Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Oracles of Doom


There are a couple of guys we know – old-timers, locals – in another time and place they might've been called townies.  They’re good guys.  Honest.  Hardworking.  I call them The Oracles of Doom.

I picture them in their clean and pressed overalls, in their crisp white button downs and tidy Justin boots, sitting in the local diner (or the other local diner, or the other one just down the road from that one) with their cups of bitter black coffee going lukewarm, discussing the latest crises to befall the town, the county, the state.   

In general, nothing is good.  Meth addicts are everywhere; break-ins are rampant, petty theft a given.  Jobs are scarce and those that are available go unfilled because kids today would rather collect welfare than break a sweat.  If it’s winter it might be that the ponds have frozen up leaving cattle without water or maybe an ice storm has taken down the power lines.  Sure hope you remembered to buy propane back in August while the prices were low.  Spring is always too short and in summer there is either too much rain or too little of it.

This year if you were smart you sold your cattle a few months back, right after you realized that it was a dry spring and would only be a drier summer.  You should probably also cut your losses and disc in the vegetable garden and the feed corn.  No sense pouring good water in after bad – you couldn’t possibly water them enough this year.  Forget about getting a second cutting of hay off of that field of yours and say goodbye to that little bit of money you saved up, because you'll need it to buy bags of "creep."  Of course, price of beef is so low you won't make any money when you sell them anyway.  Have you noticed that there are a lot more grasshoppers this year?  Hasn’t been this bad since 1980.

It’s easy to get pulled into the gloom, the seeming hopelessness of it all.  Especially when air conditioned stir-craziness sets in brought on by being trapped inside day after day due to the 100+ degree temperatures.  Perspective is the thing.  Fall is coming (with its own problems, of course).  I have to remind myself that it wouldn’t matter if conditions were perfect: crops vigorous, cows fat and happy, an equal mix of nourishing rain and gentle sunshine, upstanding townspeople and high-paying jobs galore  – The Oracles of Doom would find something negative on which to gnaw over their cups of coffee.

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