Baxter Black: Corn Country Landscape

Corn country landscape – painted late summer – high clouds, heavy with moisture waiting for afternoon to thicken and darken and start raising Cain.

You can see for miles. Brown, green, yellow patchwork pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. Feedlots in the distance, their pens spread out like dark blankets on the side of a hill.

On the horizon to the north and south I can count three spray planes circling over the corn like buzzards. They are so far away I cannot hear them.

Closer I can see circle sprinkler lines leapfrogging over the tops of corn rows taller than a pickup and thick as pile carpeting. The stalks stand straight and tasseled. They remind me of a crowd waiting to hear the Pope. An orderly group. Corn is seldom unruly.

The fields of sunflowers are less organized. They are Woodstockers, jostling and stretching to get a glimpse of the morning’s performer.

Suddenly I pass a farmstead. Acres of lawn with a butch haircut from the side of the road to the first row of corn. Who mows all this, I ask. A windbreak. Deep green, paint-by-number rows of pine trees and juniper. Beautiful, yet somehow out of place.

A fresh tilled field pushes within a few feet of the road. It smells strong, heavy on my lungs. On this humid morning it reminds me of chocolate cake.

I drop into a creek bottom. Cows of all colors lay like mixed nuts spilled on a green carpet. Bleached round bales hunker along the fence row like melting clumps of sticky candy. I follow the pretty three-line power poles festooned with mushroom-like insulators. Proud they are in their orderliness, functional yet outdated. The DC3’s of corn country leading me back up.

Two giant 8-wheel jointed tractors sit visiting with each other in a quarter section field laying fallow. Resting? I don’t know, maybe just waiting.

More cornfield city blocks. Each row seems to have its seed company sign out front like a mailbox; Mr. Pioneer, Mr. Producers, Mr. Bayer, Mr. Corn States.

The next town comes into view. A water tower and grain elevator.

The implement dealer has his monsters on display along Main street. Like elephants in the circus standing side by side, one foot on the stool, one in the air, trunk raised. Lesser implements parked beyond like resting butterflies, wings folded.

I turn left at the one stoplight. Coffee time.



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