Monday, September 25, 2017

Cotton fields

My job took me to Fayette today. That's in the western part of Alabama. It seems like every house has a tractor. Rows of cotton seem to stretch to infinity. In years past, it was a crop that took a lot of manual labor to take it from seed to the tee shirt on my back. But these days, machines do a lot of the backbreaking work.

Picking cotton was one of the first gigs I had when I was a kid. My friend who lived next door made it sound like making a pocketful of money picking cotton was easy.

It didn't take me long in the hot September sun to realize there was NOTHING easy about picking cotton. But that was a valuable life experience. A few years back when I was thinking about taking a part-time job, I knew without question that I did not want to be a cotton picker.

But driving through cotton always makes me feel nostalgic though I couldn't tell you why.  A late morning appointment kept me from leaving in time for a leisurely drive and didn't have time to tarry on the way up. But after I finished my coaching sessions, I had time to stop and take a picture on the way home.

I pulled the truck off the edge of the road in the high weeds and flipped on my flashers. That wasn't necessary because traffic on those roads is almost non-existent. I stepped over the ditch separating the road from the fields and walked a few rows into the cotton.

After taking the picture, I stood for a long while listening to the wind and watching the clouds. Off in the distance, I heard a hawk. Shielding my eyes against the evening sun, I looked into the sky trying to find the bird. I never did see it but I knew it was there.

Seeing the bowls of cotton reminded me that even though it was still hot as a road flare, that autumn would be here soon. When I buckled back into my truck and cranked the engine. I wiped my forehead with a KFC napkin slipping the beast into gear. I thought to myself, autumn can't get here soon enough to suit me.


  1. I never picked cotton but I read it was a back-breaking job.

  2. We live right off of Cotton Lane ... bordered on two sides by cotton fields. Perhaps I should pick me a souvenir?

  3. Any of the picking jobs are hard. Very, very hard.
    I hope that autumn arrives for you soon.

  4. I have never picked cotton or even seen a cotton plant in real life. I always wanted to but I heard they are horrible to pick. We have been having 32 C temps which suck but by Thursday it will be down to 20.....can't wait!

  5. We pass many of these fields in South Carolina. I have never picked one but have always been tempted to pull over and snatch one from the patch. When I was in school we were taught a lot about cotton as there were many cotton mills in my area. When A student brought in a cotton plant, it was always the coolest thing!

  6. I have seen cotton fields that were like white clouds, very pretty. Your photo shows cotton that are not in full bloom yet or maybe the cotton was already picked. I'm not sure at what stage it's at... I think a cotton plants would make a nice decoration. I think they are so pretty and interesting.
    Hugs, Julia

  7. Cotton is one crop I haven't seen here in Ohio. But we do have plenty of harvesting going on here. I too am ready for fall weather. We've been having a heat wave here. It wasn't this hot in July and August.

  8. I am so glad you took that moment to stop and smell the cotton fields, so much past history for our country in the cotton industry.
    Enjoy it all and by the way happy fall to you and yours!

  9. I understand picking cotton is brutal, backbreaking work. A hard job.

  10. What a good picture of the cotton. Seems it is planted much closer than when I was a kid. I was just studying the picture for awhile when my girl leans over my shoulder singing 'When dem cotton bowls get rotten you don't.......'.
    She worked in a hosiery mill, her family worked their whole lives in a cotton mill. She never picked cotton, but I did (one day!) ;-)

  11. Thanks for the photo of cotton plants. We don't grow cotton here in South Australia as I understand it needs a lot of water and that's in short supply here. We do grow grapes here so we are not short on something to drink!


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