• Tag Archives Red Cloud
  • Ogallala Blue

    Beltane                                                                                Early Growth Moon

    A post written this time by Woolly Bill Schmidt.  My comment below.

    From Bill:

    We may be able to ignore the effect that humans have on global warming or even deny that it is happening.  It is difficult to explain away the effect that we humans (farmers in this case) are having on an important earth resource.  And the farmers are crying because they can no longer farm in ways that don’t make sense relative to what they are given.  Maybe it is time to pay attention to our local environments and live/farm within the limits of what is provided by earth environments.  Tapping the aquifers to irrigate farm land is like shooting yourself in the foot.  The aquifer is not infinite and pretty soon you don’t even have enough water to drink.

    Here’s a link to a New York Times article about the plight of Kansas (Midwestern) farmers who have robbed the aquifer and now it is drying up.

    “And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.

    The irony of using insane amounts of water for fracking to get more oil would be laughable if it were not so sad. Literally hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day are being used for this process, poisoned by who knows what chemicals and with a fraction, if any, of that water being recovered.”


    This is the cost of pumping 1,600 gallons per minute to irrigate farm land.  And on page 2 of this article, the same farmer is continuing to drill more wells.  Reminds me of a song:  Pete Seeger “Where have all the flowers gone” —  “When will we ever learn.”


    My Willa Cather Moment With This Problem

    I’ve told this story to the Woollies and others many times, I imagine, a sort of recurring tale like so many offer to others, unaware of their repetitiveness.  But, it’s worth retelling.

    Twice I’ve visited Red Cloud, Nebraska, a small town on the Kansas/Nebraska border, and home to Willa Cather, a favorite American regional author of mine:  Death Comes for the Archbishop, O’ Pioneers, The Professor and many others.

    In the Willa Cather Center there I remember, back in 2005 or so, speaking with the folks behind the desk.  It was really hot, 107 or so, and we got to talking about climate change and agriculture.  Since I have a long standing interest in the Ogallala Aquifer, I asked about irrigation.

    The conversation became animated because it turned out that in the spring, when the farmers began irrigating their fields, the towns wells would go dry.  It seems they’ve pumped the aquifer out enough that the volume of water available in their area can’t sustain the needs of both town and country.

    Here’s a good resource on this issue, which nuances it:  Ogallala Blue.

  • Falling in Love

    Imbolc                                                                 Valentine Moon

    “I really fell in love with that part of the world,” says Cynthia Hopkins of the Arctic, where she journeyed with other artists in 2010. “I also fell in love with the boat we were on.”  author of This Clement World opening at the Guthrie

    My promiscuity.  I shamelessly fall in love over and over again when I travel.  Bangkok’s quirky Chinatown, especially on the weekend with all those restaurants set up on the sidewalks and folks walking in the densely trafficked street.  Angkor in all its viney, scorpion infested, land-mined Hindu strangeness.  Inverness and its smoky river, walking there with Kate.  Why do we ever have to leave?  That little restaurant, Crispie’s was it, just down from the Internazionale in Rome.  The Ringstrasse in Vienna.  The left bank in Paris.

    (oh, yeah, Romania.  A more recent love.)

    Then there was Ushuaia, that frowsy scamp of a town as far south as you can get in the Americas.  And, god, just before her, those Chilean fjords.  Let me off the boat.  Give me a small house, an internet connection and forget about me until, well, forever.  Montevideo, too.  Friendly, beefy, colorful.  Old world European with a Latin twist.

    I suppose I’d have to mention those old, first loves, too.  Chicago, city of roast beef sandwiches, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, Hyde Park.  D.C. and all its power, its monuments and museums.  And yes, like so many before me, I had a brief fling with San Francisco, but she’s so expensive, a real high-maintenance gal.

    Of course, there are a few I keep, stable-like, harems of places that I visit like a ghost Sultan, flitting in and out, but always returning for one more time.  Lake Superior, especially the true north shore, the part in Ontario.  The Georgian bay of Lake Huron.  Those rocky mountains lying just at the limits of my home turf here in the U.S.  All majesty and purple.

    Savannah and Charleston, yes.  The south is a guilty pleasure, that one with the dark desires, visited always with an eye to the road back north.  New Orleans, oh yes.  Dark queen of the south.  I’m sure I could return to the Okefenokee swamp.  And I confess to two trips to Red Cloud, Nebraska.  Those Grand Tetons.  Yes.  Cody, Wyoming. Yes.  Ely and the north woods.  Yes.

    You see, I’m the tramp really.  Letting my heart go, letting it all go.  Loving this place and that.  I’m easy, I guess.