing the field that borders our land on the north, the field you can see behind me in the photo of the yellow mullein flowers. We are somewhat used to the huge, insect-like chemical sprayers rumbling over the fields next to us now and then through the growing season. We close our windows for awhile, think of all the connections it brings up to so many serious and troubling issues…and then we put it to the back of our minds again.
But this big yellow mosquito, looking undeniabley attractive against the bright blue sky, it was something new. And it brought everything front and center again. And as the plane shifted its course and began to buzz over our house, and as I watched the field that lies right next to ours receive its chemical rain, and as I saw the drift of spray mist over our hedgerow and hay-way drive, the tears began to fall.
Just that morning, I had posted these pictures at Wisteria & Sunshine and couldn’t help but compare all that is represented in the photos of my ancestors farming with what we have experienced a hundred years later in this very rural county that we are privileged to call home. In more than twenty years, I’ve never seen the farmer who rents that land walk upon it. I don’t know who he is. I don’t know if he would care to know how we feel about what happens on the land next door…in the rest of our county…our country…the world.
But I do care, and deeply. I just don’t know what to do with all of the feelings, beyond the small ways we’ve always used. I wish I would get more angry than sad, that might help.
I just don’t know.
So the mosaic went unshared. Because I knew I couldn’t just post it now…with its idyllic-looking photos. Those photos are true and real, in one sense, but they don’t always tell the whole story. That noble, beautiful mullein that I embraced in June, was a burned, brown stalk come July when the field it bordered was sprayed with weed-killer after the spring grain was harvested and before the gmo-soybeans were planted. The organic rose spritzer that I sipped as the sun went down on our little terrace was accompanied by the sound of the kitty litter plant three miles away whose drying drums grumble across the miles with their loads of mined clay. And I can never watch the sun set there anymore without wondering when the trees that have made western view for all of these years will be next on the logging list as the woods all around us get leveled.
Another reason I didn’t post was because I knew that I would now need to accompany those photos with words…the words above…and I worried what a reader whose family farms conventionally might say in response. Or someone who disagrees with me about gmos. Even tho’ I am not an ignorant romantic about land issues. I’ve been paying attention to them for decades now. I do understand how agriculture has arrived at this place and why so many farms work this way. I do. But I Feel these issues lately, I don’t Think them so much. And I don’t want arguments or debates, to be honest. In between the tears, I did cry out to my husband “This is messed up! I don’t know what this is, growing gmo crops on chemically-drenched land for factory-raised animals, but it’s not farming!”. And that is what I feel…and it is what I know.
Yet I still wasn’t ready to say it here. But then I read Melissa’s post (belatedly…our rural internet is another issue!) and opened up this blogging window and began writing. I am “blogging fresh” today. With apologies to anyone I might offend, but not for what I feel or believe. There are other ways we could be farming and growing and living. I want us to figure out how to get on with those ways. I want more of us to do more than love and appreciate the land and nature. I want us to fight for her and protect her…pay attention and make connections…seek understanding and solutions…
But now I am going to just click “publish”, without editing, and go and hang out the wash…where I will look out upon a mosaic of land…weedy and wild, tidy and toxic, untouched and tamed…with a mosaic of feelings inside me.