Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sedgwick: Road trip renews memories of tasty treats, turkey hunts

October 6, 2011

Apple pie and small-town cafes come to my mind when I hit the Wellsville exit, traveling Interstate 35 south to a meeting in Emporia. A generous slice of homemade apple pie, topped with a slab of cheese and served up with a hot cup of heavy, dark, homebrewed coffee — the image drifted into my mind from some inner recess.

My dad and I used to hunt in Wellsville. On a cold morning, when the grass was heavy with dew and our breath came in steamy spurts, we trampled through the fields littered with corn stubble. The stubble crunched under our boots and our shotguns jostled in the crook of our arms, unloaded and opened until we reached the stand of timber where we stopped, plunked in two shells, snapped the barrel shut and waded in to look for turkeys, which were invariably sneaking furtively across the cornfield behind us and out of sight.

On the drive this day I saw four turkeys moving across an open field without a backward glance. It looked like their feet were just above the ground, they moved so stealthily across that soybean field, which was yellowish green and cut short. I caught them out of the corner of my eye before they disappeared in a stand of timber.

Catching a glance of them and seeing the exit to Wellsville was what started the cogs of memory to rotate and gave me pause to notice other things that day:

Soybean fields – yellowish green, some cut, some waiting to be cut; a corn picker slicing through a field, swallowing up ears of over ripened corn and spitting them into a waiting truck; a herd of cattle with four newborn calves — late for this time of year or so it seemed to me — fleeing down a hill with the carefree abandon of the young, kicking their legs, tails stuck straight out behind them.

Overhead, the sky was a dusty blue, with clouds the appearance and texture of oversized cotton balls, floating on a breeze that carried them from north to south. I looked for a flock of geese and their undulating, black chevron and saw instead the underbelly of a hawk soaring above, so stark and brilliant in its reflection of the morning sun, I thought to reach up and touch it.

The roadway was bordered with gangly yellow sunflowers, heavy headed and bent with seeds. In the distance the tops of the trees were turning: a blot of red here; a swatch of yellow there. Drops of rain splattered the windshield as I neared the exit to Emporia; water that falls lightly from a single cloud, while the sun is still shining. It was just a brush of rain, then it was gone.

A brush of memory; then it was gone. How sweet its reflection.

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