Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Cotton- a fiber prominent in our lives. Old-timers have their stories about picking cotton and share them with vigor to any soul who will listen. I personally did not grow up picking cotton; it just wasn't part of our farming life- not a part of our family history. Yet...
My husband's family apparently had their history in cotton picking. His grandparents always said- everybody ought to pick cotton at least once in their life. So, I took it literally...and we picked cotton.
A few years ago the kids and I went to Washington on the Brazos, a living historical landmark and museum, where the farm hands taught us the fine art (ha ha) of picking, cleaning, and storing cotton. This old-fashioned, hands-on method gave us a glimpse of the tales our dear family members shared so often. Why stop there?
We jumped in head first and planted a row of cotton right here on our farm. The drought and heat gave us a sense of doubt that any part of this would survive the season, so we forgot about the little row of cotton seeds. Imagine farm boy's surprise when he found scrubby little shrubs with cotton tufts popping out all over them! Cool!
I understand that none of our experiences compare to the hard work and struggle our past generations endured in the cotton fields of old, yet, it has been a blessing; a lesson. Cotton picking it hot, miserable work; it makes you itchy and it scratches at you like thorn bushes. Cleaning the seeds out of cotton is a down right awful job (hallelujah for the cotton gin); they are nearly impossible to get out! Last but not least- it takes a lot of cotton plants to make enough cotton to do anything- seriously- good grief.
In the end, it has all been a wonderful experience: learning, connecting, experiencing history and hard work. Next time you want to connect with your past- grab your kids and go cotton pickin'