My first 10 days as Southwest Farm Press’s new staff writer have been full of firsts, sweet reminders, and a moment of revelation about what I call “home.”
My firsts included a trip to Clarksdale, Miss., headquarters to meet my new Farm Press family. I met the backbone of the company, the ladies whose names may never appear in a byline, but who keep everything in order, paid, and up-to-date on what is going on.
I met editors who have been with Farm Press for 30 and 40 years. But what struck me the most about the Farm Press personnel was longevity: Most of the people in that office have been there for 20 to 40 years, and some are the second generation to work at Farm Press, having “grown up there.” That tells me Farm Press is the place to be — but never to leave. They love what they do and who they work for, so I’m excited to be a part of the family!
Flying to Mississippi, and then to Oklahoma for my first economic conference, I’ve been reminded of the kindness of strangers. From the mom who shared my anxiousness over a delayed flight to get home to see our kids; to the U.S. veteran who had flown B1 bombers in the 1980s and lived in Abilene at the same time I did, though we never knew each other; to the Delta farmer who treated Ron Smith and me to supper at a Mississippi country club, and his experiences about farming, travel, and what he’d like to see in our publication; to the fellow Texas Tech alumnus who waited to make sure I was taken care of when the connecting flight left without us after a delay in Oklahoma; and to the busy cotton professionals and specialists who graciously accepted my phone calls and answered my questions. There’s still a lot of kindness in this ol’ world. How reassuring!
Lastly, as I was flying home Saturday, the plane was full of Texas Tech Red Raiders headed to Lubbock for homecoming. Visiting with the Red Raider next to me, he mentioned how long it had been since he’d been home. I told him, “Wait until you see how beautiful the cotton fields are now that the bolls are open.” He looked at me somewhat quizzically, and it dawned on me that maybe he had never noticed the cotton. I realized in that moment, especially after traveling the last 10 days, that the sight of white cotton fields is home to me — that there’s something comforting about the sight, the smell, and the feeling of harvest.
It seems ironic, coming from a little girl who grew up in the city, but sometimes you have to get away, see other things, people, places, and crops to realize all that’s special about what you call home. Not a bad start to what I hope is a long career with Farm Press/ Farm Progress.