Tag Archives: John Deere

I Dream an Ocean

5 Feb

I live on the prairie, but I was born near the sea.
On rocky shores and tidepools I cut my teeth.
And it is never far from my mind.

So I give you this today – a poem, I suppose – because I can’t stop remembering.

I Imagine an Ocean

I pretend, sometimes, that the field to the east of my house is the sea. I imagine that the brown slopes are actually undulating waves; that the trees far off on the edge of the hill are trees on an island, waving their branches in a salt-scented breeze.

Not palm trees – no thank you – these are pine trees, the trees of my childhood, the trees of Puget Sound with their balsamic scent (Does that word work here? I choose to say it does.) and their sticky sap just waiting its turn to enfold unsuspecting bees which, in their amber prisons, will fascinate scientists millennia from now.
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I imagine my prairie ocean with the most success when it’s foggy and I cannot see the dirt. Then it’s easy to see phantom many-masted ships, their sails set and their scuppers gleaming. Or, more likely in these days, scurrying speed-boats, as we used to call them, their purpose apparently nothing more than making waves and scaring seagulls.

I imagine I am on a tall cliff – not unlike that of my youth – and I – why not? – a lighthouse keeper, a fog-horn blaster, the sole protector of sailor’s lives. Their one and only defense against a watery grave.

Would that I had been there for the Edmund Fitzgerald.

In the autumn when combines, like ships in the night, roam the sloping shores of my imagined ocean, I sit out on the deck and savor the sight: I am in a valued port, a sheltered haven where HMS John Deere tacks back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, in her attempts to reach safe harbor. I wave and shout, “Ahoy!” but the good ship cannot hear me over the chugging of her engines and she carries on – back and forth, back and forth, until, finally, she sails away, taking her fleet with her.

And I am left on deck, with nothing but my dried-up ocean, my memory of water, the scent of salt-spray tickling at my throat.
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Bonus: For those of you who don’t know my reference, The Edmund Fitzgerald was an ore ship which sank in a storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. All 29 men in the crew perished. This video link is of a great song, by Gordon Lightfoot, titled, the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The video is entirely footage of Lake Superior, the wreck itself, and with the song as the background.

Yes, I realize that I referenced a fresh-water incident in my salt-water poem…but it’s the ship which comes to mind when living in Minnesota!  In addition, I must say that I did not mean to be flippant about the wreck…it was a heart-breaking incident and remains, to this day, the largest ship ever to be lost on Lake Superior.

Big, Loud, Machinery…and Me

4 Oct

I love this shot. She was playing "baseball" with her bubble-wand.

I have told you before that I am neither a farmer nor the daughter of a farmer. My husband doesn’t farm, I have no relatives who farm, none, that I know of, who ever did. Well, probably small-time farmers, scratching their living in the Scottish highlands or the Wisconsin cheese-scented air, but they were not owners of the big, loud machinery that I’m talking about.

Nope, I’m not a farm-girl at heart, nor am I a fan of loud, jarring, noises. I don’t like motorcycles or jack-breaks, or smoothie-machines. I am, however incongruously, a big fan of the enormous combines that are taking over my little corner of the world at this time of year.

The inside scoop on corn oil.

I don’t know why I love them. If I was a logical, predictable person, I wouldn’t like them at all, loud, dirty, rumbling things that they are. But out here, where I have no neighbors within shouting distance and the corn fields aren’t much for conversation, I get a huge kick out of the gi-normous green combines.

"Dumping on the go."

True, they’re not all green John Deere varieties, some are red International Harvesters, or yellow New Hollands or gray Gleaners. (Yes, I’ve lived here long enough to learn a few things! Though, in the interests of complete honesty, it was my husband who remembered the Gleaner!) But the majority of them are green and yellow and sport a black buck sticker somewhere about their hoods. Around here, yellow and green doesn’t just mean the Green Bay Packers, or, even better, the University of Oregon, it mostly means what kind of farm machinery you believe in!)

Lucy got a ride last year. She LOVED it!

The thing, actually, that is the weirdest reason for me liking them is that they remind me of the army tanks I used to see in Berlin. I came up, one day, out of the U-Bahn station, expecting to cross the street uneventfully to the base, but instead came face to face (and ear to ear) with a convoy of tanks rumbling past me and blocking my route. I had no choice, really, but to stand there, hands over my ears, as tank after tank roared past. I. Hated. It.

It wasn’t just the noise, nor was it the inconvenience as I waited for a LONG time for them to go by; it was the meaning of it all. It was the images that flashed through my mind of just, exactly, what these things were for. It was living there, in Berlin, the war-destroyed city, where the tallest hill is made of rubble from the war. Imagine! A hill made of destroyed buildings and bombed churches and lost homes. That is what tanks like these (or at least their predecessors) rumbling past me had done.

And yet, as I stood there, tears pricking at my eyes and my ears blasted by roaring engines and creaking tracks, I knew that without those tanks, a terrible man would have been free to murder and destroy and tear his country apart. I was terrified of what those tanks represented; and terrified of what would have happened without them.

Told you it gets dusty.

But here I’ve done it again. I meant to write about combines! About the dust that rises behind them and fills your nostrils with brown-tinged snot. About the two times of year – planting and harvest – when I have neighbors to spy on. About the thrill of seeing them come up over the gentle hills at night, their headlights rising like the sun over the waving corn. About the way the kids love to glean any stray soy beans, popping their dry pods to reveal the small, tan beans – so gourmet, so hip.

Soy beans...au naturale.

Tofu, anyone?

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