Letter from Birdland | A little help from my friends

Letter from Birdland | A little help from my friends

I've never seen the corn so high, more than 10 feet in some places, even some individual stalks here and there rising above the crowd another 2 feet.

It has tasseled, bringing the gentle scent of fresh corn silk on the wind and a new layer of color laid on top of the green fields. From our windows, we are high enough to see the tawny corduroy stripes of tassel over the green.

After the last soaking rain. I weeded the tomato patch in the sudden coolness, staying out until dark to pull grass and lambs' quarters from the rain-softened earth. I wanted to get some weeding done before heading to Kentucky for my alumni weekend.

The next morning was a fine day to be on the road, and I took the country way, zigzagging through Piatt County farms before catching up with the highway down in the southern part of the county.

About an hour into my trip, I realized I had forgotten the little packet of antipasti I had bought for a treat to share with Anne. Anne and I room together when we go down, and we like to bring little presents. Oh well. Michael would enjoy it when he finds it in the fridge.

For now, I would enjoy the view of green fields, following a good road until it crossed a better one, then heading east or south to catch the highway.

I noticed less mowing of the roadsides as I drove south, which helped me remember how the farm roads were in my childhood, twinkling with the blue eyes of chicory, or Queen Anne's Lace, which is pretty, even if it's not a real prairie plant, but a European invasive.

As children, we could walk up the road to White Heath and fill our baskets with wild strawberries in early summer, black raspberries about now.

Another hour passed, and for no particular reason, I remembered that I had left my parking pass on the table at home. Well, no worries. I may have to park off campus to avoid a ticket.

I met up with the highway at Arcola. Now, I would make real time. I was losing my radio station, but I would find another. I started thinking about Kentucky, how lucky I was to have nice traveling weather, how lucky to get to meet up with good friends.

I was glad I had filled my tank the night before. I wouldn't have to stop for gas. I knew from experience that I could get all the way to Murray on a full tank and then just gas up again for the trip home.

I was pondering whether I could hold out for my favorite rest stop in Paducah, which has lovely gardens and a mansion. I decided to go ahead and stop.

Soon I would take a left on Interstate 24 and cross over the Ohio. I thought ahead about stealing a glance out over that big expanse of water, Kentucky waiting on the other side.

Walking back to the car, I had another realization. I had packed my clothes, my books, extra pens and little snacks for the car and stuff for breakfast and lunch. Was I missing something? My purse! What now?

I had a decision to make. I knew I could make it to Murray, and I had plenty of friends there. Surely someone could loan me money for a few days.

The hotel and conference was already paid for. All I needed was a few meals and gas for the trip home. I was halfway there. If I turned around, I could probably make it home, but then I would miss the best parts.

I decided to press on, worrying, just a little about whether I would find myself stranded on the road, dependent, like Blanche, "on the kindness of strangers."

The road stretched out before me, winding and rolling. Before I knew it, I was at my old stomping grounds. I found Anne at the little motel we like to stay in, a vintage motor hotel with real tile bathrooms and picturesque gazebos in the yard to shield us from the traffic on Twelfth Street.

Later, at the evening's reading, I was telling my friend Candace about my adventures. She was incredulous. "Your purse is in Illinois?"

"Yes! I don't have my wallet or anything." I laughed at my own forgetfulness.

"What do you have?" asked Candace.

I put my arm around my friend. "I have Anne," I said.

How good to have dear friends you can count on to help when you need it.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is grateful for the kindness of friends. You can follow Birdland on Instagram (@BirdlandLetters) and Twitter (@BirdlandLetters). Mary can be reached at letterfrombirdland@gmail.com or via snail mail care of this newspaper.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Environment, Pets