Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Field Next Door

Each year Herb Miller, the farmer who owns the acreage next to our building, plants an alternate crop for the land's welfare and our entertainment. The soybeans are the more beautiful -- dense, compact, shifting from green to gold to rust as the seasons move. The October stream of beans from the combine harvester into the big hauling trucks is graceful and magical.

The corn is another matter. To my eye, the stalks are pretty only when they are  young and only knee-high, creating a thick carpet of lucent green. At the height of summer, the fields look leggy and tough, and they present a formidable barrier to long views. To give the cornfields some due, they do offer the amusement of looking down the rows as one drives past, dizzy with the shift of lines.

Now in late October, the field next door is one of the last of Herb's fields to be harvested. It is properly sere and spooky for Halloween, and one wonders what possible use can be made of the dried-up old cobs. Ethanol, I suppose. That not-so-good idea.

Any day now, we will hear the rumble of the huge machine that will make quick work of the field. If my timing is right, I will go for a ride with Herb, high above the corn.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Buzzing Giant Revealed

All summer the wasps' nest hanging near the driveway intimidated us. Big, papery, lumpy, and gray, it was the source of constant waspy motion and potential injury. Or so we thought. It turned out that the wasps kept pretty much to themselves, preferring the company of whatever they keep company with.

Now, after days of rain and nights of frost, the private outer cover has melted away, and we can see the intricacies of what they built and busily inhabited. Where did they all go? Do wasps migrate? Are they intense, skinny fellow-travelers with the butterflies, agitating the southward journey with their angular noise? Or do they lie, frail, dry and wispy, in the corners of barns and old sheds? In either case, I am grateful for this quiet, fragile husk.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

All Around Me

Living and working in an old elementary school in southwest Michigan, I have the luxury of having so much to look at. Eight foot tall windows look onto three acres of trees and grassland, and at this time of year, the view is loaded with golden tulip poplar leaves.

The inside of the building is wide open as well, with an 850 square foot bedroom, and another room of equal size that accomodates a tall wall of books, a seating area with inviting chairs, a 10' long dining table, a desk with computers, scanners and printers --- with room enough for a ping pong table.

Everywhere there are interesting things: art and books of course, but there is also room for objects rescued from the side of the road or found in peculiar places. I can't get enough of looking at this curious metal device, part of an ox yoke, and its companions, a pod and a steel ball. They seem to have had an ancient life together.