Hoosier Bodhisattvas

79  bar steady 29.85 5mph NNW dew-point  67  sunrise 6:02 sunset 8:35  Lughnasa

Waxing Crescent of the Corn Moon

“What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up / like a raisin in the sun?” – Langston Hughes

To continue the raisin metaphor the next line might include the fact that raisins are nutritious and can, with adequate moisture, grow plump once again.

The corn tasseled out last week late and tiny ears of Country Gentlemen have begun to form.  The corn stalks soar an elegant, but seemingly fragile 7 to 8 feet above the garden bed.  Though there are only three rows and the rows extend only 8 feet or so in length, still it calls up all those corn fields of my youth, green jungles that flashed by as we drove on   crushed gravel roads, spreading a fine chalky dust behind us.  There was, in that time, a union between the maturity of the corn and our maturity, both green, filled with promise, but not yet ready for the harvest.  Corn, of course, has a shorter life span than most teenagers, but some of my Alexandria classmates were dead soon after our senior year, their maturation hastened by the fertilizer of war.

Though those afternoons and nights are long ago, 43 years at least, the marriage between my faith and the earth finds its true roots there.  The farms around home and the 4-H fair in late July gave the life of the land a prominence even to those of us who lived in town.  The sheds at the fair had rows of corn, tomatoes, beans, beets and cucumbers among many others, set out for the judges to assess.  Not the judgments, but the pride and the reality of these fruits imprinted on me those Madison County fields and the seasons through which they passed.

The family farm outside Morristown, which I visited and on which I stayed from time to time as a boy, had the same effect.  The corn shed with its slanted, open sides filled with the hard yellow ears of field corn had a mystery to me.  This shed found late fall and winter made one, the harvest stored for later use.  I loved the cool moisture of the concrete pools that held the milk pails until the milk truck came.  This was like a Celtic holy well, a place where the water burbled up from the ground, plentiful and free.  In the late summer the hay mow would have bale after bale of alfalfa hay, sweet and pleasant.

Below the hay mow the Holsteins would stand patiently waiting to be milked, their placid ways suggesting a Hoosier Bodhisattva.

Not far down the road, visible from the hill on which the Keaton family home stands even today, is Hancock Cemetery. There the harvest of generations of Keatons and Zikes lay, row by row, in family groups.  Not all that different from the hay mow in late summer.

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