Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Standing in Tall Cotton

The hub, freshly back from England and China and driving by the local cotton fields blurts out "Standing tall in cotton." What? I had never heard such a remark. I kind of giggled and had to ask the meaning. Supposedly it goes back to cotton growers. When the cotton was tall, it was good for picking. Tall cotton is good cotton. I think it's my favorite new phrase now. I am definitely standing in tall cotton; and I thank my lucky stars.

All summer, so many of us city folk were wondering what all these crops were. Was it soy? Or alfalfa? Nope. Now we know. Cotton. Truthfully, I've never been close to a cotton crop before. Not even a plant. With the hub in the cotton biz and my mother picking it as a young girl, I figured it was high time I stopped and smelled the cotton, so to speak. What an amazing plant. I now see why my mom says it was such hard work picking the stuff. Ouch. If you didn't know, you'd think it was all dead (like the kid thought). The hub taught us a little in cotton growing as we passed each field bursting with white.

Mom says her entire family had to pick cotton just to get by. She remembered when she was still too young to pick being in the fields watching her sisters and brothers pick. When she was old enough, one of her brothers made a special bag, just her size, that she would wear on her chest to put the cotton in. The other bags were way too big for a child her age. Her brothers called her "Smut" because she was so dark from working in the sun as she refused to wear a hat to cover her face. She says she would come home with her fingers numb and bleeding from a day's work. I borrowed the above picture from Wikepedia. It looks like a picture right out of one of her albums, handwriting and all. I can't even imagine what hard work that was for a child in the heat of a Georgia summer.

I was so tempted to pick a boll. Just to feel it, to feel how sticky the plant around the soft cotton is. To imagine how hard it would have been to pick with little fingers as my mom once did. But I didn't. Instead, I picked up a small plant that had fallen over. I brought it home for the kid to see. I put it out on display. An ode to the hub and to my mom. Standing in tall cotton.

We later found it mauled by Bella all over the kitchen. Guess she thinks differently of the stuff.


Peggy said...

we are surrounded by cotton fields and they are using their big machines to pick it even after dark they are still going. Its neat to see the picked cotton all baled up. I always pick up a few stems that have been left behind and make a arrangement for my table with them

Artsy said...

Cotton is neat. We have a lot of it here, where I live. The harvest is close. Have you seen how pretty cotton blossoms are? Lovely creamy yellow.

Beth said...

I grew up in Northern Alabama and had cotton galore!!! My Dad's office was right next to a cotton gin and I Loved the smell of the gin! I don't think I would want to pick it though, cuz I don't like them bowlweevils,,lol.
Miss You,,hope your having a nice break!!

Vallen said...

The first time I saw cotton on the bush was near where you are. I was amazed how it stuck to everything and couldn't imagine how people could spend their lives picking it by hand. I picked up a scrap that was near the side of the road. There's a lot of history in one little boll isn't there?

ChrisJ said...

I have never seen a cotton field and I'd really like to. I knew it was really hard work to pick it and that it made the picker's fingers bleed. Loved your photos. One day we'll travel the states we haven't visited before. For me that would be Georgia and the South. (Born in England, so that gives me a bit of an excuse.)

Mrs. Staggs said...

Some of my family picked cotton, and a lot of them worked in cotton mills...for 10 cents an hour. It wasn't the best of times for them, but it helped, along with running moonshine, to pull them up in the world.
I saw bouquets of this in the green grocers and flower marts on the streets of NYC, one December, and I thought how wonderful it would look in a snow scene, with snowmen all around.
I hate black eyed peas! Pink ones too! It's pretty much the one, vegetable/legume sort fo thing, that I don't like. Isn't that weird? My family makes them Jan. 1st for good luck.

ShabbyInTheCity said...

Someone near us tried to grow cotton one year and it was so pretty! I think they lost it in the end. I was so disappointed because I wanted to see fields of it!

weirdbunny said...

What a fantastic post, I've never seen a cotton plant before.

LauraJ said...

I read a really good book, it involves picking cotton...It's called A (or the) Painted House. By John Grishim...and it's not a law book. Through the eyes of a 7 year old boy through the depression on a cotton farm.

Anonymous said...

My FIL started picking cotton at 7 in South Texas in the 1940's! Can you imagine? Poor little guy, he dropped out of school at that age to go work the fields just to be able to bring-in a little bit of money for their family and then he was driven unmercilessly by his Dad afterwards to work on their little farm and on his one day off too. Just imagine, I can't.



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