On the yellowing prairie south of Pelican Rapids, the sunflowers are bowing their heads in resignation. Last week when I drove past the fields of sad soldiers I felt like stopping the car to shout, “Wait! It is still summertime! Fight! Don’t give up!” August road trips across the prairie are bittersweet for sunflower lovers.
Between Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids there are fields with rows of corn stalks taller than men. The stand of decades-old white pine that serves as a wind break near the road will be gone when I pass by there later today. I know this because last week I watched a mechanical beast with a portly passenger in a hard hat grab one in its jaws of death and snap it like a toothpick before backing up to drop it on the pile of tree carcasses. The scent of pine death was everywhere. As I passed by I thought about how long it took the trees to grow and how quickly they were destroyed for a new lane of highway. We are a short-sighted species. The travelers along that stretch of road probably won’t miss the trees until the first real blizzard hits in January.
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