Monday, April 23, 2007

"The Worst Hard Time"

I am currently reading "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan. It is about the Great American Dust Bowl --i.e. where I live but about 75 years earlier. It's very interesting reading for no other reason than that I know of the places about which he speaks. In fact, today I drove across a big chunk of the area that was considered the heart of the Dust Bowl. It is hard to imagine that this is the same country described in the book. Although, I guess it shouldn't be that difficult to imagine. I grew up with the wind. I love the wind. I miss the wind any time that I am where it isn't blowing. It blew all day today but there was no dust.

Farming practices have changed this land so that it is unlikely that we will see another Dust Bowl time like is described in the book. Most of the land that is under cultivation today is irrigated farmland -- not dryland. Much of the land that had been farmed as dryland wheat in the days of the Dust Bowl is now in CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) grass. The land generally is not left tilled and unplanted through the winter months as it was during that time (early 1930's). I don't always agree with the Farm Bill each year, but it helps to keep us from having another Dust Bowl and in fact, to a large extent, the annual Farm Bill grew out of the Dust Bowl.

One frustration that I have with the book though, is that there are occasionally things that I think the author didn't research completely. In fact, I wonder if he visited this country at all. I'm not arguing with the primary parts of his narrative, just the odd detail here and there. I grew up in this country. I've travelled it for years. My grandparents went through the Dust Bowl and told me stories about it. It is a story of a tough, hardy breed of survivors. I just hate it that there are a few details that don't quite add up with what I know from experience and from first-hand accounts. I suppose that's the way it is with any account of history not written by those who were there. In spite of that, I highly recommend the book.


Blazing Cat Fur said...

Global warming caused the Dust Bowl.

Panhandle Poet said...

Now that, "blazing cat fur", is the best chuckle I've had all week!