The corn is harvested and the hay is baled. The dried up corn stalks are tied to lamp posts downtown on Main Street and the square hay bales line the sides of a trailer for a hayride. Scarecrows and Jack-o-lanterns greet the shoppers as they stroll along the brick sidewalks.
But the cotton hasn’t been harvested. Not all of it anyway. It’s snowy white in the fields on my country roads. Before it’s harvested I pull to the side of the road, walk into the field and get a stalk of cotton to place in an old milk jar for a fall decoration in my living room.
The plants burst with the fluffy white stuff, so the big machines are ready to do their work. After the machines roll over the fields all that’s left is acres and acres of flattened brown stalks fading into the landscape. The cotton is baled into huge rectangles. They wait there in the fields until trucks pick them up and haul them away.
I drive past these fields every ordinary day unaware of all that happens there. This is a family’s livelihood and hard work. I forget sometimes that what comes from those fields will be made into tee shirts and blankets and warm cozy socks.
We were walkin’ in high cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten,
Those fertile fields are never far away.
From High Cotton by Alabama