New York Times and the Texas Freeze
Last Month while my husband and I were huddled in our bed with our cat, covered with all of the blankets we owned, I was thinking about the citrus growers I had met in December.
Our house had been without power for 72 hours, only occasionally had water, but still, I figured we would make it through. Our problems could be solved, but the citrus farmers, their entire businesses were at stake. The temperatures in Mission, Texas got down to 21 degrees for multiple hours....and anything below 28 degrees marks disaster for fruit on the trees...and possibly the trees themselves.
When I heard from the New York Times that they were going to do a piece on the impact of the freeze on Texas agriculture and they wanted me to do the images, I was so glad I wasn't the only one who was concerned about my farming friends.
I hopped in my car on Thursday, February 18th, just hours after we'd gotten our own power back, to drive the 5.5 hours south to meet with my first citrus grower. I packed two sleeping bag, granola bars, and bottles of water- most of Texas was under a boil notice and I was going to be staying in a friends empty house- one that still didn't have power back yet!
It was a solemn, thoughtful trip, one where I walked with each grower their fields and orchards, observing the devestated plants and trees. I asked them how they felt, what they thought, and how they carry the weight of the loss. There was a sense of sadness and resignation, but also hope and the unknown- only a few days after the freeze the full extent of the damage could still not be known.
If farmers are anything, they're resilient. They've all had losses before. Farmers really understand just how little they can control in life (the rest of us keep pretending we can control it all!).
To make it in their industry, they've developed an acceptance, an ability to pick themselves up after getting knocked down, and endless capacity to generate hope even in hard situations.
This has got to be one of the biggest reasons why I love farmers and farming so much. It's life training in the deepest sense.
It was an honor to be able to spend some time with the growers in South Texas, and I'm so grateful for their openness and willingness to share their lives and losses with me. I'm continually inspired by the farmers I meet, and this visit was no different.
I'll continue to keep you all updated as they move forward this year.