EMPTY NEST by Curt Swarm

All wealth comes from the soil


I've heard it said that “All wealth comes from the soil.”  Sitting in my recliner in our living room (my favorite place in the house), looking through the picture window at the fields that surround us, I believe this statement to be true.  (Thomas Edison even said it.)  I see rich, brown, Iowa soil, and often times, a BNSF freight train heading east, loaded with coal, or the opposite: another BNSF freight train, heading west, empty, to the coalfields of Wyoming for refilling.  Sometimes these two behemoth caterpillars meet: one train fully loaded with coal, the other empty and hungry.  They scream at each other, saluting, and the sight and vibration is such a rush, I rest my head back and marvel at the power, wealth and tragic beauty.  It all comes from the soil.  It is fitting that the train cars and soil are near the same sepia brown, one begetting the other.    
From my recliner I can watch the road and see when the mail arrives, or when someone pulls in our driveway, or when some gigantic farm equipment stops on the road, the farmer talking on his cell phone.  I watch the sunrise from this window.  I've seen a coyote crossing the field, a rooster pheasant on a morning strut, a hawk dive bomb a rabbit.  You can probably imagine why this recliner is my favorite writing, reading and napping spot.  The stimulus to my imagination is powerful and productive.  The dreams are incredible.  
My friend Chris Hinkle delivered a tractor-bucket load of chicken manure to us.  I told him to dump it in the middle of our garden spot.  This gave me incentive to change the oil in our tractor, mount the tiller (always a chore), and till the garden.  I know it's early, being the middle of April, but farmers are already planting, so I trust their judgment.  A few years back, there was a major blizzard on April 22.  I remember the date well because it was my former wife's birthday and we were going out for dinner.  We canceled plans.  The snow was so wet and heavy the robins were water logged and cold, not being able to find food.  We opened the garage door and let them
While tilling I noticed our apple tree was in full, majestic, bloom.  Last year, it didn't bloom a'tall and we had no apples—they're the good McIntosh variety (Macs), the national apple of Canada.  I don't pretend to understand the cycles of nature, but I do know there is a season for everything, a time of living and a time of dying, a time of growth and a time of rest. 
From the tractor seat I could also see the invasive henbit weed (herb) that is taking over fields in the Midwest and South, much to the chagrin of farmers who have to deal with it.  It's a strange plant, edible in salads, or cooked, and can be used as forage for animals.  One of the reasons it spreads so fast is that it can self-pollinate, in addition to bee pollination.  Many people ask, “What is that reddish-purple plant we see growing everywhere?”  When you tell them it's “henbit” they say, “Hen what?”
The rhubarb was also well up, in fact it was going to seed.  I trimmed off the seed pods to aid in the growth of stalk, and called Ginnie.  I told her the rhubarb was ready, and asked if she'd make a strawberry-rhubarb pie.  She said she would.  I told her the asparagus was also up.  Would she like some?  “Naw,” she said.  “One thing at a time.” 
While I was cutting rhubarb, I heard the distant two-note whistle of a Bob White Quail.  I whistled back.  It answered.  We went back-and-forth like this several more times.  As I was walking to the house, Mr. Bob White appeared in the driveway looking for his rival.  When he saw me, he skedaddled.  Spring has definitely sprung.   
Ginnie's strawberry-rhubarb pie was delicious.  I took a picture of a piece with a slab of vanilla ice-cream on top, and posted it on Facebook.  In a matter of hours there were over 2,000 “likes.”  Wealth comes from the soil. 
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, or email him curtswarm@yahoo.com.  Curt is available for public speaking.  

Curt Swarm, Empty Nest, opinion, commentary, editorial, Pen City Current, soil, wealth, economics


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