A good crack of thunder boomed, and the rain let loose just as the waitress came back to clear our plates. “Listen at that,” she clucked. “Don’t we need it!” We do, we agreed. The hayfi elds aren’t half what they should be. “Let’s hope it’s a good long one,” she said, pausing with our plates balanced on her arm, continuing to watch out the window for a good long minute.

“And that it’s not so hard that it washes everything out.” It is not my intention here to lionize country wisdom over city ambition. I only submit that the children of farmers are likely to know where food comes from, and that the rest of us might do well to pay attention. For our family, something turned over that evening in the diner: a gaspump cashier’s curse of drought was lifted by a waitress’s simple, agricultural craving for rain. I thought to myself:

There is hope for us. Who is us, exactly? I live now in a county whose economic base is farming. A disastrous summer will mean some of our neighbors will lose their farms. Others will have to keep farming and go looking for a job at the end of a long commute.


We’ll feel the effects in school enrollments, local businesses, shifts in land use and tax structure. The health of our streams, soils, and forests is also at stake, as lost farms get sold to developers whose business is to rearrange (drastically) the topsoil and everything on it. When I recognize good agricultural sense, though, I’m not just thinking of my town but also my species

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