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Trains and the Lessons of Seasons
There I was, probably not even ten years old, riding that unforgettable train.

They say about life that if you hang around long enough, have sufficient life experiences and garnish some kind of worldly wisdom in your tenure, you soon enough come to the point where you have confidence that you will never understand life at all.

Such irony suggests that wisdom is somehow loosely tied to a kind of intellectual humility; easily considered, yet often difficult to find.

But irony is not always so unyielding. There are some glimpses of easy understanding in plain view waiting to teach us lessons- for those who learn to see.

There is an old saying, which many famous folks have taken credit, which well describes the necessary skill-sets of any good writer– or storyteller. With a little poetic license you could probably apply to any discipline. These skills are; Experience, Observation and Imagination. It can’t be that easy, or can it??

Yep! These notions of easy understanding are just waiting to be picked from nature’s tree. And nowhere is there such clarity of the world’s complexities than secrets that unfold by biting into that fruit of such illusive truth: the lessons of the seasons changing.

Living a lifetime in warm, tropical climates it took moving to the Midwest to figure out that such lessons of season-less spans of time were one-dimensional. In northern climates you get the full dose of three-dimensional learning that the seasons offer-for better or worse.

Contrary to most popular preference, I never felt smarter living in warmth; some people do-most people do I expect.

Some folks, me included, need a more contained, compartmental sense of time’s passing; looking through a microscope rather than the lens of a kaleidoscope to weigh the perspective of the Big Journey.

Growing up in the Deep South, the only real seasonal ritual of consequence was the unpacking and repacking of Christmas, every twelve months, to give a tangible sense of life’s inertia. Sometimes a body needs more indulgence in change according to their individual constitutions

In the Midwest there are monthly, weekly, even daily reminders that things are changing- moving away from something then towards something new. Colors of nature changing, new growth flourishes, old growth dies, the sun the moon and the stars above-there has got to be a song in here somewhere.

Birds arrive like clockwork, raise a family, then without so much as a ‘thank you very much for all the birdseed and nectar’, they are off- they don’t even say goodbye. But one thing is sure, they will be back- at least some will and if we are here, we will all meet again.

It is hard not to feel the net effect of humility as these cogs and gears are always churning. They don’t even ask your permission to do so… or need you to explain why.

The agricultural landscape here in Parrot County is in constant transformation: fields in cultivation, barren, snow covered, spring plowing, planting, harvesting, growing, picking, cutting, etc. The ground is then let out for vacation until another crop is rotated. Corn one year, fallow, soybeans, winter oats, fallow, corn again-every farm has their own philosophy of such.

The same rolling land is quilted in an ever changing design as if fashioned by an artist who enjoys the process of creating more than the diligence of completion-such is a simple, comprehensive notion of nature’s canvas.

Art historians have x-rayed great master’s paintings to find that often the artists evolved a masterpiece with various designs and colors until the final form is created of the image we have all come to know. For many artists there is no final completion, only the separation of master and work- I guess like the relationship of any parent.

This week the color of yellow-gold consumes the bright autumn sun; gold in every tree, on the ground and on ever rolling hills off into the seemingly endless horizon. Looking out the window the ground is paved with a more brilliant gold than any artist’s brush could capture. Soon, in a week or so, it will have turned to a retiring brown, then finally under a blanket of freshly fallen snow, vanish by springtime but to feed the newly spouting lawns and pastures.

The hummingbirds are long gone, feeders all packed up until we see the first scouts in spring. The cardinals have become more present until they will eventually rein everywhere in crimson that contrasts the white and brown monochrome of deep winter.

Here on the farm preparations are made for winter to rule, based on hard lessons learned about insufficient hay, wet firewood and respect for the power of water’s freeze.

The lessons of the Seasons are endless and will always be so.

As a young boy I remember riding that train for thirty-six hours. Mesmerized with the new world revealed in panoramas on the other side of the glass, my face pressed hard against the window, gazing out in wide-eyed wonderment of so many images I never forgot.

I also remember looking around at the other passengers, talking, reading, drinking, sleeping. I was confused why they were oblivious to the magic of the passing views. Could they not see or did they just not care?

I guess they were on the train to go somewhere. For me, I was there for the ride and the view!