Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ode to the Telephone Pole (with a little manure mixed in)

Each day, while driving to school, my children and I pass through acres and acres of farmland. Land currently being plowed and planted, the tractors jouncing and (in Amish fields) mules toiling, getting an early start to a long day. Soon those fields will be thick and green with new vegetation. Corn, mostly, is what will be grown in this area. 

In addition to the quiet beauty of watching the farmer prepare his fields for the summer sun and August harvest, there are the smells. Of earth and spring air and moisture from last night's storm. But, above all, is the smell of manure  A pervasive smell. Distasteful for those unused to its pungency.  It is, after all, poo. But having lived here most of my life, it is simply a smell of spring.

As I drive, I cross a small bridge spanning a creek (and, no, I don't pronounce it "crick"), and my focus shifts from the ground, to the giant poles jutting into the air. Telephone poles with electrical wires strung between them. It's an everyday sight with which we, who live in this nation, are familiar. But it all of a sudden struck me: telephone poles are silly.

There is nothing to protect them. The wires, thin and flimsy, hang exposed between impermanent structures. And yet we depend daily on the precise functioning of these poles and wires. When a storm comes (as it always does) and the power goes out, everyone scuttles--like little sand crabs racing to catch the ebbing tide--in an effort to reverse the plunge of society into third-world status. While the sand crabs scuttle, those of us "suffering" in the dark scurry out to our cars to recharge our phones. (Am I the only one who does this?) Heaven forbid we disconnect for more than a few minutes.

These telephone poles defy the earth-boundedness of all that surrounds them. Their only companions are the birds and insects that alight on the outstretched wires. And these structures are relatively successful at accomplishing their purpose. So, while staring at these poles (for little snapshots of time since I'm driving and also have to watch the road) it strikes me, not only as silly, but also brave. Brave mostly because at some point, someone heaved up the first pole, convinced that this narrow structure would facilitate communication and connection among the populous. 

So why am I fixating on these poles? They're just poles, you ninny! (is what I'm sure you're thinking by now.) Well, these poles, butted up against the Amish man with his mules and rustic plow tilling his field, create a strange and anomalous  juxtaposition: where we've come from mingles with where we are going. And the smell of manure reminds me that, despite all our supposed progress, poo is still the best ingredient for making things grow.

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  1. Ice storms,high winds, and tornados tear through our country and tear down our poles and wires often, so I don't take them for granted. I'm glad someone else thinks about things of this nature in relation to the universe, too.
    And, I'm all about poo down here at the Oklahoma ranch pen. :D

    1. Bless you, Danni, for reading my pole/poo post and not thinking I'm a complete idiot. I actually think of you often as I drive through all the farmland as I know you are in the thick of it down in Oklahoma. And I can't imagine dealing with the extreme weather you all experience and still manage to stay sane. But, strangely enough, it makes me a bit uneasy how quickly this country would grind to a stand-still simply by knocking down some poles. Amish living doesn't seem so bad then.


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