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A Work of Fiction

crop duster picture.jpg
Picture, 8/15/08, taken from the north side of our yard

Sometime in the not distant future.

My heart ran cold hearing the single engine plane circling above the township. I tasted the metallic bite of fear in my mouth as I glimpsed the plane to the west. The plane flew low, I wondered if it was some kind of reconnaissance.

My mind flashed back to the first time I’d seen a plane over this land. I was pregnant with my oldest daughter when a crop duster came to spray the corn crops to the north and the east of the house- right along side the house and yard. That would be 14 years ago now. I was so angry then—furious that I couldn’t protect myself and my unborn babe from the pesticides that were sprayed all over. We were just visiting my in-laws for the weekend. The farm was still theirs then and we lived in the city—safe from crop dusters. In fact, in those days part of my job was to reduce children’s and pregnant women’s exposure to pesticides. I remember feeling completely impotent to even protect myself and rage at my helplessness.

Later, after we had moved to the farm for good, I remember one day hearing and seeing the crop duster fly by. By then we’d been struggling a couple years to keep things going with spotty electric and even spottier access to diesel fuel. It was a comfort, to the point of tears, to see that plane in the sky tending crops the “old? way. We didn’t have the connections and resources to buy seed corn and pesticides, but someone around here still could. If they could, that meant that there was still a system in place producing them. Things might get back to normal. It was a thrill to see that plane—it made my heart swell with pride for the sophisticated technology.

That was nine years ago and we’d seen no planes since. This plane felt like a bad omen. We’d been relatively free from looters over the years. Our crops our own--taking care of our neighbors as we could. Maybe we were faring better than others in the wider world, who knew? I regretted for the first time the garden and crops laid out in straight rows that my husband was so proud of; a clear sign from the air of our relative “prosperity.? I was stunned by the next thoughts that went through my mind—could it be shot down? As the plane flew out of sight to the east I heard its engine whining and a distant repercussion.

None of us would be going to see what had happened to that plane, though I could guess. Today four families were gathering to make cheese. I subconsciously ran the math on the number of calories we would store up for the winter ahead. Enough calories for our 3 children for 3 weeks. This would be a good day after all.


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I still remember how angry Mother was when she was living at Aunt Margaret's and the crop duster damaged several of her trees in the windbreak + Mother was also allergic to the spray. You have given me a whole new prespective on this subject. Thanks, Bev

I remember how angry Mother was while living at Aunt Margaret's when a crop duster damaged some of the trees in the windbreak. Plus Mother was also allergic to the spray. You have given me a whole new perspective on this subject. Thanks, Bev

Thank you so much Bev for reading and commenting. I wrote this as I had so many mixed feelings about that crop duster.

I am so surprised at the amount of crop dusting that went on around here. I don't know if it was just this year or every year. I never remember seeing a crop duster at Grandma Alvina's.

Thank you Bev!


Aviation have been a passion of mine for several many years, thanks for that post.

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