Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging — Rick Moran @ 10:44 am

It’s late August in the Heartland. Soon, surrounding my little town of Streator, Illinois, the farmers will begin the near frantic job of harvesting their crops, racing their giant combines down row upon row of impossibly bountiful fields of corn, soybeans, and other foodstuffs that will feed the nation, the world. This miracle is brought to us courtesy of science, mother nature, and the careful, patient husbandry of the American farmer. It takes equal parts hard work and an intimate knowledge of the land to make a living as a farmer in modern America. And these days, it also takes a keen business mind and an almost supernatural ability to judge the market to maximize the farmer’s razor thin margin of profit.

And it takes a little luck. We’ve had a farmer’s summer for growing that’s for sure. Rain has been plentiful. The weather has been mild, thus sparing those whose life is synced up with the rhythms of the seasons the burden of having to toil in the usual life draining heat and humidity that afflicts these parts during the summer months. No crop destroying floods. No plagues of locusts. Just the sun, the wind, the gentle rains, and nature’s mysterious magic that turns a tiny seed placed in the rich, loamy, middle American earth into the eye-popping bounty that is the envy of the modern world.

Indeed, in the entire history of civilization, dating back to the first attempts to cultivate wheat 10,000 years ago (probably in what is now Turkey), the world has never seen anything to compare to the productivity of the American farmer. Thanks to a happy marriage of science and experience, we grow more food, using less acreage, and in a wider variety of climates, soils, and landscape than any society that has trod earth.

And it all starts here, not 2 miles from where I’m sitting. We don’t think about it much, this wondrous process of bringing food to our tables. We walk into the grocery store and don’t think about the aisles and aisles of products that has as its origins someone’s hard labor. It rarely crosses our mind that each box of cereal, or head of lettuce, or tomato, or T-Bone steak has many hours of planning, feeding, growing, reaping, and processing being performed by real people before the fruit of that labor drops effortlessly into our carts.

Next time you’re in a supermarket, think about it. I daresay you will be filled with awe and gratitude that the few have worked so diligently to feed the many, and that appreciating what they accomplish year in and year out to literally keep us from starving is the least we can do to thank them.

Yes, it’s late summer and already, a cold dread is beginning to grip my heart as I realize that in a few short weeks, the lush verdancy of the growing season will be replaced by the slate grays and burnt umbers of Autumn. And where the fall has its own distinctive charm and beauty, I have begun to truly hate the winters here in the Midwest, which seem to be getting longer, colder, and darker the older I get.

I feel a kinship with my Celtic ancestors who also hated the winters. Unlike them, I know that spring will eventually get here. They, however, weren’t entirely sure and, just to be on the safe side, would sacrifice a cow during the festival of Samhain (November 1) to one or another of their deities so that the Gods would take pity on them and bring the spring back after a spell. I’m sure they were relieved as I am the first day that temps climb above 60 degrees.

Perhaps My Beloveds - the Chicago Bears - should make a sacrifice before the season gets underway. Just so they don’t mistake one of their defensive lineman for a cow.

And, of course, we are now officially in the stretch run of the baseball season. My White Sox have been so gloriously inconsistent this year that I haven’t even bothered to write about them. But here we are, 5 weeks from the end of the season and the Pale Hose find themselves just a couple of games out of first. Thankfully, other teams in their division have proven to be equally horrible so that the race for the Central Division crown will probably be decided that last week of the season when one team screws up less than the others and backs in to the title.

By then, I will be looking back on this moment with envy. By the time the season concludes, the night air will carry a sharp twitch of cold, you will probably be able to see your breath, a sweater will no longer be enough to keep you warm, and I will be bitching even more about the fact that winter is on the way. This is a prerogative of age, by the way, so I would appreciate it if you kept off my case about it.

After all, you might jinx the whole thing and spring might never make an appearance.


  1. Beautiful post.

    Comment by jackson1234 — 8/21/2009 @ 11:11 am

  2. Nice break from politics!

    I have found out first-hand how difficult farming is… I planted my first garden a couple of years ago, and between the bugs, drought, heat, and my ignorance, I produced nothing worth eating. My wife has mandated that from now on, I only get to try fruit trees (which grow like weeds here in Jupiter, FL- mango, avacado, and banana).

    Thanks for the reminder to reflect on the hard work and knowledge of the American farmer.

    Comment by lionheart — 8/21/2009 @ 11:37 am

  3. Speaking of the science part of that marriage, scientists have made a breakthrough with rice growing in flooded conditions. Rice is one of those crops it wouldn’t hurt for Americans to grow more of, especially with the (seemingly) enduring popularity of American versions of Asian cuisine.


    I hope your White Sox take the Central this year.

    Comment by Eddie — 8/21/2009 @ 12:35 pm

  4. Frost (in The Onset) weighs in on the possibility that spring might never come…
    Yet all the precedent is on my side:
    I know that winter death has never tried
    The earth but it has failed: the snow may heap
    In long storms an undrifted four feet deep
    As measured again maple, birch, and oak,
    It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak.

    Comment by HyperIon — 8/21/2009 @ 1:23 pm

  5. Here in Southern California the seasons are changing too. I guess I should get my sweater dry cleaned. Sometime in the next couple of months. And of course I can look forward to a small decline in purchases of sunscreen.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 8/21/2009 @ 1:24 pm

  6. Rick,

    I have been internally bemoaning the coming of the fall and winter, realizing that time is flying way too fast and that I have been unable to enjoy and rejoice in the four seasons. The worst part is that time seems to go so much faster, too much busyness and not enough time for relaxing and enjoying the differences each season brings.

    I wish your Bears and Sox the best,


    Comment by John — 8/21/2009 @ 3:17 pm

  7. A very well thought-out piece. Don;t like the cooler climates of the north, come to Texas where the growing season lasts a month longer and the winters will make you think it is September (from an Illinois frame of mind).

    Comment by jazzizhep — 8/21/2009 @ 3:55 pm

  8. I would tell you to fuck off Rick. But, I have some catlle to move. That’s the beauty of America.

    Hell, next time you’re out this way, I’ve got a steak, a glass of whiskey, and a bit of spleen for you.


    Jesus what brought that on? All sorts of weirdos on the internet.


    Comment by Allen — 8/24/2009 @ 12:04 am

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