Stop the Train

Have you ever gone down some train of thought and suddenly you see something sitting on the track in the distance? That happened to me this morning when I went out into the field in front of my house, a cup of coffee in hand. I was thinking about the long list of tasks on my list for the day as I stepped beyond the garage door. Suddenly I was distracted by a familiar smell in the air. Living here in our first country home, I have identified it as the aroma of newly harvested field corn. Then came the sounds of hundreds of crows and I saw them flying above me through the naked dark branches of the trees. Crows always remind me to speak my message but today it seemed more that they wanted me to pay attention to a message being given to me. I could hear other birds in the distance including a lone nuthatch to the south and the rooster across the road to the east. They seemed to be caught up in the emotion of the crow orchestra, the flute or tambourine joining in, that only a trained ear can hear.

The sky was a blend of grays and blues. It reminded me of what a garage floor looks like after it has been swept by an old worn broom. The sun was tucked under a pile of clouds and beams dropped to the earth below. There was no color of pink or orange as a sunrise might bring, just white light through the folds of a charcoal curtain.

We’d seen the neighbor harvesting his field last night while we blew out the water system that maintains our garden during the summer. Bernie commented to me that he was pleased that there was any corn worth saving after the summer’s drought. Of course, the neighbor would have harvested his work even if it were simply dry sticks. That is what farmers do.

I walked into the field and picked up a piece of husk and smelled it. Nothing. Then I broke off a chunk from the dried stalk. No smell. I found a red ear stripped of its seeds and scratched it. Then I could smell it, the aroma that was hovering over the land like a warm blanket. It will be gone by midday. What I would have missed if I had decided that my long list of tasks should mean skipping over this daily practice.

In most cases trains traveling at full speed are not able to stop when something is seen on the tracks ahead. I was able to stop my train of thought this morning and pay attention. I am not clear what the message is, but everything is changed.