I left a once-agricultural community to attend a land grant university, but my major wasn’t farming; it was literature and writing. I didn’t think much about “the cotton fields back home” for quite a few years.
Even though I grew up amid cotton fields, I never really paid attention to what I took for granted would always be. I was an adult before I realized that cotton goes through five stages during its maturation cycle, each of them quite beautiful.
The fist stage is brief: small, simple white blooms open and last only about a day. It would be easy to miss this offering unless looking for it. Once the white bloom self-pollinates, the flower becomes pink and opens more fully. Though this second stage is also fleeting – lasting only a day or two – the blossoms turn to glorious hues of purple or fuchsia.
Sadly – but not really – the vibrant flowers quickly turn brown, shrivel, and fall off. The upside to losing the pretty blooms is that now the cotton bolls will begin to take shape. As they grow larger, the bolls, too, go through several transformations until they crack open to reveal another magnificent manifestation, the cotton ball itself.
I miss the beauty of the fields that surrounded me growing up. The natural world is filled with transformations and miracles and wisdom, but we self-important humans seem to be a bit slow on learning what Nature has to teach us.
Last year, I had to say a sad goodbye to the Medicinal Plant Garden on Auburn’s campus. It was my favorite place, and where I went to think and learn. It is now another parking lot, another paradise paved over in the name of progress.
On the bright side, I can walk a short distance from my house and be smack in the middle of corn and cotton fields. My house is walking- distance from “Cullar’s Rotation,” an agricultural research field that is the oldest soil fertility study in the south.
That’s where I plan to continue my education, and what a great teacher Mother Nature is.
Marian Carcache welcomes
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