Rain Falls in the Cornfield
Corn field across the street, sunsets and lightning
The Magical Sound of Rain
RAIN FALLS IN THE CORN FIELD
Since we moved here, we have daily been struck by the unique beauty and the vast difference in landscape and weather from that of the Napa Valley. I initially thought I would sorely miss Napa’s oak studded hills and Redwood forests; the hillsides in vineyards. While I do, I have found new views, beautiful sounds and a thrilling, ever changing climate. This place, Kansas, is beautiful. The weather is the most exciting phenomenon I’ve experienced in many years. Unpredictable and subject to change at a moment’s notice…or less.
This spring, flowers began to show up in fields along Hy 75, the main route into the small homey town where I live. This drive, by itself, is breathtaking. We are about 14 miles from town and, until we are actually within the city itself, the entire drive is filled with vibrancy everywhere; huge trees, wild flowers, flowing rivers and streams and fields of green…lots of acres growing corn and wheat, beans and crops I have not yet identified. Right up to the city limits, nature abounds.
As far as the eye can see, amber waves of grains abound; food and fuel crops, some of which which will become breakfast cereals, others Purina cat and dog chow. We live two miles down a gravel road; one mainly intended for use by huge farm equipment. There are thrashers and tractors, balers and tillers, heading to fields which are growing grains in various stages of maturity;These large contraptions appear to be two stories high…huge machines that look like something out of a Star Wars movie. Manned by only one person, always waving, always smiling and tipping his hat, these beasts crawl slowly on their way to their appointed task.
One day, just across the road, one of these behemoths appeared, driving off the road and into an open field yet to be prepared for planting. Slowly, it traversed the field, all day long, back and forth, dutifully turning the soil. What I did not know then but soon to find out: not only was the ground being turned and “combed,” it was also being fertilized and planted. What I thought would be two, three or more separate events were being done in one efficient, clean sweep. I had no idea farming had become so highly organized.
Sooner than I could have imagined, small, barely formed shoots began to peak from the soil, gently breaking the surface, bearing tender, and pale green leaves.
An amazing thing about this area is the rapid way in which all things grow. Trees we’ve planted have shot up one, two and three feet in as many months developing, in a year's time, large, shade producing canopys. Potted plants fill their limited spaces in no time. The fields around our home quickly turn from a pale, almost soft, mossy appearance to thriving acres of robust growth in a matter of days. The little leaves which were just peaking from the soil in May became, in a month, two foot tall corn. In another week, three feet tall, and so on. Wide “fronds” spread as much as their individual space allows, shooting upwards toward the sunlight.
The rains can come with very little warning, so the locals say. And I believe it. We’ve had a very interesting year, so far. One evening, while Al and I were sitting on our swing on the front porch, we could see an active storm approaching. Our main view is looking southwest, which is the direction from which most of the severe weather approaches. It is always so beautiful, watching the weather come in. It had been a little while since our last good rain and I was excited; hoping for thunder, lightning, strong winds and rain. We had grown used to the sights and sounds of approaching storms with their familiar development as they come near but, on that day, there was a distinctive difference in the timber of the advancing rain. This one seemed a little darker; and more silent, but I could not put my finger on it. Usually, the winds whip up before it begins to rain, giving warning before the deluge. As before, I thought I heard the wind coming; from a distance; afar. But unlike previously, it sounded somehow unusual. And I couldn’t feel wafts of air, the first sign of strong winds to come just before a downpour and I did not see movement in the tree tops, telling me that soon, I would feel the initial moisture, and then, quickly, bursts of wetness; refreshing rain. But I did see movement in the corn field…a certain undulating movement….still, the trees were not swaying as before; no gusts of wind brushed my face. Then, I noticed something I hadn’t seen before; and I HEARD an entirely different sound….it was soft; gentle at first. Clapping, slapping sounds. Slowly, it became louder and louder as I noticed the darkening sky and felt moisture in the air…suddenly, I realized what I was hearing; realized what I was seeing…a sound unique and unlike any other…for the first time, I heard rain falling in the corn field.