Behind the Scenes: From Journal Entry to Prize Gem
When I read journal pages such as the one from June 5, 1952 above, I "listen" for the lines that are larger than life -- the ones that rise from the details of 85 degrees, the cows under-producing and the manure loader. "It took all day instead of a few hours" -- now that is a line that speaks to a larger theme -- of uncertainty in this case. The journal is full of passages describing things that couldn’t be predicted or that didn’t go as planned. Uncertainty follows a farmer around like a faithful dog.
The journal has powerful and recurrent themes. Some are: hardship, the weather, firsts, the cows, and neighbor helping neighbor. Throughout the Journal, I discover lines like the ones in this prize gem above that over time seem kindred and like-minded to me. I find that if I arrange them so that they start having an interesting conversation with each other, then a theme is illuminated and the poetry emerges. I have made it a point not to change any of Pa’s words, and in the piece above, you’ll also see the date of his original entry written beside each excerpt.
This prize gem, Maybe We Might Get the Corn In, is an ode to uncertainty -- to the daily back and forth, the ins and outs, the constant shifting and hedging one’s bets, and the need to rely on "educated guesses" when deciding what gets done. I hope this prize gem gives you an appreciation of the constant need for flexibility in ever-changing situations, and the ability, as Pa would say, to “roll with the punches."