October 18, 2003
Since most area farmers have changed to minimum tillage, meaning they try not to dig too deeply when working their fields--in order to preserve moisture as well as the structure of the soil--the fall scenery in the countryside has subtly changed. Instead of jet black plowed fields, the surface of the worked fields now bristles with dead soybean stalks, corn stalks, or grain straw. The dead plant matter catches the orange of the rising and setting sun, a nice effect, but it doesn't have the cleanliness and finality of a plowed field, the dramatic change from golden to black.
Fall plowing is such a satisfying endeavor that I used to plow up grassy areas just for fun. I doubt I was alone in this. Like many fun farming things, nobody questioned turning the soil whether you planned to use the patch or not. Now, however, farming doctrines have changed, and recreational plowing can no longer be justified.
Here's a poem I wrote when I still plowed:
There's a meadow we plow now and then, just to plow-
Just to push the grass back--
just to turn the green black
just to tweak the cheek of the rebellious reeds
and bequeath to the earth the neatness it needs.
After all the buildup for a possible Cubs-Red Sox World Series, a Fall Classic between the Yankees and Marlins is as disappointing as a big snowstorm that veers south. Yeah, its nice to have life be back to normal, uninterrupted by the stresses of baseball, but one misses the drama. To have the team that is supposed to win, win.....well, that's no fun. Especially when it is the Yanks. And the Marlins? Aren't they a USFL team? The only saving grace is Trader Jack McKeon, the cigar-chomping curmudgeon who manages the Marlins. His comments at the post-game press conferences manage to breathe a little life into that otherwise dismal genre.