Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Worst Hard Time

1,667 words a day will be a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Not a good novel, by any stretch of the imagination, but a novel. Last year I didn't succeed. There were two reasons, one, the one I openly blame it on, is that Drama Queen ran in to a bit of trouble last November and I spent too much time on the road trying to help her out so I didn't have time to finish. The other is that I tried writing a story that was just too much for my small amount of skill. The year before I finished a few days early and had a story I really liked. This year I am going with a nice simple story and have full expectations of finishing. I have wrote 1,982 words so far. I may try to find a way to keep a word count on this blog.

I finished reading The Worst Hard Time yesterday. Every few minutes my mind strays back to the book. I may need to read it again or something else on the same subject. It is a non-fiction account of the dust bowl days; something I should know more about. Most of the books I read take place far away from here. When I picked up this book it didn't occur to me I would be reading about my own area, I just liked the cover and title. At first while I read I romanticized the setting of the story and found myself walking outside to really notice and enjoy the wide open space we have here.
As a child I romanticized the plains when I read Little House On The Prairie. I romanticized the locations of almost every book I read, I still do. Whenever I read a book I wanted to go there. I want to walk around and feel the air, smell the smells, experience the hard times as well as feel the sun shine on my face. This was how it was when I read Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Jacob Have I Loved, and really any book.

As the book progressed and the depression worsened I grew amazingly scared. I heard it said once that if it went long enough without raining it could happen again and on some distant level I believed that. I also knew on that same distant level that we had caused the dust to fly. Reading about it in such detail I realized that our greed and lack of foresight was the main cause, not ignorance. There were voices of warning before and during the great plow-up. People chasing money never listen to words of caution. It is very scary.

Another thing that I didn't realize is that the grasslands are still in the rebuilding stage, and that it could take hundreds more years to for them to completely heal. I am simple in some ways. I thought we had just ran in planted some grass and trees and problem solved. Beyond that I never gave it much thought. Which is sad since I have been caught out driving in dust storms. Once, years ago, I was driving on the highway north of town when suddenly all I could see was dust and the occasional piece of corn stalk that scraped my window as it flew by. We don't really have shoulders on much of the roads out here so I was afraid to pull over. I was afraid to slow down too much for fear of being hit from behind. I couldn't drive very fast though because I could only barely make out the white line for a few feet in front of me. My kids were sleeping in the back seat and this was about the most tense half hour in my life. You would have to magnify this experience by 100 to get anything near what the people endured here during the thirties, but it does show that our dirt does still blow some days.

The scariest part is that we are now using our water supply just as flagrantly as they used the soil back then. There are voices of warning and we give lip service to water conservation, but nothing is really being done. Without our ground water we would be back at the mercy of the sky for our water and we have seen how fickle the sky can be.

Read this book it is informative, entertaining, and a word of caution to us all.

No comments: