Monday, July 28, 2008

45 Degrees Latitude

We live in an area known as the “Grass Seed Capital of the World.” Every year at this time, fields of grass are being cut and winnowed, seed is being harvested, and fields are burning. After the grass seed is removed, the burning destroys weed seeds and adds a little somethin’- somethin’ back into the ground with the first rains, which, according to the weatherman, may make an early arrival tomorrow.

Last Friday, and again all day today, huge columns of smoke arose in all directions. I would venture to say I saw at least seventy-five of these fires today. And when I say “huge columns” I mean apocalyptically huge. Like a volcano just blew its top and a half-mile wide swath of ash is rising four miles into the sky. Only it’s ten volcanoes blowing at the same time. The air gets pretty smoky and little black blades of burned grass fall all around. And every year at this same time, city folks get in an uproar about the air pollution. The same folks that buy the grass seed for their lawns. Hey! grow a vegetable garden instead.

I feel a tangent coming on, so before that happens, let me cut to the chase: After the field is burned, the contrast is quite striking between those large blackened tracts and the surrounding, still green, yellow or brown fields. I have been admiring these neo-geo landscapes for several years now, and have always thought they would make a great photo study. In that the area is quite hilly, there are some great panoramas that should translate quite nicely into a two-dimensional format. In previous years, unfortunately, our harvest has been in full swing at the same time as the burnings, and I have not been afforded the time to go out and shoot what I have seen as I drive to and from deliveries.

Since we’re not farming this year, I have been looking forward to the burnings, and today I went out with my trusty Canon A-1. I believe I framed some pretty nice shots. Plus, I scouted a lot of fields that have yet to be harvested that will yield some really nice close-up work. As soon as I get the slides processed and scanned, I’ll post a couple pics.

And because the song rocks:

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