By Karl Terry: CNJ columnist
As a columnist, from time to time I get tipped off to things that leave me scratching my head. What can I do with this little nugget? This past week I had one of those calls.
A reader whom I know personally called me up one evening and told me she had seen cotton blooming in the ditch near the cemetery. At first I wasn’t sure what her point was going to be. Was she enlisting me to help pick the cotton? Did she want me to verify what she’d seen taxonomically?
Turns out she just thought it was unusual to see cotton blooming in such a strange spot so late in the year. She’s right. We don’t see a lot of cotton fields in eastern New Mexico any more. The variety of irrigated row crops we used to see along our roads has changed until these days if it’s not cow food it’s not grown here much.
With the numerous cotton gins once in the area now just a memory, anyone still growing cotton has to truck it to gins in Texas. Even the peanuts we’re celebrating this weekend in Portales aren’t as prevalent as they once were.
Since this reported cotton patch was only a short distance away I decided to take a walk over there one evening to check it out. Sure enough, quite a few tall cotton plants spaced irregularly throughout the ditch were sporting white blooms. I picked one to show my wife and pondered what this all meant on the half-mile walk back.
On the farm, anything that started growing like this without being planted was called a “volunteer stand.” But how did the seed get there?
Was it washed down the ditch from a cotton patch? Did a tractor with a planter spill the seed? Did it sprout from cottonseed cake being used as cattle feed?
Whatever it was, the seed found the right environment with late summer rains to germinate and grow even if it was in a strange spot and too late in the year.
As I walked, the phrase “bloom where you’re planted” came into my head but I didn’t know where I had heard it for sure. It could have been a song or it could have been a church sermon or motivational speech or all of the above. I just thought how that cotton was a metaphor for what’s lacking in so many of our lives.
Too often we complain about the circumstances we find ourselves in — where we live, our financial status, the stresses and time constraints placed on us and on and on. We get so wrapped up in enumerating the things that aren’t perfect in our life that we never give our talents and blessings a chance to bloom.
Couldn’t a little bit of kindness and help to a neighbor or even a stranger in need be seen as a way to let ourselves blossom?
Maybe our blooms won’t produce a bale of cotton on their own. But a few little white flowers popping up randomly around our community could sure brighten the day for those around us in ways we might not realize.
I found the words to the song on the Internet without credit to the author, here they are:
“Bloom where you’re planted/ Show what you’re worth. God has his flowers all over the earth. Bloom where you’re planted and if you’re sincere/ You can get anywhere on earth from here.
“Bloom where you’re planted/ And become a part Of God’s lovely garden — the pride of his heart. Bloom where you’re planted and if you’re sincere/ You can get anywhere on earth from here.”