Where other farmers sell grain, I sell soil, attractively packaged in ornamental coffins. Though this is the middle of Iowa, urban hipsters drive hours to buy it — “Heated, not treated, to remove Monsanto’s seed.” They pose for pictures next to my two-story tractor. I dress the part and don’t mention the ground-penetrating radar, how it shows me all the lies of the land as I drive my specially modified harvester. Instead, I talk about the healing properties of a mud mask, especially when it cracks in midsummer to let in the sun. My Lithuanian grandmother swore by it! When the soil is gone, will I sell rocks, they want to know. No, I want to say, I will sell the empty space to you to put all your goddamn garbage in. It’ll be the last landfill you’ll ever need. Instead I laugh and say in my best hick drawl: This here’s Iowa loess, son. Ain’t nothing but soil all the way down.
Dave Bonta (bio) often suffers from imposter syndrome, but not in a bad way — more like some kind of flower-breathing dragon, pot-bellied and igneous. Be that as it may, all of his writing here is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).