|A jumble of memories|
Uncle Bob was not my uncle. He was my dad's cousin, but the closest thing to family we had. He also was not a cowboy
, but if you saw his slow, bow-legged saunter, his cowboy hat, his blue jeans and western snap-fasten shirts, that's what you might think. You wouldn't know by looking that he was the canniest dry-land farmer in the Great Plains
of Eastern Colorado. He was born and raised in the part of Colorado without mountain peaks
and rich soil.
His landscape was wide and flat and dry. Dirt roads
in the ditches marked the edges of native grassland
pasture and wheat fields
. Uncle Bob had a deep understanding of the land he farmed, never succumbing to "the grass is greener
" mentality of irrigation. He was a dry-land farmer whose harvest
depended on the land and the weather. There were good years with enough moisture, and plenty of years with dust devils
and tumbleweeds before the rain
came...or didn't come. In the summer, many a cumulonimbus
cloud appeared on the horizon, only to take its rain elsewhere, but perhaps also its hail. A winter blizzard
was a mixed blessing of wind that carried topsoil away and brought moisture that did or didn't cover the fields to nourish the winter wheat. Uncle Bob secured his success by collaborating with the land and the climate, but he allied with another of the vast natural resources of Eastern Colorado for his final venture -- harvesting the wind with graceful lines of enormous turbines.
In my mind, it is night. I stand in the dusty yard where I played as a child, rusty
tractors along the fence, the Milky Way
a bright smear across the impossibly dark sky. Uncle Bob is in it all -- land, sky, and wind.