COLUMN: Indiana autumns

-A A +A

Guest Columnist

We were driving the back roads in central Perry County. My wife and I were on our way to a mowing job. We’ve been cutting grass for a living for 20 years now. It’s hard, sweaty work but it keeps you in shape. We own the business and we’re outdoors and in the sun, which means a lot to both of us.

It was mid-October and the leaves were just beginning to turn. Looking ahead through my windshield I saw that the distant tree lines were a mosaic of greens with hints of red and yellow scattered about with a promise of more to come.

Ahead, an unruly mob of Brown-eyed Susans craned their long necks over a rusty fencerow as if to see who was passing by. Our truck tires hummed a one-toned aria as we passed hills of gently sloping cornfields. To our right, rust-colored barges plied their way unhurriedly on the Ohio River, always reminding me of Tom and Huck’s adventures on the Mississippi.

Slowing to round a curve, a dog ran out barking with an exuberance bordering on madness and getting scary close to the front of the truck. He seemed bent on suicide as he ran alongside, barking at my front tire. I hit my brakes, which I have secretly always thought was their motive for that kind of craziness. I can imagine him high-fiving his pals after we’ve passed. It gets pretty boring out in the middle of nowhere.

Up ahead, across soft rolling fields, acres of brown soybeans stood tall and ripe for the harvest. Enthralled by the beauty of summer’s farewell, I fought to keep my eyes on the road as we swung past Derby and wove our way along the long ribbon of asphalt. At a stop sign, I saw a butterfly fluttering onto a flower’s petal and felt sad that I would not see his kind again before a long cold winter had passed.

Motoring on, we passed an occasional farmhouse, prim and proper, squatting a hundred feet or so off the side of the road. A farmer raised his hand in greeting as we passed. Above, a few hawks caught the warming air and winged effortlessly below the cottony clouds, looking for a rabbit or field mouse for lunch.  A turtle lazily crossed the road ahead and slowing, I swerved to miss him.

I’ve seen a great deal of this world. I’ve ice skated on a frozen lake in the high majesty of the Rocky Mountains and I’ve looked across the serenity of a Pacific island cove. I’ve trekked across the other-worldliness of the Badlands and peered at the beauty of Asian jungles from 30,000 feet in an Air Force KC-135. The world has a lot of splendor in it and I’ve come to realize that a big portion of it is in southern Indiana.

Aldous Huxley observed, “most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” I think that nails it as far as a lot of us Hoosiers go. We tend to look past the peaceful beauty of our verdant pastures busy with spring calves and the never-ending splendor of the Ohio as it meanders past on its way down stream. We have things right here in our back yard that millions in the world would think of as heaven on Earth.

Oh, I’m as guilty as most, except every once in a while I get a tap on the shoulder from somewhere and I stop, take a deep breath, and admire the things that I see everyday, almost as if seeing them for the first time. Our Creator has an infinite canvas on which to create his masterpiece and He did an impressive job right here at home. Stop and take a look. It may surprise you.

Adkins lives in Tell City.