I went to Iowa with my dad this weekend. We spent time visiting with family, watching football, and hiking around some land my parents own in Melrose.
I just love being on the farm this time of year. The fields are dappled with green but the leaves in the timber are crispy and you can see about 100 shades of autumn when they flutter in the breeze. All the cows are starting to grow a fuzzy coat and their breath puffs away from them like clouds in the morning when the frost is on the ground.
There are lots of beautiful views on the farm.
It’s easy to let your eyes wander and think deep thoughts there. I think that’s what my dad likes about the farm. No matter what else is going on in the world, at the farm, you can relax your eyes and look out into space. Usually all you see is the horizon, and maybe some feed tires for the cows.
I like the spacious views, too. But when we’re hiking I let my dad focus on the big picture while I zoom in on the millions of things that are happening at my feet. I love the scale, texture, and colors of the farm when I see them close-up.
The plants in the timber get a little freaky.
When I see a fungus this gnarly hanging out on a tree trunk, I have to think, “Wouldn’t that itch??” My dad was telling me that the Des Moines Register ran an article a few weeks ago about how native Iowa mushrooms are coming back into vogue as gourmet edibles. (They first became popular with locals during the depression.)
There’s no way I’d put one of these in my mouth.
On the prairie, there’s a whole soap opera going on in thistle. The enticing fuschia bud, the thorny stem, the rugged leaves. I love the drama of it all.
Not all the plants are so complicated, though. Lots of the flowers are perfectly friendly, like this amicable white and yellow fellow.
On this hike, one of my favorite close-up shots took me by surprise. Dad was fiddling with a gate or something, and I was killing time while I waited to cross the fence.
I don’t know why, but I had never noticed how lovely a barbed-wire fence can be in the autumn sunlight.
I’m quite sure there’s some kind of metaphor or life lesson hiding in all these images; I know it has to do with patience and perspective and perhaps with my father. But in all our hiking conversations we never really talk about all that– there’s no need. Instead we focus on the beauty around us and thank each other for the time we have.