Preying Mantis and Winter Wheat

Winter wheat Pemiscot county 11-12-2015While cruising around the Bootheel this afternoon, I noticed lots of fields sporting what looked like green, green grass. I asked my guide, David Kelley, what had been planted.

He’s gotten used to my total lack of farming knowledge, so he didn’t even give me the head-shake, eye-roll I deserved. “It’s winter wheat.”

“We’ve already had one night below freezing. The cold weather doesn’t hurt it?”

“Nope.” (I discovered that wheat planted in autumn needs the cold weather to make it “head” in the spring.)

The irrigation system made me think of a huge preying mantis making its way across the field. (Clicking on the photos make them larger.)

Trucks at night

I-55 - 80 11-12-2015I was a little drowsy, so I pulled into the truck stop at the intersection of I-55 and 80 in New Madrid county for a short nap. It was still light when I stopped, but the sun had just dropped below the horizon when I headed out of the parking lot.

Even though it’s the same intersection where Curator Jessica spotted a Padiddle last year, I couldn’t pass up shooting a picture that will help me illustrate how the Interstate has siphoned traffic off Highway 61.

10 Replies to “Preying Mantis and Winter Wheat”

  1. Ken, I love the use of the photograph to present whimsy and your “p. Mantis” does just that. And the train silhouette reminds me of younger days playing with a friend’ s train set. Thank you for bringing a smile to my otherwise serious day (as you often do).

  2. Ops! On second look, I realize that the “train” is trucks. However, the illusion is still there for me. This proves, I think, that in the early morning before that second cup of wake-up coffee, we often see the world more dreamily. 🙂

  3. Ken, although I like the descriptive term, siphoned, I would be more inclined to use the term pirated. For many of the small towns along US-61, the building of the interstate removed personal and tax revenue generated by people stopping to eat and get gas (did I really say that?), or maybe purchase some farm – fresh produce. Those towns took a big hit monetarily.

    1. I’m working to document the Bootheel, an area where, since the introduction of the mechanical cotton harvester, the roads have led mostly out.

      You are right, though. The people who once ate in local diners, shopped in Main Street stores and filled up their tanks in tiny gas stations along the road now zip through the area at 80 mph, bored by miles of “nothing.”

  4. I can tell you are very artistic the way you described the irrigation system as making you think of a huge Preying Mantis making its way across the field ! 🙂

  5. Obviously I’m a lot older than you! I grew up in Perry County, but have lived in St. Louis since 1949 .. well remember when HWY 61 was the only road to the big city .. on most Sunday nights there would be a very slow, very long line of traffic all the way … now I often take that route to and from STL because it’s so peaceful .. have the road almost all to myself .. having worked as a marketing rep for an insurance company who major product in SE MO was a farm package I was forced to learn more about farming and crops than I wanted to know, and while I remember playing in my grandfather winter wheat field as a child I’d never thought about why it was planted in the fall .. of course then there were NO praying mantis’ about ..

    1. I take Hwy 61 most of the way to St. Louis about half the time. It’s wider than the old days, and the cuts and fills have make it less hilly than it was in the days when you’d get stuck behind some underpowered truck (until some fool would get impatient and try to pass a line of traffic, causing a head-on collision).

      Having said that, though, even the drive on I-55 is prettier than most stretches of Interstate.

  6. The correct common name of the insect is PrAying Mantis (scientific name is Mantis Religiosa)because its forelegs make it look like it is praying – although they are predators and PrEying Mantis is a good description.

    1. Bev,

      You are absolutely right. I had a brain fart when I typed that. Can I claim that since it’s not a literal praying mantis it’s OK for me to exercise a little literary license and make him prey?

      Nah, I didn’t think so.

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