Tobacco Row   9 comments

Tobacco Row
Immediately across the road from the old barn featured in Serviceable, we found this fairly large field of tobacco that I thought would make an interesting composition.

This is a very typical scene here in eastern NC. Whether it’s tobacco, corn, soybeans, or cotton, once you get out of the town centers, the terrain is pretty much devoted to agriculture.

Being one who is more aligned with nature rather than cities, I find a certain beauty in almost anything green and growing. On this warm, windy day, the plants were dancing around in the breeze, and a few had thrown brilliant yellow flower heads. But this particular field caused me to consider the dichotomy of what we do…

Sure, the plants are pretty, but I remember a time about 20 years ago when tobacco had a grip on me that was almost impossible to overcome. It took multiple attempts and many tools (I was up to six patches a day ;^) ) to kick the habit that I had developed over the previous 20 years of smoking. I’m now quite free of that, but it always struck me: How could someone who loves the outdoors and climbing mountains also pour poisonous, carcinogenic smoke into his lungs? It never made much sense, not then, not now.

Witnessing this schism in myself, I also wondered how we can so complain about the rising cost of healthcare, and yet continue to allow people to participate in a habit that has no real effect other than to destroy living tissue, and how we continue to enable ‘big tobacco’ in providing the product. Sure, it comes down to a matter of ‘personal freedom’, but still…

A good friend of mine wrote recently about similar disparities, and I rolled his words around in my mind as I watched the split between common sense and personal choice: “I believe we should do more to save our planet. I believe we should focus more of our money and efforts on our own country and less on the rest of the world, at least until we are back on track. I believe we should focus more on educating our children, and teachers should be paid more and professional athletes should be paid less.” (This was just one small part of his post.)

I guess that everywhere we look, we can see a difference between things that make sense, and our continued participation in an activity that flies in the face of that sense. In this particular field, we’re growing a product that specifically kills people, but the cultivation of hemp (not pot) — with over 40,000 industrial, nutritional and pharmacological uses — is somehow still illegal in the U.S.

This is not so much a rant about tobacco, per se, but more about the continued schizophrenic behaviors that we tend to exhibit as humans. I believe that we can and will eventually make better choices, but sometimes it seems the pace of this evolution is glacially slow.

And yet, isn’t there a certain beauty in being around to watch how we live, learn, and grow to maturity, taking note of our own foibles and eccentricities? I’m just glad that I get to stick around another day to watch what happens next.

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9 responses to “Tobacco Row

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  1. Nicely captured dude!

  2. What a good post and perspective. I’d love to read the post by your friend, as the blurb you posted carries a good amount of weight in just a few words. So much to think on.

  3. Your image of a tobacco field is considerably more poignant because of it’s very prominent and symbolic (expanded upon in your narrative) path. Provocative composition – so much more than a picture.

  4. “..but more about the continued schizophrenic behaviors that we tend to exhibit as humans.” It is a very slow societal evolution with many steps backward but we are making progress.

    Good image and narrative.

  5. What I like most about your work is that you understand Photography can be so much more than camera, lens and subject. It can be more than HDR techniques. It can even be more than your artistic interpretation and presentation of a subject. Photography can be life itself.

  6. Interesting post image to match Rob! Being from Southwestern Viginia, another huge tobacco area, and a former smoker I can completely relate to this.

  7. Awesome color!

  8. This is a truly great shot, Rob, and your blog post today is awesome. I smoked forever as well, and 10+ years ago I got some news that made it so I *had* to quit. Toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. This picture, on the other hand, is one of the easiest things I’ve ever looked at in my life! (I know, that’s a lame segue, but it’s all I got).

  9. Great composition & colors! Fantastic post!!!!

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