As widespread rains begin to slowly refill lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, Thanksgiving thoughts turn back to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth where the Mississippi River, just a mile from our dairy barn, was a constant, often dominating presence.

Except, that is, in the late summer months when everything around the farm–cows, hired men, and even the river–moved in a slow granny gear. That was especially so on Saturday evenings where nearly a hundred panting Holsteins and an airless milking parlor promised a sweaty session of steamy drudgery.

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