Laugh tracks in the dust

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       What will the world’s plant and animal population be comprised of 1,000 years from now? No one knows, of course, but I have some strong candidates with the survival skills to subjugate, and then take over the world, from us dummy humans, who seem intent upon destroying ourselves in multiple ways.

My first candidate from the plant world is the lowly bindweed. Slowly, and maybe surely, bindweed is taking over flyover country. Right here at Damphewmore Acres, despite my best efforts to till and spray the bindweed into oblivion, there’s more of it growing that when we bought the place 10 years ago.

I found it interesting that one of the very first agricultural research projects of the newly formed Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Mechanics (now Kansas State University) way back in the 1800s wuz to find a way to control and/or eliminate bindweed. Well, here we are 150 years later, and bindweed is still thriving. Give bindweed another 850 years, and we humans had better find a way to eat it and like it.

Another candidate for plant immortality is human-introduced sericea lespedeza. It, too, despite the best efforts of mankind to eradicate it, is steadily expanding its range. Every rain and flood spreads the seeds, as do pickup tires, farm machinery, birds, wildlife, and gum boots, brogans, sneakers and cowboy boots traipsing through the countryside.

Two trees earn dishonorable mention as candidates to dominate the emerging new landscape 10 centuries from now. They are the eastern redcedar tree and the hedge tree (osage orange/bois d’arc). Both are rampant and aggressive in expanding their range and they’re adept at squeezing out desirable plant populations and sucking up precious soil moisture at prodigious rates. And, sad as it is to say it, we humans gave both these voracious trees a kick-start.

In the next millennium, a few other seemingly indestructible plants probably will find a niche to survive and thrive. They are multiflora rose, Johnsongrass, kudzu, and the ubiquitous cocklebur and sandbur.

As for the future animal kingdom, I’m putting my bet on Asian carp, green sunfish, and bullhead catfish to take over the waters and for the insects to dominate the land. Perhaps those humans who already have insects and carp in their diets, are ahead of the rest of us in the survival game.

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My, my, my! My Kansas City Royals are two games into the World Series and have evened their record at 1-1. The odds are against them becoming World Champions, but that outcome would not be stranger than the team’s oddesy to get where it is today. So, my hope lingers on and by the time most folks read this column, the die will be cast.

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When you’ve lived more than seven decades, as I have, your life path will cross paths with folks who society has tabbed as “famous” or “important.” For some reason, I recently got to thinking about folks in those two categories with whom I’ve crossed paths.

Folks on the list of “famous or important” persons that I’ve actually conversed with, include (at the top of the list) country music legend Willie Nelson; Roy Clark, former Country Music Entertainer of the Year, with whom I’ve hunted quail, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, agronomist Norman Borlaug, the “Father of the Green Revolution.”

Other notables that I can quickly recall conversations with are: H. L. Hunt, patriarch of the Hunt ketchup empire; Mrs. Walgreen, founder of the Walgreen drug chain; Jim “Catfish” Hunter, the famous baseball pitcher, and rural comedian Jerry Clower, “The Mouth of the South.”

Entertainers that I’ve conversed with at one time or the other are: country music singer T. G. Shepherd, with whom I played gin rummy on his tour bus; Country Music Female Vocalist of the Year Janie Fricke, and I’d throw in my friend cowboy poet Baxter Black, probably the most popular entertainer in rural America.

Politicians with whom I’ve conversed are U.S. Senators Bob Dole, Pat Roberts, Chuck Grassley, Tom Harkin, Henry Bellmon and Sam Irwin, who brought President Nixon down. Throw in Hodding Carter III.

Governors on the list include Robert Docking, Sam Brownback and Terry Branstad.

Secretaries of Agriculture include: Earl Butz, Robert Bergland, John Block, Dan Glickman, and Ann Veneman.

The most obnoxious national journalist I ever had the misfortune to speak with was CBS New’s Dan Rather.

I’ve never spoken to a U.S. president, but the ones I’ve laid my old eyes on go way back to Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon.

All those folks sure don’t make me important, but they do indicate that I’m well-traveled — within the confines of the U.S.

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Since I’ve mentioned travel, I’ll quit for the week with these wise words about travel. Saint Augustine said, “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” And Chinese philosopher said, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”

That last quote describes me perfectly. Travel is fun, but home’s better. So, travel or stay home as you wish, but have a good ‘un.

 

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