Time brings maturity and can shift a person’s experiences and outlook from another time and place into an entirely new way of seeing and understanding. So it was last week when I stood alone in a field full of cotton growing in the Virginia sun. As far as I could see there was row upon row of the beautiful dark green plants with their beautiful creamy white blossoms. I gently pulled back some of the leaves here and there to see if I could find any of the bolls which were sure to come and which would eventually morph into the hard shells containing the cotton fibers and seeds.
Standing in this field and looking out on the crop I was taken back to my maternal grandfather’s Alabama farm and his cotton field across the road from his modest farmhouse. I well remember the summers of throwing a huge patchwork towsack across my shoulder and stooping over for hours to coax the cotton from its hard and prickly shell – endless, endless rows of cotton. Of course when you are very young and doing a chore like this, all you can think of is getting it over with as quickly as possible and in my case looking forward to riding on top of the truck’s bed filled with the fluff emptied from countless towsacks and taking the trip to the cotton gin with my granddaddy. I’m glad I had that experience as a youngster, to stand in high cotton.
Photos by Joel Woodard