Wednesday, September 7, 2011
I've seen fire and I've seen rain
Unlike James Taylor I’ve only seen rain lately. It’s raining now and has been for several hours. Sometimes the rain is hard but always it’s steady. If I had been flooded out last week I would be afraid. Some communities are taking precautions by asking people to go stay with family or friends on higher ground for the night. I’m sure all the hardest hit places are very alert right now. I have seen rain but rarely this much and this often.
Our local community is, like many in Vermont, along a river. We have been affected three times this summer by flooding. Irene is “the worse flood since the hurricane of ’27.” I’ve had places I shopped closed since May because of flooding. Some were just getting back into business when this flood hit. Some fared better, some fared worse this time. But economically this is very hard for Vermont. Not even thinking of foliage season or ski season but the businesses that those of us who live here shop at, have dinner at, visit for new glasses, or to see a dentist; are affected. Some have had to clean up after a flood two or three times this summer. I don’t know how these businesses will fare in a year. But they are part of the fiber of this community and this state and would be missed if they were to close. This gives “buying local” a whole new meaning.
I live in Vermont so buying local is something I like to do. Now I feel like it’s a bigger issue. It is one of the ways Vermont can recover from the losses it has suffered. It’s going to be harder to stay in business as a dairy farmer if your silage all floated down the river or your feed corn was made useless by flood waters, not to mention if you lost half your herd. Buying Vermont milk, cheese, and butter is part of what I can do to help. Anything I can buy directly from a farmer is even more help since all the profits go directly to them. This is going to be more difficult because so many farms, the really good productive ones, are located on bottom land. Flat, sunny land by the river is rich, less rocky, and warms up quickly in the spring. It can be wet but it grows good crops.
Some farms lost 1/3 of their crops down the river. Some lost the fields as well to erosion. The same torrents that ripped the roads apart tore through farm land as well. I love those farms and honor those farmers. There’s not work much harder than farming. To have this kind of economic loss is going to – no, let’s put it another way – could make this winter really hard for Vermont farmers. If there is anything I can do to ease that difficulty I want to do it.
And the artists, the man who sells firewood, the blacksmith down the road, I need to see what they have I need and buy what I can from them. For now, buying local is a civic act of integrity. It is how we will all survive together.
This wasn’t what I had intended to write when I sat down. But the rain keeps coming, the cool is beginning, and I feel the urgency of fall preparation. This time it is taking on a much larger scale.
© angela magara 2011