Last years flood left piles and piles of sand outside our front door. Where it was once green and shrubby, it is now desolate and depressing. Well, the sand sculptures created by the south wind and rather interesting and intriguing… you know – how does the wind do that type of intriguing – it is a dirty mess.
People around here are joking about how it looks like the great depression. That’s very true. Visibility is reduced when the the wind blows and the landscape appears very wintery as the sand dunes shift and shape across the lawn – and mostly the garden.
It isn’t raining hard, but just enough to wake me. I stepped outside and breathed it in. It’s been a long long time since it rained. And, the last time it started raining, it didn’t quit until we were displaced from our home because of the water washing over the lawn and running by our house.
The Great Depression is nothing to joke about. From the interviews I have gathered, life was difficult. With all of our “stuff” and choices for “stuff” it’s difficult to imagine having to want for something.
Which reminds of growing up. As an artist paper, pencils, crayons and paints are cherished items. One of the first memories I have is attending a wedding at Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Fredonia. Everyone was enjoying the reception, I was building a train out of the boxes, bows and paper left after the gifts were open.
We were always scrounging for stuff to use for art projects. There weren’t a lot of plastic throwaway bottles, containers, baskets, you know – the things we fill the landfills with every day. And then there was graph paper. WOW. I cherished graph paper and because I wasn’t in any advanced math classes, it was really scarce. Now I have graph paper everywhere. It is what weavers use to design patterns. I’m wondering if the love of graph paper brought me to weaving as a career in the middle of my careers or vice-versa?
When my grandfather was still alive we talked about how they didn’t have electricity at the farm. Imagine that, no electricity or running water, just windmills and wells. Feeding animals and farming is hard enough but without electricity – those folks were tough.
If tasked with surviving in today’s world with a little less, could we do it? One of my students talked about how “weird” she was because she noticed things like changing leaves and the phases of the moon; and how she didn’t carry her cell phone 24.7. I could relate to her – that common thread that runs through all generations. The need to preserve some of the past so we don’t get too caught up in a present without a future.
We also viewed some photographs of the Depression taken by Dorthea Lange’s great photos. Boy, to have a camera and film during those years must have been a great oddity in the Midwest. Heck to be able to survive that era on the wide open prairie. I heard that the farmers at least had food to eat by way of livestock – the gardens and fields were eaten or blown away…
It is with great appreciation and awe that I think of my grandparents and great grandparents on the plains of North Dakota as I watch the dirty air and pray for rain.