Cornfields…in My Mind

 

It’s early February, it’s been cold here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge…not Chicago or Moscow cold…but for us thin-blooded Southerners it’s been damn cold.  It’s warmer today but that’s because it is raining to beat the band or to beat my metal roof.  Despite the elements, thanks to my son-in-law’s mother, I’m thinking about cornfields.  A bit early in the season to be thinking about cornfields but my thoughts tell me Kimberly’s memories of cornfields are a little different from mine…maybe.

Kimberly, Justin’s mother, posted a cornfield meme extolling the joys of running and playing in the cornfields of her youth and the memories they elicit.  I’m happy for Kimberly and her memories…mine are different and not the least bit warm and fuzzy.

I tend to lump cornfields and hayfields together…except I don’t eat hay.  Corn I love…in any form including liquid and I’m not speaking of corn syrup.  Sorry, the train went off the rails for a moment.

I remember corn and hayfields as places to stay away from if possible.  It was impossible for me to stay away from them, it was part of the job…or just part of my childhood.  There was always a lot of work associated with them both and to this day I break out in hives when I see square bales drying in a hayfield.

I associate corn and hayfields with loneliness, extreme heat, humidity, stinging bugs and venomous snakes.  You’ve never been hot and sweaty like cornfield or hayfield hot.  Drowning in your own sweat hot.  You’ve never been scared like flipping a hay bale over and finding a moccasin scared, the wrong end of the snake bound up in the bale.  You’ve never been scared like plowing a cornfield near the bottoms and having a black snake fall out of a tree and land on your shoulder scared.  You’ve never been stung like stepping into a yellow jacket’s nest stung…wherever, it really doesn’t have to be in a cornfield or hayfield.

As scary or painful as those examples were, I associate corn and hayfields most with loneliness.  You’ve never been lonely until being set out on the river bottoms, watching the old Chevy flatbed disappear.  Hoe in hand, a paper bag lunch of Vienna sausages and soda crackers, a jar of water wrapped in newspaper to keep it cool, knowing you are going to be there ALL DAY LONG, ALONE.  Alone with only your thoughts, your fears, the heat and humidity, the stinging bugs and the reptiles.  Endless rows of corn, thousands of miles long.  All day until you saw that old Chevy flatbed coming back to get you.  Hoping, as the thunderheads built on the other side of the river, that that old truck would get there before the thunderstorms and the lightning they would bring.

I do have good memories too, not about playing in the cornfields or hayfields, but the aftermath.  Laughing with my Uncle James, Mike and Rusty…after the hayin’ day was done.  Playing football in the fields and scratching yourself to death if you fell in the stubble.  Watching the sweat fall from my grandmother’s brow as she cut sweet corn to cream or turn into soup mix.  Eating that first roastin’ ear of the season.  Maybe tastin’ just a touch of corn likker.

Thanks, Kimberly…thanks for triggering a bright and warm memory on a drab, gray day.

For more of Don Miller’s writings, you may find him at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

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A HOPE FOR AUTUMN

 

After sweating through three clothing changes; the one I walked in, the one I worked in, the one I thought I was lounging in, it’s easy to grasp at straws, but there was something different about the wind yesterday evening.  Thunderstorms had rumbled around and about, none finding us.  With them came a change in the late afternoon wind.   Could there be a herald of better days to come hidden in its breath?

Sometimes we don’t even have fall.  Indian Summer will hang on like an old river cooter battling you for a fish.  Tantalizingly cool mornings turn into blazing hot afternoons with high humidity hanging on until a late October cold snap sends us straight into winter…but there was something whispering in the voice of this northwest breeze.  It was the voice of hope…but don’t get excited quite yet.

My excitement was tempered this morning.  I had to face the fact, it is still late July.  As I met my friend Hawk for our weekly seven miler, I made the mistake of checking my weather app before we began to solve all of the world’s ills.  Ninety-seven percent humidity with a DEW point of seventy-three.  It didn’t matter the temperature was only seventy-three at five thirty in the AM.  Even we South Carolinians living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge know, “it ain’t the heat, it’s the humidity.”  We returned to our cars covered in sweat, our running clothes five pounds heavier than when we began and the world was no better off.  From experience, I remembered, despite the flip of the calendar, there is little difference weather-wise between late July and August…unless it gets worse.

Still, later this same morning, as the heat rose and the humidity decreased to a DEW point of ONLY a tongue in cheek seventy, there was something about the wind.  As I made ever decreasing circles on my lawnmower I noticed it again, the breath of the wind.  Instead of blowing hot and moist as if from the lips of the devil, there was the underlying coolness of Autumn…like a cool lover’s kiss.  There were even a few leaves falling from the trees, caused more, I’m sure, by the strength of the wind than a change in season.  But they were falling.

I hope for an autumn.  Pumpkins and sweet potatoes, coffee and sweat shirts as I sit around a campfire watching the sparks defy gravity in the thermals created by blazing, dry wood.  Cool, crisp morning air causing me to see my breath rather than drowning in the humidity.  Long vees of geese and leaves changing from green to red, yellow and gold.  I hope for autumn like a child hopes for Christmas morning.

Damn, just saw the extended forecast.  Looks like summer will last into November.  We may go straight from flip flops and tees to long johns and polar gear…but then global climate change doesn’t really exist.

Don Miller has written several books that can be purchased or downloaded at   https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

His latest release is a fictional novella entitled OLIVIA which may be downloaded at  https://www.amazon.com/Olivia-Don-Miller-ebook/dp/B0742DF8B2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Featured picture attributed to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autumn