Posted on January 22, 2021
The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered the farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby wood stove. Yellowed Christmas cards, saved over the years and perched like doves in the untrimmed branches, served as ornaments.
“I believe this […]
Posted on December 9, 2020
Rural people often reminisce by years. The general rule for any talk about “good” or “bad” years is that good years rarely merit as much mention as great years and great years usually play second fiddle to bad years.
The reason that challenging or tough years like 2019 and 2020 leave an impression is not […]
Posted on November 11, 2020
Ten or so years ago a friend asked if I would help him move a gun safe from his garage to his basement. I agreed not knowing what I was in for.
I had heard of gun safes; I just hadn’t ever seen one. My father’s “safe” was a corner living room closet where […]
Posted on October 28, 2020
Somewhere in southern Illinois there’s a high school yearbook that contains a photo of me and another student leaning against a classroom wall on either side of a 1972 campaign poster of a smiling Richard Nixon. The caption writer, another student, notes that my buddy and I are “standing” with our man, the then-incumbent president.
Posted on October 28, 2020
Some books are worth more in your hand and on your shelf than they are as electrons in your e-reader. These books, and their authors, are valued friends and you return to them often for information, advice, and comfort.
Two downsizing moves in the last 15 years have pared my library to a few shelves […]
Posted on October 7, 2020
In March 1919, John Reed, an American journalist, published Ten Days that Shook the World, his eyewitness book on one of the new century’s most defining events, the Russian Revolution.
Eighty years later, Reed’s groundbreaking work was still shaking the world. New York University ranked it seventh on its list of the 20th century’s 100 most consequential works. […]
Posted on September 30, 2020
My grandmother was both a woman of her times and a woman far ahead of even our times. For example, today’s electric cars would be a yawn for her; she rode in them “before the war.”
World War I, that is. Grandma (her given name was Ruth) was born in 1902 and lived 86 active […]
Posted on July 29, 2020
Mid-July was always summer’s sweet spot on the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth.
With June’s rush of sweaty work—wheat harvest, straw baling, laying corn by, cultivating soybeans, and weed spraying—finally complete and before another cutting of alfalfa was ready, mid-July slipped in with treats like fresh peaches, sweet corn, and juicy garden tomatoes.
Mid-July also […]
Posted on July 6, 2020
The first African American I really interacted with was not an American but was, in fact, an African. He was a Nigerian graduate student who served as a teaching assistant to the “discussion session” of a political science class I took at the Big U in 1973.
That I was nearly 20 years old […]
Posted on June 10, 2020
For over a month now, nearly anyone who can lift a fork has asked what the “new normal” in American agriculture will be after Covid-19 loosens its terrible grip.
Six weeks later, we now have a pretty good idea that ag’s new normal will look like ag’s old normal even if it takes a […]