Monday, July 05, 2010

An American summer: The rivers are full, the grasses are lustrous and the animals are sleek

Verlyn Klinkenborg is an editorial writer for The New York Times, and also a small farmer. From time to time, he writes short columns that are labeled "The Rural Life." His latest, after a drive across the northern half of the United States, is labeled "Editorial Notebook" but still merits our attention. And if you have a current photograph that would illustrate this item, please send it to Thanks to George Ferrell for this one from Kentucky (US 421 in Madison County).
"I didn’t solve any problems, for all my thinking, but I did a lot of looking," Klinkenborg writes. "And, to use the wonderful old phrase, I will tell you what.

"In America the rivers are full — the Yellowstone, the Cheyenne, the Missouri, the Rock, the Mississippi. They reach up into the boughs of the trees that overarch them and sweep their shadows away downstream. And everywhere I looked, all across the mountains and the plains, I saw grass of a kind you see only perhaps once in a generation, so thick and lustrous that it looks as though it had the texture of a beaver pelt. The high-pressure dome above me scattered the winds, sending the sunlight skittering over the grasses as though they were ripples on the waves at sea.

"The cattle and horses were sleek and almost fatigued with good feeding. In western South Dakota, cows stood belly deep in a ranch pond, doing their impersonation of the kind in Constable’s paintings. In the eastern part of the state, I came across an old barn sinking, prow high, in the ocean of grass. I wanted to pull over and lie down in the thick of those pastures, watching the seeded heads of the grasses bending deeply in the wind above me. But I drove on, and noticed that northern Iowa, where silos were once the only tall landmarks on the horizon, has now given itself a certain grandeur by building towering windmills, mostly in pods of six." (Read more)

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