Walking the field

Behind my house is a large field,a church property. The field stretches across mine and four of my neighbors rear property lines at its highest point. From here it slopes westward an eighth of a mile or so down to one of the main streets in town. The church building, a small parking lot and the former ministers house, sit along the road. A picnic pavilion. horseshoe pit, and volleyball court are located adjacent to the parking lot. Running down the middle lay two fifty foot wide community gardening beds,rented out to all comers for a small fee. Between them a twenty foot wide access path and on either side are hundred foot stretches of rough grass. The northern side abuts another few acres of woods. To the south ,the property drops off to the backyards of the homes on a side street. Trees, dense shrubs,and wild raspberry unevenly mark the property lines. With open views to the west it is a good place to watch sunsets.

If I am home, I head there each evening to watch the sunset and then the stars. My usual companion for these walks, the cat. Though she roams freely through my yard and my neighbors, the relatively open area behind the spruces is a bit intimidating to her. Hawks patrol overhead,deer,groundhogs and others roam the area at night. The cat enjoys the outdoors, but is no great hunter. A human bodyguard is needed for a trip to the field.

As I head out, she allows me a thirty to forty foot lead, then with very soft voice, meows a bit and covers our separation quickly, arriving at my ankles to sniff around. Another forty foot head start and the procedure is repeated. If I stand in one place for a while or sit down she will wander about a similar radius from my position.

We play the game for a half hour or so the head back to the house. On the trip back, she takes the lead. Running out in advance,alternately eyeing the deck and my progress behind her.

In a month or so when the beds have been tilled, there will be a burst of activity as the gardeners ready their plots. By Mid July about fifty percent will be abandoned, when the reality of how much work a 25 x 50 foot piece of open ground takes to make it productive, or the initial excitement fades to disinterest. The local wildlife will take its toll also. Those that stay, mostly corn growers, produce pretty good crops, and spend a good deal of time doing it. But that is a few months away. Now the field is empty most of the time, only last years dead corn stalks, dried grasses and newly sprouted annual weeds rustling in the breeze greet the cat and I, as we take our evening walk.

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