Sound-deadening earcovers muffle the 25 HP mower on which I sit.  From habit, I like to start in a certain spot, the ditch abutting Center Drive that climbs up the dead-end road past the rental property and on to Craig’s place near the end, just short of the two pole barns that store his cars.  The rental land includes about five acres and his property adds another five, though I don’t completely mow beyond the fence that cordons off the last shed and the small hill that drops down to a stand of trees and swings over to drop to I-43.  Tucking the deck wheel into the “V” at the base of the ditch, I shift to “side-saddle” for the long stretch.  A push on the go-fast pedal and sits and rides and thinks begin on this no humidity, cool breeze morning that will become a late afternoon finish.  A lot of nature tickles, tucks, rubs, and breathes all around me – swallows dive and swoop for the stirred bugs aggravated by blades and noise.  A Monarch somehow clings to my pantleg while the clover alfalfa blooms harbor bumble and honey bees.  In a bit I will be scratching past and around the blue spruce and pines that dot the acreage, and too soon I will deal with the apple and pear trees – branches hung low with fruit that bonks my brain when my duck fails to be enough.  Fruit that invites wasps and the unpleasant thoughts of stings.

For now, just peace.  I chat a little with God and the Spirit all around me.  Sunshine, whispers, adrenaline on the riskier slope going back, and the ever-present drone of just moving along.  An old poem trickles through the spewing cuttings that puff dust and all those blossoms.  Edward Rowland Sill penned nature-think lines in a poem he simply called “Faith”:

The tree-top, high above the barren field,

Rising behind the night’s gray folds of mist,

Rests stirless where the upper air is sealed

To perfect silence, by the faint moon kiss’d.

But the low branches, drooping to the ground,

Sway to and fro, as sways funereal plume,

While from their restless depths low whispers sound:

“We fear, we fear the darkness and the gloom;

Dim forms beneath us pass and reappear,

And mournful tongues are menacing us here.”

 

Then from the topmost bough falls calm reply:

“Hush, hush, I see the coming of the morn;

Swiftly the silent night is passing by,

And in her bosom rosy Dawn is borne.

‘Tis but your own dim shadows that ye see,

‘Tis but your own low moans that trouble ye.”

 

So life stands with a twilight world around;

Faith turned serenely to the steadfast sky,

Still answering the heart that sweeps the ground,

Sobbing in fear, and tossing restlessly –

“Hush, hush!  The Dawn breaks o’er the Eastern sea,

‘Tis but thine own dim shadow troubling thee.”

A swallow flits past close enough for me to enjoy his cocked head glance my way.  I watch his path behind me and laugh aloud at the “wander” my cutting has made this round.  “I guess a good think makes for a crooked path on occasion.  You know, a ride that lets the sense of things settle a little closer to the heart.”

submitted by Dave Smith

(Poem is from Poems That Will Change Your Life, a compilation from Fall River Press in 2017)