Planting Season

A family planting corn in their small plot of land.

Oxen pull the wooden ploughs to break up the dry soil. Fathers hold the ploughs down and guide the oxen with spoken commands and small taps with their sticks, "Left!" "Right!" "Stop!" "Go!" A mother and a son walk behind dropping seeds in the new furrows. Stretching behind them are other families' plots, fading to the horizon in the light morning fog, waiting for other days to plant.

The scene reminds me of a Winslow Homer painting of the Great Plains from the nineteenth century. Part of my own cultural history so alive in my memory, but so strange to stumble upon in this far away place. I think about our own tortuous history: slaughtering the American Indians to get their land; the industrial revolution; men moving to the cities and working in smoking factories; making metal ploughs and larger and larger tractors; family farms giving way to corporate ones as agrarian life fades away; factories abandoned in favor of the air-conditioned cubicles of the information age. I wonder what the future holds for these people.

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