Herald and Journal, Oct. 9, 2000

Long, fall walks on the farm


Don't you just love this weather? Fall is my favorite season. We have been teetering back and forth between hot and cool these past few weeks.

Now, we are sliding toward the colder months. I'm enjoying October, before we plunge into the real cold.

I enjoy this crisp fall weather. The cooler temperatures bring the transformation of the trees into their brilliant fall colors.

I've been walking out along our field road for exercise over the past couple of months. The summer walks filled my eyes with the many shades of green spilling out across the corn and alfalfa fields. Some days, I walked along the newly cut hay field, smelling the fresh hay and enjoying the summer sun.

As always, my faithful companion, Indie, walked with me. Summer or fall Indiana Jones is always ready for an adventure.

The woods on the far side of the farm are a long, relatively narrow strip.

Years ago, Tom cut a trail through the woods, over to a small field. This field measures seven hard-earned acres. It's hilly and surrounded by trees on three sides, really not much of a field.

Tom and his brother cleared this field when they were just boys. This is the only part of his folks' farm that is still in the family.

I like to follow the trail through the woods and across to the cornfield. As I stride from the bright sunshine into the dim light of the woods, the silence folds in around me.

I don't hear the traffic on Highway 12 and County Road 92, which are both nearby.

Now, I'm in a different place. It's a quiet place. I often marvel at how much quieter and cooler it is in the woods. On a hot, windy day, it's a welcome relief from the beating sun. A spicy, woodsy aroma greets my nostrils as I stroll the trail.

I don't know if it's from the trees or the plants that grow there. It's a familiar part of the journey.

I stride through the woods to the cornfield, and then turn around and go back along the trail again. This year, our son-in-law, Keith, has cleared a wide path from the old trail over to their new house. It winds around through the length of the woods.

Of course, the trail was made for 4-wheelers, but for me, a solitary walk is much more enjoyable.

I can't imagine a place I'd rather be as I walk in the cool and quiet of the woods by myself. It's like being in my own world.

There are always interesting things to see along the way. I look for jack-in-the-pulpits as I walk. At this time of the year, the flowers are gone and they have even shed their red berry-seeds.

Now, there are several kinds of nuts and fallen leaves crunching under my feet.

At one point, the trail loops around in a circle. To give myself extra walking time in the woods, I walk around the loop and back toward the house again.

Now, I see it through the trees. At this point, I could walk out through Keith and Sara's yard. Not wanting to leave the quiet of the woods yet, I turn and head back up the trail.

Sometimes, I follow the trail back to where I entered from the alfalfa field. Other times, I make my way out another trail that Tom cut years ago when he and the kids were making wood for our wood furnace.

This shorter trail comes out onto the meadow. This year, the meadow is dry. You can walk across it in any direction without getting your feet full of the usual black muck.

The brilliance of the red sumac and the glowing reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves at this time of year make the woods even more appealing.

Soon, the freezing weather will come, the cold rain will muddy their fall hues, and the cold winds will blow them to the ground. But while they last, I'm enjoying fall days on the farm.

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