So much in our lives is fast-paced. Walking is a slow undertaking. It is among the most radical things you can do.
Morning rain, grey skies, two border collies, and hot coffee. These are my morning companions. I feel called to walk in the rain. I must go.
I went for that walk, twenty minutes or so. Wool socks, waterproof shoes, shorts, cotton shirt, waterproof jacket, and a brimmed wool hat. I left my keys, phone, glasses, and wallet behind.
Even now, changing out of my wet shorts and into jeans, I feel my cold legs tingling as warmth returns. My shoulders while dry, cooled from the rain hitting my jacket and transferring heat.
When I first set out, the noise of thoughts beat upon my brain. Questions and worries flowed.
Where am I going? These country roads are busy, and no one will expect someone out for a stroll in gray skies and steady rain. How do I pick the safest path? What other thoughts might I have?
This preamble of a walk is like an orchestra tuning before they perform. It is a necessary part of every walk.
As I settled in, coming to an intersection, I went where I might find sheep. I walked and found my thoughts sinking below the surface. I was becoming part of this morning of wind gusts and steady rain.
Without my glasses, my vision was a bit blurrier. Not too bad as I am blessed with good eyesight (20/25 or so). But I started relying, subtly, and without intention, on my ears. Listening for cars, knowing my presence may well startle a driver.
And I noticed a disruption in my hearing. The rhythmic and heavy footfall of my boot striking pavement. I stopped. The wind and impact of rain on leaves filled my senses.
At first, I thought it to be trees making such noise. I crossed the road to step closer to the woods further back. I drew closer to the cornfield, now some eight feet tall.
The sound grew. The rows of corn, swaying as small gusts of wind passed over. Each leaf vibrating as raindrops struck; Tiny drums playing in concert. I stepped closer, cupping my hands to better hear the rain song.
At that moment, I heard a car approach. Tires pulling across wet pavement, a sound strikingly similar. Corn and cars, two refined products of the twentieth century. Corn planted as though on an assembly line.
I stood a while longer to learn that field’s song.
I turned back for home. As the corn’s rain song faded with my departing steps, I heard a new song emerge. More subtle, less overwhelming.
A field of soybeans, also bathing in wind and rain, sang its muted song. Was I inclined, I could’ve crouched or crawled low to hear if being above its leaves meant I heard less. But I didn’t. Instead, I wanted to hurry home and capture this memory.
There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting.
Instead, I slowed my pace even further, listening to the mix of rain pelting my wool hat and the trees both near and far. Time dissolved, and I again melded into my surroundings.
I rounded the corner and began my ascent up a gentle hill to my driveway. Greeted by waiting dogs and a hot thermos of coffee.