Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
History Uncovered: The Worst Hard Time
Close to 20 of us found our way to Pat's house, and all my emails about what a beautiful place it is were eclipsed by the reality! We had a wonderful holiday party! Great food, great company! And a lively discussion about The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan, somewhat combined with the Ken Burns documentary that aired on PBS recently. I don't know of anyone in the group who didn't see the documentary. Thanks again to Shirley for reminding me about it.
This was an especially good book for group discussion, partly because the company of our happy group helped ease the sadness we read about. Jennifer started our discussion by reading part of an interview with the author, Timothy Egan. She had questions ready to keep the discussion moving and on track. We stayed on topic, and I'll guess that everyone learned something, even after reading the book and watching the documentary!
I got the impression that most of us felt that the book and documentary film, which were similar even to the extent that the author of the book was one of the experts interviewed in the film, presented a much more in-depth understanding of the Dust Bowl than we had before reading this book. We were surprised at how extensive, long, devastating, and at times powerful the drought and sandstorms were. Most of us took history classes within a few years of each other. The Dust Bowl just didn't get the attention it deserved. Could that be because by the time we were in school the problem was mostly solved, and environmental issues weren't yet in the limelight? Seems the emphasis when I was studying history was on wars.
Our country suffered great losses from the Dust Bowl. Did we learn from our mistakes? Yes, we did! Just not enough (IMHO [in my humble opinion]). The government was instrumental in temporarily saving the Midwest, with contour farming, the planting of 225 million trees, and then the buyouts and subsidies. Problems were solved; but new problems were caused. Farms in the Midwest are now irrigated with water from underground aquifers, such as the Ogallala, which Dennis reminded us is being drained more quickly than it is naturally replenished. Subsidies are still in effect. I don't profess to have much understanding of the situation. I can say that my neighbors who spend much of their time at a house on Lake Buchanan are angry that the Texas rice farmers are receiving water from the Colorado as well as subsidies to minimize farming, while the lake is too low for boating. I don't want to get into politics here, as my knowledge is limited. Informational blog comments are welcome, though!
Interesting factoids: John asked how rice actually came to be a Texas crop. Great question, considering that Texas is hot and dry and rice grows mostly submerged in water. Pat happened to have read about this, and she told us that Japanese immigrants had brought rice seed with them, as it was a valuable commodity available to them; they had entered the coastal areas of Texas and started rice farming. Joyce told an interesting story: her aunt told her that her (Joyce's) grandfather had 8 daughters during the Dust Bowl. Their poverty necessitated their dividing the kids to "farm" (clever but not funny pun intended) them out to families that could take care of them. Also interesting is that Phyllis said that the grasses of the Midwest were originally very tall. She remembered seeing 3 plows at once cutting some down. Let's not be judgmental; farming can be done sustainably, and we don't know what those plows were doing and what was done with the land they plowed. Jennifer mentioned that the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin has a native garden at the entry, with tall grasses. Today, I noticed some very tall grainlike or grasslike plants on the service road for 45 going from Heatherwilde toward 130, on the right side of the street. I'd like to know what it is.
This discussion began to lead us into many ecological/environmental issues. There are so many these days, current and looming. Individuals can and should do their part; but unless the big corporations cooperate, there will probably be issues. How's that for putting it mildly? Shall we read and discuss more about this in 2013? Shall we read more for escape? Some humor?
Best wishes for happy holidays and an eclectic new year with the Round Rock New Neighbors Book Discussion Group!