We were touring the skeletal remains of corn fields in search of Sandhill Cranes, but we did not hear any bugle calls or see large birds in flight. It seemed the winter visitors had already migrated to their next residence.
Occasionally a fleck of ice would mix with the drizzle hitting the windshield of the blue Ford truck as my brother and I drove the back roads listening to the radio and looking for any amusement we could find. The last Saturday of January in Barren County, Kentucky was wet, gray and uninspiring.
We ended up at Redbud. This farm has not been in cultivation in over a decade. Dad had put it into a Federal program that supported seeding the fields in native grasses. When the program ended Dad left it wild other than cutting pathways around the farm so he can drive around on his side by side. His friends think that he is nuts for letting a good farm go to waste, but the whole family enjoys the natural state of this farm that butts up to Mammoth Cave National Park. Spring through fall we watch the progression of wild flowers and the walnut tress that are rapidly taking over the back corner. My father spent his career working in and raising his three children in National Parks. We have fun in touring amongst the Cone Flowers, Passion Flowers, wild bees and butterflies.
On this winter day my brother and I were on foot. The only color in the dormant field came from Coralberry which is a winter food source for birds. Seemingly fossilized relics of Queen Anne’s Lace, Milkweed and thistles were ghosts of the abundance of September. Our excitement was seeing a white-tailed buck as he headed toward the trees. My perpetually happy blue heeler pup was racing unseen opponents up and down the pathway. I think she was winning.
For the siblings it was a lonely togetherness with each of us in silence with our own thoughts. Occasionally one of us would point out something or ask a question, but it was a quiet walk. As we reached the back property line with the Park, the drizzle became rain. It was that kind of day.