Saturday, June 9, 2007

Those Old Cotton Fields Back Home

If there is a place on earth hotter than a Texas black land bottom cotton field in mid June, I don't want to know about it. Whoever conceived the image of hell as a place of eternal heat most likely spent time in a place like this. A sloping hill meets high walls of Johnson grass on three sides blocking any puff of a breeze. Shimmering heat waves turn the distant landscape into virtual liquid.

Foot high cotton plants poke out of the cracked earth. My brother and I are cleaning the morning glory vines from around the stalks. This sometimes requires crawling on our bellies on the hot ground. We search the sky for clouds. When we see one moving in our direction we stand still waiting for it to float overhead and block the sun for a few precious minutes. There aren't many clouds today.

Sometimes Jake will fly the crop duster over us so low that if I raised my hoe up in the air, I could whack the landing gear. I don't do it. I don't want to get anybody hurt, especially myself. His fly overs provide a distraction from the monotony of our task but he isn't flying over our way today. We can see him occasionally fly straight up and dive straight down on the other side of the hill. He must be working on the plane.

We continue going up one row and down the next, pulling vines, cursing morning glories, talking about whatever was on our minds at the time. Anything to not think about the heat and how many more rows of morning glories await us.

A small cloud drifts over head. We stand up to savor its fleeting shade. We haven't seen Jake's plane in a while. There is a spiral of black smoke drifting up from the other side of the hill. We wonder what is on fire.

11:30- lunch time. Some days we bring boiled eggs and pork'n'beans to eat in the shade provided by the '68 Impala we usually drive out here. Today we head to our grandparent's house for lunch and some time in the air conditioning before returning to the field.

Our grandmother meets us at the door. "Jake crashed the crop duster," she tells us. "I thought you might have seen it happen. He was over by Weldon's fiddlin' with the engine."

Soundtrack for this post: Stephen Stills' Tree Top Flyer.


Christine said...

Wow, this was so vividly written. I felt like I was right there. Hope Jake is ok.

Thanks for stopping by my place!

seventh sister said...

Sorry to say that was the end of Jake. The story is true as best I remember it. I did change the name of the pilot.

QuiltingFitzy said...

I told my husband yesterday that we need not fear the heat of Hell, it was "hotter than Hell" here now.

Dateline: Tucson

MsLittlePea said...

I like heat. The humid kind though. On a weekend trip to Vegas-I felt like I was dying. Dry heat is supposed to be more comfortable because humidity makes you feel hotter but without moisture-it's death heat. Ok my comments are not very relevant but your description of heat made me think of that!

seventh sister said...

It does get hot in Tuscon. At least the dirt is not black there andn it does cool off a littlebit at night due to the low humidity.

Little Pea,
You are right. There is a lot of difference in dry heat and humid heat but after a certain temperature, neither isi what you would call pleasant.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Wow, Jackie, and I thought I had it rough on Long Island as a child, sitting on the screened porch reading because nobody would take me to the beach.

Was Jake a relative of yours?

seventh sister said...

Hey Heart,
No, He was not related to me but there were only about a hundred or so peoplel in the little town where my grandparents lived and where we had the farm. The plane belonged to my mother's cousin, though. I did not really know Jake except through his fly bys.

Dan said...

What a wonderful story! I was right there with you, in those fields.

velvet girl said...

What a wonderfully written story. I'll have to say that I was looking forward to the heat of summer, but after this I'm feeling thirsty and just want to find a shady spot.

That's really unfortunate about Jake.

seventh sister said...

Thanks Dan and Velvet,

My objective was to make people sweat when they read it. Maybe I should run it again in January when we are all cold.

Hel said...

Thanks for wishing me luck :)

I love your writing and your world.

Anonymous said...

I felt like I was reading a novel.
This is fantastic. I loved it.

Tanya Brown said...

Yikes! Poor Jake! Piling a crop duster isn't my idea of a good way to go, although evidently it isn't uncommon.

Thought I'd stop by to say hi and thank you for visiting my blog the other day.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Nice stuff. I found a cool news widget for our blogs at Now I can show the latest news on my blog. Worked like a breeze.

Open Grove Claudia said...

Boy that's lovely. I could almost feel the heat waves off the story.

How is Jake?

seventh sister said...

You're welcome, Hel.

Glad you liked it, tc.

You're right, Tanya. Flying a crop duster nose down into terra firma is not as uncommon a way to exit this playground as you would think. Must be quite a rush.

Claudia, it was a long time ago and as I said earlier, Jake did not survive. I am a little suprised that a couple of people have asked. I guess I need to work on clarity in my writing.

thailandchani said...

That hotter place? Tucson. Oh, gawd! :)

Very good story.. well-written... tight!



seventh sister said...

Oh no! Chani, I said I did not want to know. Good thing you told me. I won't go through Tuscon in the summer without my AC on.

Peacechick Mary said...

Oh no, not Jake!