Eco-Living Magazine

Dry Paper Notes: Written While Harvesting Wheat in Montana (Part 1 of a Series)

Posted on the 14 September 2011 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Dry Paper Notes: Written While Harvesting Wheat in Montana (Part 1 of a Series)(This series will veer from our usual content).

We’ve had several posts about the distance between modern life and the natural world. In our cities with our gadgets we forget or don’t really get to know the natural world. We don’t know or care where our food comes from, and it can be said we sometimes don’t know or care even what the weather is. We can go from house/apartment to bus/car/train to work/school/mall without much contact with nature and sometimes without even going outside. Our lives are comfortable but sometimes we scrub ourselves out of the larger natural world.

Today, while I was sitting on the 15th floor of a Tokyo skyscraper working on my computer to prepare material for an upcoming meeting, I had an out of the blue memory. That memory was of running through the hills of Garland Ranch State Park in Carmel Valley near Monterey, California. I’d often go there to run when I was going to graduate school. California has always had a certain affect on me (I think many people feel the same) and this one particular park has always stood out as a place of beauty: the smell of the trees, the dusty paths, Carmel Creek running toward the ocean 8 miles away, chaparral and oak trees, shade and light as the sun sets over the hills and the day cools off; ahh, California…

When I got back home tonight, I started looking through past notes and thinking about what to write for a new post for the website, still thinking about California and the simple joy of being out and exploring what it – the land and the natural surroundings – had to offer. I stumbled across notes I took back in 2000. It was the August after my junior year in college and I had spent the summer training for the decathlon in Missoula, MT while working at Foot Locker and painting cabins in Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada to earn some cash. Once training was over and before I drove back to Atlanta for senior year, I was able to get a gig working for a farmer in Havre, Montana. My job was to drive a truck filled with harvested grain to the silos and back to the field where Farmer would fill it with grain from the combine. I had never been on such a farm, much less had any experience harvesting wheat. In my downtime between runs, I decided to write some notes in the margins and the empty pages of an old The Brothers Karamazov novel I had with me. Reading them over now, in addition to nostalgia, I’m struck by some of the descriptions and feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere observing and experiencing nature in a way that was different for me. Even if wheat fields are not necessarily “nature” in its essence, the opportunity afforded me the chance to build an appreciation for the land that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I hope that comes through to you as you read the memo style, stream-of-consciousness below. We’ve seen the ferocious and violent chaos that nature can wreck. That’s one unfortunate, paradoxical condition we have to deal with in living on such a vibrant, life-sustaining planet. On the other side, this planet provides us with everything we need to survive.

This series will be different from our other posts. We won’t be introducing a new green product or featuring a company. There will be none of the usually lingo- sustainability, recycling, biomimicry, triple bottom line etc.- just some observations from Montana farmland. In addition to some description of what it is like to harvest wheat, I hope a little bit of Big Sky country – and how its natural surroundings made an impression on me- comes across in these random lines written over a decade ago.

Dry Paper Notes

I don’t know where this will go, if anywhere, but I’m going to write anyway. We’ll see what comes up. I’m sitting in an enormous wheat field just north of Havre, MT and about 20-30 miles from Canada. Yesterday was my first day and it went well. I’ll spare details right now. I have no concept of time let for the sun. I arise when farmer asks me “Justin, you ready to come alive?” I am. Then it’s all day in the fields. (to be continued…)


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