My husband and I embarked on an adventurous hike in a state forest area last weekend. Anytime one sets out to hike in this part of the world, climbs are to be expected, and this one was no exception. Even coming to the end of a couple trails, we were confronted with the reason for those climbs; sheer drops from bluffside. It's beautiful country indeed, even if it leaves these aging knees in momentary pain.
It was such a lovely afternoon that we found ourselves out far longer than we'd expected, checking all the trails available. Interestingly, many of the ridge top trails abutted corn fields. This being the very end of October, most of them had been harvested now, leaving only the stubble to glow in the late afternoon sunlight. At one point, what we thought was a late season swallow turned out to be a bat, no doubt snatching insects stirred up in the fields. Huge flocks of juncos would take flight at our approach. Though I love to see the change of colors every fall, the sight of a field recently harvested truly signals the seasonal change for me. The fields will now go dormant under the snow soon to fly. Even the way the light sits so low in the sky so early in the day is a signal to all who notice, letting us know it's time to go inward.
Corn is one crop that is truly native to this continent. Europeans struggling to survive here learned of its properties by observing the wisdom of the Native Americans whose land this was. Corn is revered in the cultures of some Native American Nations, and stories of the Corn Maiden are shared during these short, dark days of winter. Among the Pueblo, much like the Greek myth of Persephone, the story of the Blue Corn Maiden tells of the darkening days, and gives hope that the sun will again return.
As the days grow short, take time to notice and enjoy the seasonal changes. Take time too, now that we move indoors and inward, to share stories with those you love, whether they be traditional harvest tales, stories of your faith or simply telling the one about the time you were little and nearly killed yourself sledding down the forbidden hill. I tell many stories about stories, and in one, the ending shares that the storyteller is always welcome, because as long as there are stories told, the nights seem neither so cold or so long.