Having grown up in Kentucky, I knew nothing about cotton fields until I moved to south central Tennessee. Now, I am in cotton country, and on my long drive to Sewanee every day, I pass by many fields of cotton. And soybean. And corn. But mostly cotton. When I first moved here, I was fascinated with the cotton pods and begged my husband to stop on the side of the road so that I could reach through a fence and pick a branch off one of the cotton plants. It was such strange, foreign stuff to me, and I wanted to see it up close, touch it, smell it, take it apart and see exactly what it looked like (this has carried over from my childhood...inquiring minds want to know, you know).
The first year I lived here, I visited a farm so that I could watch the big machines vacuum up the cotton. I even went to a cotton gin so that I could see exactly what happens to the cotton once it leaves the field. This was one of the highlights of moving here for me. The machinery that processes cotton absolutely fascinates me.
Something I am less thrilled with, however, is the mess that is left behind once the fields are picked. Cotton is not a pretty plant once the fluffy white cotton pods are gone. The stalky, leggy, brownish gray sticks protrude from the ground looking rather pitiful (and dangerous), if you ask me. Beginning in October, the sides of the highways are littered with cotton once the machines begin their work, and for many more months, stalks are left in the fields to wither and become even more brittle. An emptied cotton field looks so forlorn to me. When I pass by them in November, they always reminds me of the frosty fields of snow I would see back home in Kentucky...except the frost is cotton that never made it into the giant vacuum cleaner. It makes my drive to work seem much colder than it actually is! I have to remind myself that I am not seeing a dusting of snow in the distance!
I can see much beauty in the baren winter landscape, but I admit that it is very difficult for me to find anything lovely about a graying cotton field. And here I am - it's not even December yet, and I am already looking forward to spring plowing time! At least where the cotton fields are concerned.