August 12, 2011

theme #2, also known as "where I grew up"

Another "theme" for vacation photo-taking came about while Tom and I were out taking a drive and got stuck driving behind a "farm implement." This happens sometimes in that area, especially this time of year. You learn to live with it and be patient (till you can get to a passing zone, that is!), but it got me looking around and noticing the signs we passed along the way. (Bear with me here; these pictures might not be all that "interesting" in the traditional sense of tourist photos, but the more I think about it, I'm really glad I took them because they give me a visual sense of my "place and history," if you know what I mean. ) So, as we kept looking around during our driving, I started noticing seed company variety signs alongside the road. These signs are put up as sort of "advertising" for the different companies, in front of the fields. Once I started actually really "looking" at them, I realized there were a lot of them around and that they actually have kinda cool graphics on them: Someone who didn't grow up in this area of the country might not even take notice of these signs, or notice them without thinking about them, but growing up in a small town (population 1500; my high school graduating class was 42) where farming was all around, I think a little differently about these things. Well, now that I've grown up I do, anyway... I didn't really think much about it at all while I was in high school! :D Farming is not an easy profession- it's one of the most dangerous professions there is, and to me, it seems a lot like gambling: farmers gamble on what the weather will be like for the planting and growing seasons, they gamble on the prices they hope they'll get for your crops (months in the future), they gamble on whether their expenses and equipment will hold up, and they hope there won't be any emergencies... it's not for the faint of heart, I don't think! I grew up with this all around me (my dad worked for a seed corn company my whole life, actually, until he retired), and like I said, I never really thought too much about it before... how important this way of life is, how most people nowadays probably don't ever think about where their food actually comes from or that actual people work to grow it, and how we all should probably have a better understanding of these kinds of things. (I'm not going to get all political on you here, or anything... it's just something I think about sometimes, and it does make me glad I grew up where- and when- I did.)
This is a "test plot" on the edge of town; after Dad found out I wanted to take pictures of the signs, he told me where I could get a number of them all in one place... test plots are fields where they plant a lot of different varieties, so as to "show off" the different ones in close proximity, so farmers can compare them. (I took a drive out there, then kept driving to eventually find a few more... I ended up being late for lunch, actually!)
These two pictures showcase some of the gorgeous scenery you can find in northwest Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin (this area is "unglaciated," which means the glaciers did not go thru here and flatten everything during the Ice Age). It makes for some beautiful rolling hills and good farmland... the vistas aren't as dramatic as the Arizona landscape, but they are majestic in their own right, that's for sure. (These two photos are much prettier if you click on them to view them large; please do that!)

So, now that I've waxed all philisophical on you, I'll say thank you for indulging me, and I'll close with a quote from Willa Cather (one of my favorite authors for her lyrical descriptions of the land and countryside). She lived in the early 20th century and wrote a number of novels about pioneer life in Nebraska... this quote is from one of her best-known novels O, Pioneers!

We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand are the people who own it - for a little while.

1 comment:

Mel said...

OMG Jennifer! I love seed signs too! You found some great ones (and beautiful scenery, too!)! :D