Some places are born seasonally. They come back year after year, and our experiences with them grow and accumulate.
It is a late summer evening in New England. The garden is overflowing with vegetables and weeds. The berry patch has almost played out. The chickens are clucking quietly in the evening air. The cornfield has reached its ultimate height establishing a temporary mass along the riverbank. Topped with golden tassels, the feathery towers of warm, green corn grow ten feet tall by August.
Standing at the base of a stalk, where wild morning glory vines have grown, our eye is drawn upward to the sky and then inward to the open spaces between the rows where arcing leaves form tunnels. Stepping between the rows we duck our heads and run until we turn, round and round, unable to see where we have come from or where we are going. All we can see is the dirt at our feet and the sky above poking through the interwoven green. All we can feel is the warm, wet density of plants on either side keeping us contained.
“When will it stop?” Josephine asks.
“It goes on for acres,” I reply.
She stops to play a tune on her recorder.
“A spider’s gonna bite me on the ear again!” she exclaims suddenly as we travel
rapidly forward, deeper into the corn, fear and excitement canceling each other out. Later, we sit on our hilltop overlooking the corn and Josephine wonders, “What if there was a corn ladder? A ladder we could climb up and all the way across the top of the
corn?” She plays again on her recorder and tells me she’d like to have a tree house right here where we’re sitting: out in the open, on the top of the hill, where no trees are growing. I wonder then if it would feel the same after the corn has been harvested and gathered for the season. I think not, but then it matters not. There are new adventures in the winter and spring and fall that have their own genius in them and make us forget that there was ever anything else.
We gather our things and walk back toward the house, stopping briefly by the wild jewelweed. The orange speckled petals grow like sumptuous lips. The flowers hang from watery, green stems, mouths agape, waiting for fertilization. We clasp a seedpod within our finger tips, making the skin coil suddenly back into tight curls. The seeds burst forth onto the ground. As we head back into the house, the crickets start their evening song. They sound new, different, and yet deeply familiar.
It is time for the season to change again, and yet it is hard to know what that change will bring. In a way, it has never happened before.