Dust to Dust

May 15, 2008
By Sara Oatis, Rocky Point, NY

It was 1930; the stock market had crashed only 6 months before. 140 billion dollars lost; banks failed by the thousands as panicked depositors clamored for their savings. Unemployment and homelessness soared. Farming and rural areas suffered as prices for crops fell 40-60%. We had our own problems at home.
It was mid July and heat waves shimmered off the hot ground, which was dry and cracked. When the wind blew, large black clouds loomed over plains like dusty tsunamis, blotting out the sun.

My father was a farmer, who tended fields of crops and plains of wheat and rye; my mother had gardens filled with wild flowers that perfumed the air with sweet fragrances. We had animals: cows, chickens, horses, and goats. But now we has nothing. Our fields and crops were claimed by the drought, and were now nothing but a dry, barren waste land. My mother’s garden dried up and turned into a field of dust; the animals were sold, leaving my family with nothing. Soon the bank would take the farm.

My father used to be a lively man filled with joy and laughter. He loved to sing and play the harmonica. As the drought cracked the land, it seems that with each new crack in the land a new crease appeared on my father's withered face.
He used to sit in his favorite rocking chair and play his harmonica. Now he sits and stares out the window at the barren fields, a bumper crop of dust and cracked earth.

This season was hopeless and we had no crops to sell. we took a loan from the bank, and still owed money, but since there were no crops, there was no money to pay back the loan. They threatened to take away our farm. That would leave us nothing, forcing us to pack and head farther west in search of work.
Months past, the sun still burned in the sky and dust still settled like black snow on the plains. I dreamed one night of racing clouds, shapeless wild horses galloping over the green plains, leaving rivers in their wake. That morning I told my father about my dream. He smiled sadly and nodded. I looked out the window at the barren fields.

"We can’t do this much longer," my father said, staring blankly into his bowl of oatmeal. "If things don’t go right soon we'll be forced to give up the farm."
Another night, another dream, of thundering waterfalls, raging rivers and shimmering lakes, and the sound of tapping; impatient, insistent tapping like fingers on a desk top.
Tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. As I came up through the depths of my dream, like rising to the surface from the ocean bottom, a very small word formed in my mind like a spreading puddle. Rain.

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