I head west on state highway 26. West of Colfax, Washington, the wheat has been planted in bands, looking like choker necklaces, on the hills. The wheat, which has now dried in eastern Washington to a rich ochre color, contrasts with the brown skin of fallow earth.
The landscape flattens as I drive west. Broad expanses of wheat sway in the breeze, tickling the ankles of retired windmills. The dry farms of wheat stretch widely. The land is disappearing, twirling up in dust devils. I see several. This landscape is populated by ghouls that twist in tight funnels, often reaching high, where a smear of thin yellow Earth dissipates in sky. Each time I drive through this landscape, I wonder how long the agriculture will last, when the topsoil will disappear, when the aquifer used to irrigate crops will dry, and when the human population will thin to the numbers of the dust devils. Today, these thoughts are as short as the miles. I am distracted from dust by a minty fragrance from one of the fields, but I can’t determine the crop at 65 mph.
This is a nice day to drive. The traffic is light. I’m not slowed by either lines of trucks or farm implements. There is neither rain nor snow. The driving is smooth. I watch the light on the crops and crop dusters and reflect on little more than shadows and colors. I drink tea as drive to the annual botany meetings, which this year are being held in Vancouver, Canada.