Watching the Corn Grow

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I have heard people say that, once they retired, they don’t know how they ever had time to work for being so busy. I have been retired for a little over four months now, and I can honestly say that statement is wholeheartedly true.

Naturally, part of the reason for this is that we all have projects that have been put on the back burner year after year simply because of the time factor. Let’s face it, working takes up a third (or more) of each day, sleeping captures another third and all the mundane chores of cooking, cleaning, mowing, shopping, etc. has to fit in the other third. Free time really is an illusion for the working person.

I have a beautiful red cedar Adirondack chair that I plan on using to catch up on some long overdue early-morning reading. Ron asked if I wanted the chair at my home. “Definitely not, I would never get to use it!” was my answer. Every time you sit down at home, there is always something that needs done. I would always be jumping up to do these things. I know me.

Yes, I have discovered that relaxing is a “learned” pleasure. I am working on it, but it is harder than you would think. I like to be busy … fact. Even though I complain just like anyone else when there are 10 more things to do than you have time for, I seem to be happiest when I am a busy beaver. Staying busy gives a person a purpose.

The major things are done. I have gone through all the “stuff,” had the garage sale, and have completely redone three rooms in the house. Whew … the big push is over. So, now what?

Slowly, I am learning that it is all about balance. I need enough work to make me feel purposeful, and yet I need to know when to say enough and do something just for the sheer pleasure of doing it. It is OK to sit down and do nothing. It is OK to take a nap. It is OK to watch a movie. It is OK to have down time. Yes, you guessed it, the person I am most trying to convince of this is me. Life is now a seesaw.

But, you know what? The other night I noticed the sunset. It was gorgeous. Wyatt has been taking sunset photos for over a year. Something about them really intrigues him. I would look at them, but lately I really “see” them. The other night I noticed the colors, the true colors, and how rich they really are. There is so much beauty in this world that we all miss simply because we are too “busy” to pause and really let our entire mind, body, and spirit focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is a talent that is better off left behind sometimes.

I am really trying to spend more time with the people that matter the most in my life, too. I don’t know how many times when I was working that I wanted to stop and chat or take the time when someone pulled in the driveway, yet I was always rushed to finish mowing, go on an errand, or something that needed tended to at that very moment. What would another half hour have been?

Today I was doing some errands and was within 15 miles of my cousin’s house. On a whim, I phoned and asked if I could stop and see the new kitchen.  She said she was canning and the kitchen was a mess but would be glad to see me. I promised her I would only stay a few minutes. We talked two hours. You know what, she won’t miss that time and neither will I, but if I had not stopped we would have missed spending the better part of an afternoon together that we will always remember. Nothing special, just time together. I am learning that it is not stuff or tasks accomplished that matter most, but rather it is the people in your lives. I do and will have time for them.

It’s the little things that I have missed most that I want to recapture. You know that junk drawer that everyone has in their home that never seems to get cleaned out? I got to the bottom of it … wow, what a feeling of accomplishment! I know it will not stay that way; that is not the point. The significance is that I tackled one thing that has been on my list forever and got it done. That feels good.

I force myself to take a walk and not think of when I will get back. Does it matter? What matters is what I see along the way, really see. The flowers that were not in bloom last week and now shower their beauty for all to see. The corn that was as high as my waist only last week when I walked by is now shoulder-high. In one week’s time, this stalk that started from one tiny seed has grown over 10 inches. Nature is something to marvel at.

Speaking of corn, here in the farmers’ world, we have all heard the saying that you can hear the corn grow on hot sultry summer nights. Really? Turns out that it is true. University of Illinois crop physiologist Fred Below explains, “On very still nights you can hear a popping or cracking noise. What you hear is the cell walls of the stalk expanding”

Around my neck of the woods, row after row of towering corn has tasseled, and the creamy silks wait for the half-million or more grains of pollen that will explode from every plant in the following weeks. I want to hear this with my own ears this year. I have time.

I’ve heard that if you hug a tree you can actually feel the sap, its lifeblood, run through it. OK, this may be out in left field, but I want to see for myself.

Life can go either way, because there is always a fine line between falling into pisstivity or positivity. I have noticed that when you learn to slow down and really experience life, you spend a lot more time in positivity. I like that.

These are all new experiences for me, and the more I experience, the more I want to slow my life down and not live it in the fast lane. Maybe I will bring that Adirondack chair home after all, and maybe, just maybe, I will even put down the book for a while. I don’t want to miss my chance to hear the corn grow.

Photo by Lois Hoffman