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Come Sail Away with Us to Where Beautiful  Words Flow Like Wine​​

A FARMER'S WALK

January 19, 2017

Around the Field  
nelson lynch  01/28/09  322                         
 
The farmer walked absent-mindedly around his field. He noted a tree that deer had used to scrape velvet from their antlers.
 
A rabbit had stopped by the tree and left a neat pile of small round pellets. Farther along the path, fur is littered where a fox surprised the rabbit.
 
His dog freezes and cocks his head. A fresh mole run crosses the path. He jumps on the tunnel and digs furiously.  The mole is not there.
 
A pine tree is dead. Different species of fungi have taken over the job of removing the tree. Beatles, centipedes and pillbugs help. The tree's dying is a mystery.
 
An animal path bisects the road. Small deer tracks. Their narrow toes close together. One huge  open toed track is over the others. A buck is nearby.
 
A loud toc-toc-toc-toc came from the swamp. The dog scares it. The red crested Pileated Woodpecker flies across the field.
 
The dog points. One front leg lifted. Nostrils twitching. A bird flies from the bramble in a strange upright position. It is the woodcock.
 
The cedar tree's limb is bare. All the leaves eaten away. The farmer squeezes a camouflaged cocoon. The bagworm is dead.
 
The black snake is soaking up the sun. The dog worries the snake. The farmer yells to leave it alone. The snake goes its way.
 
The green vine twists around the small oak tree. He remembers, 'leaves of three, let it be.” The poison ivy lives another day.
 
Pine needles carpet the path. Small brown mushrooms grow in a straight line. They weren't there yesterday. The straight line is odd.
 
An alien grows among the pines. The tall stem of the asparagus points to the sun. He marks it for next summer's dinner.
 
An American Kestrel is surveying the garden. Its perch is the roof of a bluebird house. It spots the farmer and flies leisurely away.
Around the Field   nelson lynch  01/28/09  322                         
 

 
.
Never ever vounteer for anything in the army.
 
 
 The First Sergeant waited until the platoon leader had entered the
company headquarters building. It wasn't much of a building, just a
small bungalow, with two offices and a large open space. The company
commander and the executive officer had the offices. The First
Sergeant had a desk guarding the entrances to the offices. No one
went in without his express permission.
 
 
“At ease, men.” The First Sergeant walked closer to the first
row of men. “We need volunteers.” He rubbed his hands together
and nodded at the forty men in the first platoon. “It is the chance
of a lifetime. I just wish I was young enough to volunteer for this
duty.”
 
 
All forty men leaned back and crouched down a few inches. One of the
major unwritten laws in the army is to never volunteer for anything.
It makes no difference how enticing the spiel sounds or in some cases
how it reads. Periodically an officer would give a re-enlistment talk
to short-timers. The bonus was always a ton of money, your new post
would be on a tropical island, plenty of young beautiful women, the
beer was cheap and the army would send you to a school to learn a
trade. If you took a discharge, there were no jobs, you were
unqualified, if you did find one, pay was dismal and you weren't
qualified for college. Volunteer for six years and everything
doubles. After re-enlistment, the tropical island base closed, so
they sent you to a tank repair school in Alaska during the winter.
 
 
“We have a few positions open for immediate transfer to Attu, a big
island in the Aleutians. It's a real gravy position. You do a little
guard duty watching the loran towers. You don't have to worry about
anyone stealing them.” He laughed and slapped his leg. “Alright,
how many want to sign up? I can only take three. The rest will have
to wait for the next assignment.”
 
 
The forty men leaned back farther until they were nearly ready to
lose their balance. The only other movement was a wider smile.
 
 
The First Sergeant waited thirty seconds. “Did I mention the
volunteers get a fifteen day delay in route to Seattle. That's
fifteen whole days to use getting to Seattle. You can go home. You
can visit the Grand Canyon. Or you can go to New Orleans and see all
the naked women leaning over their balconies. Come  on, sign up for
the duty of your lifetime. Your moms will be proud of you.”
 
 
Private Smith in the first squad broke the platoon's silence. “Where
are the Aleutian Islands? How is the surf?”
 
 
Private Smith was from Kansas and didn't have a clue about the
Aleutians or surfing. He was planning on living in Southern
California and being a beach bum after his discharge.
 
 
The First Sergeant  rubbed his chin and smiled wider. “Don't you
know? Why the Aleutians are a big chain of islands out there in the
wide Pacific Ocean. The waves roll across the thousands of miles of
Pacific Ocean and when they reach Attu, they are gigantic waves. You
get yourself a ten foot surf board and you are ready for the big
ones. How does that sound?”
 
 
Private Smith barely waited ten seconds. “It sound good to me. I'll
take it. I'm tired of Alabama. I want to see the ocean and sand. Not
mountains and red clay. When do I leave?”
 
 
The First Sergeant clapped his hands together. “That's the spirit.
A real red blooded American boy. You can leave the ranks right now
and begin packing. You'll leave tomorrow morning at ten.” He waited
until Smith disappeared into his barracks. “Now I need two more for
the great adventure. I agree with Private Smith. Lower Alabama leaves
a lot to be desired in the summer time. The temperature here today
was around 95. I'll bet that in Attu, the temperature today was at a
perfect 80 degrees, with a cool breeze blowing across the wide
Pacific all the way from Japan.”
 
 
Private Jones in the second squad halfheartedly raised his hand. “How
far away is Attu? I'm married and I don't want to be going farther
away from my wife.”
 
 
The First Sergeant tried not to smile. “When you've been married as
long as I have, you don't want to get closer to her, you want to take
the opposite direction.”