From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ready for a Rainy Day

Corn harvest begins   



I took this photograph about a month ago. I had stopped, late in the afternoon, at a roadside vegetable stand that is operated by an old-order Mennonite family. Mama was minding the stand, while the men and boys were bringing in the hay from the fields. I felt it would be rude to photograph the lady and her little produce stand, but I did drive down the road a little way and take this picture through my car window.

I thought about the things that Mennonite family was doing that hot afternoon. The little, box-like, vegetable stand must have felt like an oven as the late afternoon sunshine poured under the awning. And the men in the field must have been sweltering, as they pitchforked the hay into the wagon. The horse was probably very hot, too.

Some very nice-looking cantaloupes and watermelons were sitting in full sun, in a wagon next to the produce stand. I figured they had been baking there all day, so I chose a cantaloupe that didn't look as ripe as most. Later that evening, I cut into it and found that it was not ripe at all. I had to throw it away! With the Mennonites and me both trying to compensate, that melon didn't get enough hot sunshine.

The thing that I notice now about this photograph is that the stubble in the field is quite green. Christian County (KY) was getting a little dry even in mid-July, but after another month of extremely hot temperatures and precious little rain, it is now very dry. Lawns, mowed fields, and grazed pastures have developed a sickly brown complexion. The trees are dropping their leaves prematurely. Today, I noticed that a neighbor's field of soybeans is wilting.

I heard on the radio that the extreme heat and the lack of rain is affecting the produce farmers too. Tomatoes are not developing the bright-red color that customers want, grapes are not as colorful as they should be, and melons are small and sunburned. That news didn't surprise me much, because I know how my garden is struggling, even with fairly regular waterings.

Tomorrow, we have a 60% chance of rain. Some of the farmers were combining corn today, trying to get it harvested before it gets wet. They want its moisture content to be as low as possible. Tonight, people were still working in one of the cornfields as I drove home at 11:00 p.m. A big combine was moving down the rows and a couple of big grain trucks were waiting to be loaded. I hope they didn't have too much more to do.

For me and everyone else who is not harvesting corn, a rainy day tomorrow would be a blessing! My garden would appreciate a real rain. The suffering soybeans and trees and our poor, brown lawns and pastures would love a good, slow soaker too.

4 comments:

Sunny said...

Hi Genevieve, I tried to send you an email to ask permoission for use of one of your photos but it retuned to me saying the email address was no lohger valid. Please let em know how to reach you, Thanks!

Genevieve said...

I haven't discontinued any of my email addresses for at least ten years, so it must have been either a glitch or a typo. Try the address that appears below my photo in the sidebar, here on the blog.

Alex said...

Hi, Genevieve, here in NE Oklahoma we've also been having the high heat (heat index to 110-115 some days). Last Monday we got a bit a rain and then a real downpour Tuesday morning. A day or two of nice weather and now we're back at 95 and 100 for tomorrow. Whew. Good luck in you home area. Enjoy your column.

Genevieve said...

Thanks for your note, Alex. Hang in there -- this heat can't go on forever. The birds are beginning to fly in big flocks here, so autumn must be near.

We had a damp day on Wednesday, but not a really good rain. We had about 4/10 of an inch here, but a neighbor told me they got 3/4 of an inch down the road a mile. We were glad for what we got!

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.