COLUMN: Musings of a Simple Country Man

Hobie Morris

COLUMN: Musings of a Simple Country Man

Where have all the flowers gone? And other country reflections

By Hobie Morris

The Brookfield hills are once again alive with a colorful palette of spring flowers. Reminding this simple country man of the lovely impressionistic artistry of that school’s founder—Claude Monet. My lovely wife Lois is especially mesmerized by the seemingly infinite shades of green that color the emerging leaves on the forested hills. These beautiful hills and upland valleys have been our daily seasonal companions for close to 40 years. These decades of off the grid living have indelibly connected us to the most important components in our lives: air, water, plants, soil and animals. Lois and I have an abiding love and stewardship of these life forces that we have at least temporarily become sharers of with Mother Earth itself.

The Lakota Indians have a phrase “Mitakuye oyasin”—WE ARE ALL RELATED. Recently Lois and I had a brief roadside chat with a third generation farmer. He has lived on the same land for his entire life time. He can remember as a four year old going to milk the cows with his father and grandfather. In those days there were lots of small farmers along this rural road in the southwest corner of the township. There are only two now and they are like most small farmers in serious trouble.

There is far less spring optimism this year than I can ever remember. A feeling of no hope, no future seems to prevail and many farmers feel they and their overwhelming difficulties are invisible to the American people and governmental leadership.

The small farmers’ crisis is well documented. But as this simple country man listens to the anguish of this small farmer some far wiser observations come to mind that may be of some encouragement for these incredibly hard working yeomen.

Shakespeare, in AS YOU LIKE IT, was only partly correct when he wrote “I like this place and could – willingly waste my time on it.” My small farm neighbor deeply loves his land but NEVER wastes his time.

When Lois and I see farmers hard at work I remember American writer Elbert Hubbard who wonderfully described our thoughts about these amazingly talented men and women. In 1911 he wrote “one machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”

Farmers have a daily symbiotic relationship with the soil and land. Most farmers use it wisely as you would a living and essential love of your wellness. Other farmers use land as a disposable chemicalized crop producer . Ultimately destroying nature’s amazing creation and diversity. These latter farmers use the soil, they don’t love the soil.

As my beautiful South Dakota farmer’s daughter and wonderful wife and I continue our chat, I think of some other possibly germane thoughts. English novelist Daphne Dumaurier in her novel THE SCAPE GOAT observed “the stillness came from the land. Long centuries had molded it, a million ages kneaded it, history had trampled upon it, men and women had fed themselves and lived and died upon it, and nothing of what we thought or said or did could trouble the brooding peace that was the soil.”

When I see these long suffering farmers hard at work, regardless of how despondent they are, they are miraculously propelled to keep on plugging on. Facing odds that would easily overwhelm the rest of us. America ignores these men and women at our peril.

Farmers in our area are beginning to hay now, cows are finally out to pasture, corn has been planted and has broken through the soil. It’s a beautiful time of the year, but farmers only have time to briefly glance before going back to work. Sanora Babb, in WHOSE NAMES ARE UNKNOWN, has written something I think is true for my farmer friend. “…This kind of feeling is one of the things a man lives for…the feeling that I made something. I made something with the soil, together we made the crop grow in order and loveliness.”

As my wife Lois and I drive home after our roadside chat, I keep coming back to what an Oglala Lakota man John Horn has written “Some day the earth will weep, she will beg for her life, she will cry with tears of blood. You will make a choice…if you will help her, or let her die, and when she dies, you too will die.”

Every farmer understands that without a loving stewardship of the land the consequences could be catastrophic and irreversible. But these are only the musings of a simple country man after a roadside chat with a 75-year-old farming friend.

Editor’s note: Hobie Morris is a Brookfield resident and simple country man.

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