Stuff upon which we reflect

Small pond

This little pond on Farm-to-Market Road in Cleveland County, Arkansas is probably a primordial soup of a small universe. It is no doubt full of critters and in the mornings and late evening is probably a popular watering hole for local wildlife which is abundant in Cleveland County. It looks like a simple pond, but it is a small universe of interdependent creatures in and out of the water. Our lives, like the pond, conceal more than is revealed. As we gaze, we look inside ourselves.

Pond in Star City AR

Click on the picture for more reflections at Corndancer dot-com

As we ponder the reflection of the pond, our inner reflection circuits are energized. We compare the inner complexity of the pond’s diverse environment to our own experiences. As you gaze at the pond, the reverse crystal ball  kicks in and you reflect on from whence you came.

Following that intriguing observation, may I suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com and take a look more pictures and ideas about where this exploration of reflections started. We’ll wait here until you get back.

Moving right along, in neighboring Lincoln County, Arkansas we found this cool old oak tree, which has long since met its demise. The sun, the clouds, the tree and the barn were just right. Sometimes, you just get lucky.

dead tree against blue sky

Even in death, the tree is still an imposing image spreading its scruffy limbs against an azure sky dotted with cottony clouds. Perhaps when the barn in the background was abandoned the tree threw in the towel at the same time.

Close up of old dead tree

A tighter view lets you see the complexity of the limbs. This will be a spooky place on a moonlit Halloween night.

Closer to home, a week or so back, local farmers began to harvest winter wheat. They plant their wheat, a hardy plant, in the late fall and early winter after they harvest their soybeans or other summer and early fall crops. Snow, ice and other untoward manifestations by Mother Nature do not seem to phase it.

wheat ready for harvest

My farmer stepson tells me that wheat is ready to harvest when the heads begin to curl. This is ready to go. You can see the downward curl. This is flour before Pillsbury gets to it.

Wheat now grows where cotton was once king in the south. Like a lot of other American industries, cotton production has moved outside our boundaries. A large cotton gin in a neighboring town recently closed it doors. A Mexican agricultural company bought the equipment in the gin, disassembled it and moved it to one of their gins south of the border. We have high hopes that this trend does not continue.

Wheat field in Arkansas

This wheat field, ready to harvest, was a cotton field in past years.

Wheat is harvested by a combine. The huge machine cuts the wheat, swallows it into its gaping maw, shakes the snot out of it, and spits stalks and trash out the back of the machine while it deposits grain in its hopper. The machines are big, expensive and very complex.

combine harvesting wheat

Combines are as big as a small house and cost in the low to mid six-figure range. Most farmers will tell you that when you crank 'em up, they immediately begin to shake themselves to pieces. It's the nature of the beast.

Once winter wheat is harvested, the race is on to clean up the fields, sometime by burning, and make the Delta soil ready for planting soy beans. They like to complete their soy bean planting in June.  Come October and November, farmers will harvest their soybeans using the same combines with which they grabbed their wheat — and then get ready to plant more wheat where the beans were. Life goes on.

soybean irrigation

The abundance of moisture left by massive spring rains has long since evaporated and soybean farmers are now irrigating their crops. The pipe is collapsible plastic. Pressure from the well pump to which it is attached inflates it. Farmers punch a hole in the plastic for each row to be irrigated.

 Less than two months ago, the fields which now require irrigation were sticky mud from spring rains. Local supplications to the Almighty to meter rains out on a more convenient schedule have thus far gone unheeded.

flooded city streets

Less than two months ago, we had more water than we could possibly use. Now it's back to the wells to keep the crops growing. These city streets are just a few blocks from the Chez Dempsey and only a few miles from the bean fields you see above. Wonder if that jeep would pull skis?

 Thanks for joining us as we meandered around this end of the world exploring our problems, opportunities, and some of the neat stuff you may not see anywhere else.

Be sure and see our Weekly Grist Gallery with larger high resolution pictures of our shots this week.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind