An autumn morning drive through the Mississippi Delta, if you get up early enough, offers some stunning vistas of cotton fields—some ready for harvest, white from roadside to treeline, some still green and adding pounds—soybeans, leaves dropped and full pods hanging amber and gold in the early, half-light of the rising sun. Newly harvested rice fields reveal stalk remnants, combine tracks and some fresh-tilled soil.
The dawn breaks with an orange glow on the horizon, painting thin, wispy clouds with pink and purple hues as the sun inches over the horizon and then changes to brilliant yellow and gold as it creeps over the trees at the far edge of the fields. Minutes later, the sky is pierced by golden rays and patches of cobalt blue push the clouds apart.
Yellow-wrapped, round cotton bales string out in threes and fours along field borders. Similarly placed rectangular modules, topped with blue, orange, and red tarps, line up like giant Legos ready for some large child to build a tall cotton tower.
A few green or red combines, cotton pickers, or spray rigs add a few more splashes of color, and drive home the point that a long production season is over and it’s time for the report card.