Dust Bowl, 1930’s

The Dust Bowl
is part of our story.
Our parents and grandparents
lived through those days
when drought and wind
and farming practices
created a perfect storm
that blew the topsoil into the sky
in mammoth clouds of dust.
Great “black blizzards”
blew across the prairies
during an eight-year drought.
Many Oklahoma farmers had to leave.
Our grandparents were able stay on the farm.
All our lives
we’ve heard the stories,
seen the photographs,
read the books,
watched the movies.
These last two years,
we’ve been told that drought conditions
are worse than they were in the Dust Bowl days.
But farming procedures—
especially the building of terraces—
and other conservation practices
have lessened the great soil erosion
of the 1930’s.
In the summer,
when wheat ground is bare
and the wind kicks up,
soil blows into the sky,
turning it reddish-brown.
But yesterday
we got a better glimpse
of what the sky looked like
during Dust Bowl Days.
Conditions are all too familiar.
We’re in a two-plus-year-old
“exceptional-extreme” drought,
so this year farmers are “dusting in”
their wheat seed,
hoping for rain.
On many big, square, treeless fields,
the soil has been worked into a fine seed bed
and since there has not been significant rain,
farmers are drilling the wheat into the dust.
Yesterday,
with hours of sustained 35-mile-an-hour wind
out of the northwest
and gusts up to 55 miles an hour,
that fine topsoil once again
blew into the air
filling the sky,
turning it brown,
even hiding the sun.
Thirty miles north of us,
visibility was 0 to 10 feet
and 35 cars and trucks collided
on Interstate 35,
which was then closed
for several hours.
Today, the Dust Bowl
is on everyone’s mind
and lips.
We thought it would never happen
again.
Climate change
brings many surprises.

Yesterday, on Interstate 35 near Blackwell, OK