Walking Along A Country Backroad

Last night I was out power walking, getting ready for my coming week in Switzerland. Since I’m a prairie girl, I figure I’d better get as fit as possible for hiking up those mountain trails listed on my itinerary! The scenery promises to be spectacular, along with the whole experience, but that’s all for another story.

Linda Aksomitis
Linda Aksomitis

I’ve been walking up the same backroad for, um, I guess 29 years, since we moved from the farm into Qu’Appelle. This year the crop, barley, is taller than average, but not so much so that I normally notice it unless a wide piece of farm equipment roars down the road, and I have to step into the field to ensure I don’t have a Stephen King kind of disaster.

The goldenrod is blooming, along with the clover, but the scent is subtle, much like every other August I remember.

It’s muddier than usual, due to all the rain we’ve had, but again, I never heed it unless my friend zooms past to feed her horses or a teenage boy on a quad rips by or the neighbor clangs and bangs along with his old farm truck — and then it’s just because I need to assess where to stand on the road, since I have to share it.

Strangely enough, despite the rain, there isn’t a cloud of mosquitoes. Perhaps the dragonflies have reduced the population to the point of extinction (at least for this summer) and moved on to richer feasting somewhere else.

And then I hear it —  a whistle that echoes up the tree lined road, out-singing the putt-putt of the old tractor.

It’s the first man-or-boy made melody I’ve heard here in 29 years, and it takes me by surprise, shocking me into turning around to see where it’s coming from. As the tractor, which I can see is much older than the boy, slowly rolls closer, the boy’s cheeks hold the shape of his tune, and he raises his hand to wave as he passes.

Then it occurs to me the scene is like good writing — the background peeled away, the everyday sounds and smells and sights rendered unimportant by what’s new and fresh and totally unexpected.

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