Thursday, August 21, 2008

From The Air

There's something a farmer's daughter always notices from the air, it's the tilled landscape. Clouds are great, too. But vast distances stretch out as I fly over the U.S., huge areas of dirt and crops. Those circles of green out west are where the irrigation watering system goes around, making what look like alien polka dots. Nope, no force from outside the solar system, it's our farming in dry places.

What hits me when I get to England is the small, variegated, pattern like an erratic quilt, showing intensive farming that gives illustration to how the land is divided up in different colors, different crops. It's like this all over Europe, too, where land has been held and used for generations. Small, intensive efforts of small farmers, with every space used. What is making me notice this more now, is seeing our landscape, from the air. The cities spread out forever, the crops shrink, the clearing for bare bones housing development is taking over.

I love the little farmed spaces along the train line into London, community farms everywhere. It's something that's happening in the U.S., too, here it's taken over a lot of what would be waste space, margins of roads and train tracks.

There's that use of space on the trains too, not the working folks that hit our commuter trains in the mornings and evenings, I came in at midday and the trains were full. The roads weren't. Being a helpless American with a big suitcase - that I move around so people can get by - is allright, I get lots of kind words and smiles. Maybe these crazy Merkins aren't irredeemable. If we get hungry enough, maybe we'll stop mowing the roadsides and do some gardening for our own tables, too.

Farmers' daughters also remember rotating the crops, clover one year, corn another, instead of infusing fertilizer and insecticide to produce a big, overweening crop, one right after the other, on less land - like our developments. It's our McMansion farming that I'm seeing from the air that gives me pause.

It's so much prettier to see the green patterned land parceled out each space to a family, growing their own and living checkered lives. That's something I'm thinking we need, our own patterns like our own thoughts, away from the McMinted pattern we have bought into. It would be so nice to see from above. No hints of theology intended.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Glad you arrived safe and sound. I think you're right about the farming. I have taken to eying local yards wondering what the people who own them will wind up growing and with whom they'll trade their crops.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Thanks, I bro't along some sunshine too. It's a good time to invest in organic seeds, you know, I'm very reassured to have a crop of lettuce and beans that have re-seeded themselves. Next year I will have a crop, that's for sure.

10:42 AM  

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