Yesterday was a beautiful fall day — blue skies, sunny and relatively warm (65 degrees F.), a slight breeze, luscious green grass, leaves starting to turn. So I decided to go on an “adventure” – and take along “Joy”, our neighbor’s dog (whom we are watching for the weekend. She would have come along with me, regardless, because she is more of the “neighborhood dog” rather than just the “neighbor’s dog”.).
Joy is aptly named; she is a cute little bundle of joy, easily excitable and she has a perky, fun disposition. Whenever she hears us outside, she comes running to greet us and be petted. She runs fast, sometimes in circles, and when going on a walk in taller grass, she leaps more like a deer with both front feet at the same time.
So Joy and I set out on our adventure – a walk / hike around the neighborhood. Now, I live outside of town, in the country, and a “walk around the block” is four miles because the road intersections are set a mile apart. And we live on a dirt / sand / gravel road that has grass ditches on either side of the road and often a row of trees on one side and fields on the other side.
What made this an “adventure” in my mind was the fact that we were going to decide where and how far we were going as we went along (I was actually doing the decision-making and Joy was following along, just to clarify). We started down the road with the warm sun shining on us, with a slight breeze in our faces. It was the type of day where if you were in the sun you were warm, but if you were in the shade (along with the breeze) it became cool quickly. As a result, I kept on the side of road where I could keep in the sun.
About a half mile down the road, I decided to turn off the road and hike across a field of shin-high clumpy grass (not your manicured, short green grass known as a “lawn”), which was next to a row of trees dividing two fields. In my “neighborhood” it is okay to hike across someone else’s field as long as you know the person who owns the field (or maybe the farmer who works the field), don’t linger, don’t damage the crops or do anything stupid like leaving trash. So Joy and I are trouncing along through the tall grass, and after a few minutes are being followed by a large old black laborador retriever (I could tell he was old because of his “salt and pepper” grayed muzzle.) We let him catch up to his, greeted him (Joy in her way and I in mine) and then continued on our hike. He let us go on our way.
After about another half mile, we turned north to walk along a patch of ground with really high (waist high) thick grass and cedar trees — an swath of ground the farmers don’t plant and leave for animals to use as cover. I was hoping to scare up some birds (pheasant or quail), see some rabbits and maybe even some deer. But to no avail, we just saw some doves, robins and a few other small birds flitting from tree to tree. The grass was so thick and high that we walked along side in the plowed field — I was getting worn out trudging through the high grass, and I think Joy was, too.
Eventually, we came to a dirt road, turned west for a quarter mile and came to a hedgerow next to a harvested field of corn. When you hear “hedgerow”, don’t think of a row of hedges (green leafy shrubs about 3-4′ tall, neatly manicured). No, a hedgerow is a row of hedge trees planted as a windbreak and used to keep the soil in place. These rows of trees were planted in the 1940’s, ’50’s, and 60’s in response to the Dust Bowl and as a soil conservation measure. Hedge trees (also known variously as hedgeapple trees and Osage orange), are 20-25′ tall, hardy, with nasty thorns and an odd fruit called a hedgeapple.
So we started hiking north, with the sun on our left side, and along side this field of “field corn” that had been recently harvested (so there is the stubble of the plants left, along with occasional ears of dried corn). Some of the ears were husked (didn’t have the husk on them) and were full of corn; some were partial ears, and others just had the dried cobs left with no corn kernels on them. I personally haven’t had much interaction with field corn, and it is sort of pretty, so I picked up a few ears to take home, replacing and culling them as we went along, winding up with five or six with ears full of kernels. (This kind of corn is hard and not edible for human consumption, unless it is processed. One of its main uses is for feed for animals.)
We had been walking about 40 minutes and I realized that I “sort of” knew where we were, but not exactly. Also, from taking my bearings from the surrounding fields and trees, I began to think that we maybe have gone too far in our current direction. So we found a gap in the hedgerow, walked through it and started hiking toward where I thought home was. Well, we ran into a really thick patch of evergreens that we couldn’t easily get through. We found a deer path in the grass and wound our way around until we came upon this beautiful farmer’s pond — and I knew where we were (because I had fished at this pond previously with some neighbor kids).
After hiking around the pond, climbing through a fence in the barbed wire, Joy & I struggled through a field of waist-high thick grass and came to our driveway. We were tired and happy to be home.
So what is the point of the rather mundane “adventure”? First, it was an adventure for me because it was a bit out of the ordinary, had a bit of exploration, a little anxiety (not knowing what type, if any, animals we would run into), enjoyment of nature, companionship, and a “there and back again” journey. But the real fun was just going, and the learning that occurred during and afterward (I learned quite about by reading online about field corn.)
I hope you have the opportunity to take a little personal adventure occasionally — even if it just a walk where you haven’t been before. It makes life more interesting. What would an adventure look like for you?