Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

Walking The Fields

Barley_Field2We’ve reached summer’s end,  the crops are gathered, the hills are stripped of their Fall splendor, and the barren fields are tilled awaiting their long winter sleep under a quiet restful blanket of snow.

In this fast paced world we live today, we hear a lot of talk about stress and the effect it has on our lives as individuals.  We each have our own way of reflecting on life and finding our source of solace and peace of mind.  Some find it in Yoga, some through prayer; others through meditation.  Ask any cowboy, and he’ll tell you there’s nothing more peaceful or serene than to ride a horse out on the open range.  When I was in the farming business and needed a solution to a problem I was wrestling with, I could often find the answer by strolling across my barley fields located in the Southeast Idaho highlands.

 The dryland farming area north of Soda Springs, because of the high altitude and fertile soils, is particularly noted for its high quality barley.   I found serenity in walking through my fields of growing barley or wheat.  Sometimes I would sit down in the middle of a field and marvel at the beauty of it all.  And while walking, or standing, or sitting in this scene, I would usually find an answer to that day’s problem.   There are four stages in the growth of the grain that I particularly enjoy; each of which, creates a different scene for one’s optical palate.

 Come with me now; journey back to those fields while I describe to you what I see there.  We’re strolling the field about two to three weeks after the plants have emerged; when the leaves are long enough to bridge the rows and cover the ground.  During this stage the young healthy dark green leaves, about four inches in height, put forth the image of  a plush four inch thick green carpet extending for a mile or more in every direction.   These leaves give off a waxy shine that emanates the beginnings of a promising bountiful crop.

 As the crop progresses over the next few weeks, it moves into the second, or boot stage. This is just before the grain comes into head.  As we observe the grain in this stage, we realize  everything is coming together.  The fertilizer has kicked in, the roots are reaching into the deep moisture, and we get an even greater glimpse of the crop potential. The grain reaches midway up the calf of our legs, lush and thick; so thick that it snags our shoes as we walk through it.

 After passing through this boot stage, the crop comes into full head, but the kernels are not yet filled.  This is the time in its growth that the field reaches its full beauty.  The lush carpet has now grown to a thickness of two and a half feet, and if you were to throw your hat in any direction out across the field it would sit atop the grain, it is so thick.  We stand there in this vast sea of green listening to the soft rustle of the wind, look out across the field and revel in the sight of the grain waving in the afternoon breeze.  It’s reminiscent of waves on a pristine lake, and we can’t help but appreciate the wonders of God’s handiwork.

 And finally, the last stage of our little stroll through the barley fields is just before harvest, when the barley is in the final stages of ripening.  The leaves are withering as they die off, and we are again able to see the ground between the rows.  The kernels are full and the heads are heavy.   So heavy in fact that they are tipped down tight against their stems.  The kernels are in that yellow green stage where they have not yet fully hardened.

 Although I was always thankful to see the crop reach maturity; the season’s growth  finished, and the crop in the bin;  I never seemed to find the solace standing in the ripe grain in the field that I did while it was in the growing stages.  Maybe it’s because at that stage, it was dead.

 I’m no longer in the farming business and no longer live in Idaho, but I later found solace driving the two lane highways off and away from the freeways.  I drove these roads wherever possible when I traveled; and still do whenever I can in my travels.  Idaho is known—for good reason—as the  “Gem State.”   Some of those gems are found in her natural scenery.  With gasoline approaching three dollars a gallon in those days, it was kinda nice to drive the secondary highways at 60 miles an hour instead of 75 on the freeway.  It was much more relaxing and saved money to boot. (Gas mileage really shoots up at the slower speeds.) One could easily spend a summer traveling within Idaho’s borders and probably not see everything she has to offer in the way of beautiful scenery.

Childhood memories can sometimes produce solace as well.  If you’d like to dredge up some childhood memories of your own, my little book Buddy…His Trials and Treasures, might just help you do that.  Buddy’s adventure take place in rural America during the 1940s, a slower simpler era of five cent Coca Colas, five cent Hershey bars, five cent ice cream cones, and ten cent movie tickets.  You can enjoy lazy summers with Buddy and cousin Mont as they gather bottles from the roadside barrow pits; swim with them in their favorite swimming hole the “23,” just to name a few.  For a free sample of some of these adventures, click the free download button at upper right of this page.  The book is also available for purchase at www.amazon.com.

P. S. If you are enjoying this blog and my tales, I’d appreciate you telling your friends  about it.  Thanks.


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Copyright 2013 Will Edwinson