Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A particular place

Here is a view of a particular place in the middle of the vast Great Plains.

Although I have never been there, I frequently think of this place around Independence Day, when churches sing the lovely Katharine Lee Bates hymn that some people say should be our National Anthem.  The later verses persuasively combine progressive principles, a theologically sound measure of humbleness, and patriotism.  But, it is the first verse that reminds me of this particular place.  For some reason, I feel nearly weepy when the hymn reaches the images of mountain, fruited plain, and amber waves of grain.  I will be embarrassed if this is something that happens only to agricultural economists.  Perhaps this song affects other folks also.

Right in the middle of the image, if you zoom in, is the place my father was raised.  A preacher's kid, he and his brother grew up in the parsonage of Canaan Moravian Church, in the little green rectangle.  The graveyard served as their playground.  If I am reading the image correctly, the gravestones are all laid flat in the Moravian egalitarian tradition.  The brothers attended a one-room school not far away.

Many rural communities like this are struggling.  The farms that remain have grown large in size and few in number.  My dad says that, in his childhood, many farmers had one section (640 acres).  Some farms back then had a half section.  A typical farm now might be 3,000 acres.  The production is good, but the changes are hard on community life.

After looking at this particular place, hit the "zoom out" button a few times.  There are so many places like this particular place.  This is an amazing country.

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