Saturday, March 19, 2011

A silent prairie sentinel

Often when I head out to the farm, I never turn on the music. I let the mind wander, sorting, sifting, pondering, reflecting....

Sometimes I let the eyes wander --- though not too far, since I'm driving. But I try to stay alert to my surroundings, just to see what may catch my eye.

On this night, before the darkness had fully settled, I noticed an old-fashioned wooden grain bin. A tall rectangle with a crow's nest on top. I knew that's where the pulley for the grain hoist was housed. The bin hadn't been used for perhaps a half-century or more. It was nearly engulfed in trees between a pair of farm fields, almost shrouded from view even in daylight.

It seemed forlorn, a rusted relic awaiting the day it finally collapses or meets the wrecking ball.

But there was a time when that wooden beast was the cutting edge in grain storage, and represented a step forward for the family that installed it. I wondered how many sunsets it has seen, how many bumper crops, how many hail storms that ravaged the fields it surveyed - and farmers' finances along the way. I wondered how many generations of children played and worked around it, what dreams blossomed in its shadows, what hopes died.

I wondered how many families it helped feed, how many lives it touched, this agrarian architectural artifact.

The answers, I'm sure, are only in the wind. 

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