I worked in the Heartland during the farm recession of the 80s and saw the ravishes of poor government policy. And here it is again. It first shows around the margins until one day you look up. The youth have fled. The houses have decayed. Stores are vacant. Only the stalwart and desperate remain. The soul of the land gets stripped away and what is left is the husk of all that it once was.
It has been a while since I drove across Kansas Ave between I-5 and Highway 99. It is a straight shot running east west. The road that skirts the northern shore of the old Tulare Lake Bottom.
The soil in this area is a heavy clay and it is tight and saline on the West side, near Hwy 5. On the East side, it gives way to a rich clay loam.
Ten years ago, this time of the year, the drive is cheerful with the first cutting of alfalfa hay, fields of waving wheat, oats and barley, knee high corn straining for height and shiny cotyledons of cotton.
It was not so yesterday. This area has been devastated by the drought and poor water management. I drove for miles looking at sad, empty fields. Poor farm houses have been abandoned. It is derelict.