Monday, September 20, 2004

Beautiful and Deadly

TOBACCO AND FARM BOYS  

While traveling around the beautiful country side last week I noticed the breathtaking golden yellow of the burley tobacco fields. This crop is gorgeous when it is ready for harvest.  Postage stamp acres of vivid colors along side the roads.

I come from a rural community where school could not start until after the season. If you tried to get the kids into class any earlier, you were wasting your time. They were needed at home to cut and house the tobacco, which is accomplished typically end of August till mid-September. When I was young, the kids from the farms all participated in the growing and selling of tobacco...(pronounced tobacca)...and the profits! I was astonished to hear that so and so had made a thousand dollars! He was all of 14! It is hard, back breaking, dirty work any age.

Tobacco is not profitable anymore. The government pays the farmers not to grow it! Those postage stamp fields that dot the countryside are smaller and smaller and more spread out. Efforts have been made to introduce replacement crops such as fruits and more vegetables. Wineries have become very vogue in central Kentucky. Can you think of anything better than your own personal winery?

When I see these tobacco fields my thought wander back to those days and those times that included the farm boys of my youth. The old Ford trucks they drove with the rusted out beds and dented sides. Pitch fork and brooms proudly displayed behind the cab in those little holes. White t-shirts and brown skin. The smell of sweat, bourbon and cigarette smoke.

To this day, when I smell bourbon  I find it terribly erotic.

 

20 comments:

ksquester said...

Mary, I loved this entry. My husband was one of the young guys who picked tobacca. He still has the scar on his upper arm where the spike went through it. I know what you mean about the bourbon. Jim still orders bourbon and branch. I miss this time of year in my home state, thanks for the memories.   Anne

camaroisle050856 said...

Isn't it amazing how a smell can evoke feelings?

Best wishes,
Debi

redhdka said...

Oh i loved this entry. mmmm farmers

donah42 said...

I never knew any farm boys, but from your description I'm sure I would've lusted after them :)

readmereadyou said...

You took me to Kentucky. Very nice descriptive writing. I wanted to see the fields. Well, in my mind's eye, I did

mlraminiak said...

Isn't it funny, the things that can bring on a fit of nostalgia?  Sounds beautiful, but you're right...beautiful and deadly.  Lisa  :-]

sistercdr said...

William Faulkner's grand-daughter once said that he smelled like whiskey, tobacco, leather and horses.  The idea makes me shiver.

judithheartsong said...

oh and the smell of the tobacco barns.... heavenly.

sonensmilinmon said...

What a wonderful entry.  I find it amazing how some smells can trigger your memories.  

Monica

svenskagrl said...

Ah yes.  My sister worked tobacca when she was 14.  She, a lilly white suburban kid, would get off the bus with about a 1/4 inch of dirt covering any bare skin.  She made a lot of money.  They wouldn't take me, prolly thought I was a wimp.

belfastcowboy75 said...

A beautifully evocative entry. Erotic? I'm going to have Amy put some bourbon and tobacco in my pot pourri.

karensull12 said...

Wonderful photo.  Great memory.

cneinhorn said...

wonderful memory, beautiful photo and some interesting information, I didn't know that the Government pays farmers NOT to grow tobacco....kentucky wine....hmmmm.......I'll have to try some!
~jerseygirl
http://journals.aol.com/cneinhorn/WonderGirl    

mrccgoody said...

I was just thinking the other day, on the way to my grandparent's farm, how funny it was that the only crop I know right away when I see it is tobacco.  Tu-back-uh.  It's more recognizable to me than corn!

garyvp said...

Lovely entry. Hypnotic writing and images and a final line that delivers a knock out punch.

kathleenggoode said...

Your entry reminds me of one of the first movies I stayed awake alone watching when I was a child.  It was about two battling tobacco dynasties, and I believe there was a Romeo and Juliet type story line with their children.  Up until I watched that movie, I never gave it much thought where my parent’s cigarette ingredients came from. Human ecology is always disturbing something; it leaves me to wonder which is worst, a plant (tobacco) reaping havoc on man, or a synthetic (crack) reaping havoc on humanity.

http://journals.aol.com/kathleenggoode/WavingNotDrowning/

andreakingme said...

Hmmm, I hope your hubby knows this.

krobbie67 said...

Great entry! And, beautiful picture! This reminds me of when I lived in Maine. We got off from school for three weeks in September because of the potatoe harvest. I actually worked picking potatoes during that time. I was up at the crack of dawn and came home when it was dark but I had a blast and made a few bucks too.
:-) ---Robbie

mavarin said...

Thanks for a glimpse at an aspect of tobacco I never knew or thought about. In Manlius it was all corn and dairy. Here it's cotton, pecan groves, oranges or nothing. Not a big farming state, Arizona.

GREAT picture, too! - Karen

k2plus2 said...

Wow.  Very cool entry.  Beautifully written.  Takes me there. . . my Mom's family is from SE KY and it is gorgeous there.  I love going back and walking in the older places and seeing the things that haven't changes, and then the things that have.  Your poetic words ensure the memories and experiences will go on.  Thanks for sharing.  Kris