I wept when I glimpsed out of my bedroom window this morning. The garden is gone. Parched. Destroyed. The arid Wichita heat continues to flood the central lands of Kansas, pulverizing any sign of life that can no longer be nurtured.
The picket fence that once protected mother’s beloved sunflowers bathes in the scorching sun, losing its gentle white glow, buried by lifeless dirt. Mother said that it is hard to harvest lately, and that the McKinley’s are soon shutting down their ranch down the road and moving east. “But why mother?” I asked. “Because it’s time for the McKinley’s to share their cattle with the rest of the world.” But I knew that wasn’t true. Mother always said what she had to make me understand in a fruitful way. She always said so with a warming smile, shining lovingly under her beautiful draped sunhat with a big black ribbon tied neatly on the front. But something was off; I could tell by the way the wind carried the land that morning.
“It’s time to go,” Mother whispered in my ear as I lay still on my mattress, listening to the wind howl and carrying the particles of nutrient-less dust across the once flourishing land. “It’s time to say goodbye to our garden.”
I heard Farmer McKinley whispering to Minister Raven at the farm stand late last August one day when I was trying to sell some of Mother’s cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine for five cents a piece. “Things ain’t looking good Frank,” I heard him grumble under his tobacco pipe. “We oughta move the cattle farther east before the dust storms completely wipe us out.” I cringed. I knew the dust storms were severe, but I didn’t quite believe how badly it was affecting our village—our state—our country. “The soil just ain’t the same here anymore Billy,” Minister Raven said back. “Mother Nature is only making the good ol’ Depression that much worse.”
Walking home along the dusty dirt roads that late summer day, I noticed how bland our village was becoming. The horses no longer neighed. The gardens weren’t overgrown with corn, beans, and barley. The fresh scent of sunflowers and magnolias no longer lingered. Kansas was changing, and Mother kept saying how great the land is back east for farming. “Just imagine how great our garden could be!” Mother would say to me when she saw me pick up a withering sunflower off the ground. And in that moment, I accepted the change. I knew it would be okay, as long as Mother and I had a garden, our garden, our home. “We will be able to share our flowers with the rest of the world.”