Monday, October 4, 2004

Under a Harvest Moon

My wife and I spent Saturday helping my parents with the fall harvest, more specifically, shelling corn. My job for the day was to bring the loaded wagons halfway home where I would switch with my father and then take the empty wagon back to the field. It is a job that I love because it gives me plenty of time to reflect on life and let my mind roam. I listened to the radio for awhile but the same dozen songs kept playing so I turned over to talk radio stations but they were all covering the Hawks game which bored me to tears since I am not a sports fan. So I was left with the smells, sounds and sights of mother nature.

Nothing quite tickles my nose like the smells of fall. The clear crisp air seems to enhance and magnify all the smells ten fold so that even the most subtle smell can seem like a symphony. It was a beautiful sunny day and the odor that can only be associated with corn harvest filled the air. When inhaled, it is like a steroid as the lung inflates and seems to transfer those very smells into the blood stream as energy. Nothing seems impossible on days like those.

A slight wind was blowing so when the combine was out of earshot, I could hear the rustling of dried corn leaves dancing. Some people have wind chimes to sooth their ears but for mine, there is nothing better than leaves blowing in a light breeze. At periodic intervals, these sounds would be replaced by the throttled power of a combine as it made it's way back towards my end of the field. It grumbled and growled but continued to shuck the corn and store it in the hopper leaving behind a cut "lawn" of corn stalks. Much later when we are gathered tiredly around the supper table, the sun long gone, the muted talk is still filled with happiness and nobody is complaining of how tired they are. The crops are bountiful, the weather is good, uncertainty has been replaced by certainty and for that, everyone is thankful.

Perhaps the sights are what I enjoy the most of fall. I like the golden browns that has replaced the greens of summer. I like seeing fields that have been shorn of the bounty of grain and will lie dormant until spring when the once again sprout to life. I watched a hawk looking for food, glide for over a half hour without one single flap of it's wings. It circled, dove, rose and stalled in an endless pattern before it finally disappeared beyond a hill, still with nary a flap of his wings. A rabbit hopped about keeping a wary eye for hawk shadows on some mission indecipherable by me. A doe and her two almost fully grown fawns, walked across the field always alert for possible signs of trouble. The two fawns stayed focused on finding dropped corn fully trusting their mother to keep watch and alert them in danger. A shadow slid across the stubble right in front of my tractor and I looked up to see the hawk gliding about again but this time obviously on a mission. He tightly circled as he dropped lower and lower finally disappearing behind some unharvested corn at the far end of the field never to be seen again by me. Bon appetite Mr. Hawk!

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