If it is a hot still day some where on the delta, a scene that will always catch your eye is a vehicle (itâ€™s almost always a pickup) roaring along a dusty road just slightly ahead of a cloud of dust. If itâ€™s far enough away that you canâ€™t hear it, the scene is all the more entrancing. The pickup seems like a rocket blasting off for a space station when in reality itâ€™s just heading for the nearest store.
I have that overall idea in my head a lot of the time. It is an iconic scene for the delta…any delta with crops in varying stages of growth. It could be a pickup bumping along a turn row or blasting down a dirt road on the other side of a field. If the weather is dry the dust will be deep and easily thrown up into the hot, still air.
Some of these fields will have a family plot tucked away by a paved highway. Maybe there will be a couple of trees. If the tiny cemetery is really old the trees may be just stumps…or gone altogether. So I put these two ideas together and liked the way the elements fit. The pickup had to be far to the right and the family plot needed to be foreground left.
There are always telephone poles receding this way and that. But I needed the poles to lead your eye toward the fleeing pickup. When I had the pickup and dust trail like I wanted it…there was something I didnâ€™t like. I had the â€œrocketâ€ idea going and I wanted to emphasize that idea. At some point I thought I could put some thunderheads in and have them vanish toward the pickup. This way it would remind viewers of Saturn Vâ€™s blasting off from Canaveral. Anyway, thatâ€™s the way I think.
But then I needed to have something around the cemetery to echo the thunderheads. After much goofing about I settled on some light green â€œbushesâ€ that you often see on the delta in reasonably wet areas. So I threw in a drainage ditch to track the telephone poles and tie the design together.
About this time I remembered visiting the cemetery in Monticello and how I had noticed that many headstones were hard to read and some were toppling over. Several headstones had slid on their bases or were leaning. I wondered why nobody had cleaned or repaired the family headstones. It dawned on me that, in some cases, there might be no family left. I knew some of the families but I didnâ€™t know how many still had family left in Monticello. It was a short distance…mentally…to think that some of those family plots sitting out in those delta fields have no family left to care for those plots.
Soon enough I had pieced together a story for my Delta Rocket. So I added the â€œLeaving the Past Behindâ€ not to be critical but as an observation. Thus, a pickup leaving itâ€™s â€œmarkâ€ on a mundane, daily task becomes a way of seeing how we move into the future…which, of necessity, leaves the past in the dust.