The "dirty thirty's"

          Dark at Noon

            Both my maternal and paternal grandparents were farmers. Both farmed small to moderate acreages; both also raised cattle, hogs, chicken and anything else that could be sold for a profit.  And both lived through the “dirty thirty’s” and were forever affected by that experience.

          Long past the “dirty thirty’s”, I remember them scanning the sky for a glimpse of a rain cloud and being excited when the rain gauge measured any amount of moisture. One Grandpa made the same comment every time he took a drink of the cool beverages brought out to the field during harvest, “People just don’t know how important water is.”   Another Grandma fought a lifelong battle against the dust that blew into the house from gravel roads, open areas, harvested fields and wished the shelterbelt of newly planted trees would grow faster and become a block to the wind and the dust it moved.

          This past week I was returning from a First Aid training (a whole separate blog story about that experience!) and encountered a mini-version of what so greatly impacted my grandparents.  In the midst of the Red River Valley, the flattest, least horizon obstructed area of ND, the wind was moving our ND topsoil up and out and over to MN.  Vehicle operators turned their highlights on; some semi drivers pulled over and others towing campers should have.   As I counted the posts along the edge of the Interstate, I realized that visibility was down to about half a mile and even the tight seals on the modern vehicle I was steering could not keep the dust out.  I could see it on the dashboard and taste it on my lips. After a super dusty thirty miles, the gusts diminished, the view cleared and the ground stayed in place.  

          I wondered if owners of the land that was losing layers to the wind had been out watching their property during the wind storm or if they had waited til all was over to survey the damage.  I wondered my grandparents would have said it was a bad storm or not as bad as others or if they would again scan the skies for rain.