Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cactus and Cotton

Cole Porter once composed a song called “Summertime”, in which he wrote; “the living is easy, the fish are jumping and the cotton is high….” Well, he was right on three out of the four; I don’t have any fish; but my cotton is getting higher. It’s a pity he didn’t mention the cactus though, because mine just keeps on blooming, rain or shine. As a matter of fact, the last two blooms have emerged in the middle of sultry, rainy nights, upending my previous belief that they only bloomed in the hot desert sun. The cactus was a gift from my daughter, and this is the 4th time it has bloomed in the last several months.

Now; let me get back to the cotton. I have only had one previous experience in growing cotton. That was about 10 years ago on the back porch of the house we were living in at the time. I had quite a crop. There were about 6 plants in all, which is like a plantation to someone from Brooklyn. The seeds come up fast, in only a few days, then after a few more weeks the little pink flowers; which soon turn white; appear. These are the harbingers of the cotton bolls which will take their place, eventually becoming hard and wood like husks protecting the precious cotton growing within.

My crop is small. Mostly, I just take a certain joy out of the plant and its little white balls of fluff. It amazes me; as do most things; that there is a code embedded within these tiny seeds which never changes.  It’s eternal.
There is nothing quite like a field of cotton in bloom, it looks like snow has fallen. There are several cotton fields near my house, which is where I got the seeds last fall. I have given some of the cotton balls which I picked then; and contain the seeds; to some of the kids down the street. I hope that they will have success with them.

There is little that can be compared to watching a seed grow into something as majestic as fully grown cotton.  It’s like looking at the history of ancient Egypt; and also like peeking into our own American past, when cotton was king, and human beings were enslaved for the harvest. And, in spite of the beautiful view, if you look at the fields hard enough, you can almost imagine hearing the crack of the whip.

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