Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, sunshine in my eyes can make me cry….
— John Denver
At summer’s end, cornfields make me cry.
Summertime is a time for making memories. It’s the time for respite from hectic workaday, school schedules…a time to vacation, relax, reconnect with friends and family. It’s a time for trying out new adventures, going to summer camps and retreats, enjoying wonderful parks and gardens, getting out to indulge in the beauty of nature.
Summer lures us out to travel highways and byways near and afar. Summer entices us to put our busy life on pause. Its casual caress soothes the spirit, as we let go and drift along…meandering through lazy, hazy days, wandering uncharted pathways.
There are pleasure times and memory times… of barbecues, bonfires on the beach, concerts on the square, festivals and fairs everywhere. Never enough time, we soon come to summer’s end.
Summer lulls us into a reflective mode. From our poolside perch, our backyard hammock or front porch swing, there comes a natural discovery: Nostalgic hearts brim with summertime memories.
Remember when school resumed each September, and your teacher asked, “What did you do on summer vacation?” Sometimes it was even an essay assignment. Pencil in hand (or today the keyboard), staring dreamily out the classroom window, you’d wonder, “How do I capture those moments?”
Often, I picture the feeling of walking into a shimmering, misty cornfield, like the movie, Field of Dreams. There are memories there, of years and life moments gone by. Sometimes, you have to decide if you want to enter this field. What will you find when you venture in? Can you stand in the nostalgia? I’ve asked myself this many times, because cornfields, I declare, can make me cry.
I would realize this in later years. I’d discover – while reflecting on upcoming class reunions (this summer, my 55th ) or thinking of all the people in my life who’ve influenced its pattern and purpose – – that cornfields have an effect on me. Cornfields put sunshine in my eyes; they’re always there in the periphery of my memories; they make me smile, and they make me cry.
You could call it, going home. Symbolically, I think that cornfields represent home to me, a place of refuge. Curious about the meaning of corn and cornfields, I found a dream dictionary interpretation that resonates with my feelings about cornfields. “If you dream of walking through a green and luxurious cornfield, it signifies happiness and true friends.”
Cornfields make me think of my roots, of home.
This makes perfect sense to me. I spent my early years in the farmlands of the middle of Michigan’s mitten. After college came an interlude along the St Clair River inland waterways (where I internalized another favorite theme – rivers and boats), but back again I moved among the cornfields and dairy farms of southeastern Michigan. Still surrounded by the cornfields of summer, I’ve become aware of their magnetic hold on the landscape of my soul.
In the interim between my recent high school reunions (50th and 55th), there’s been that television commercial – you’ve probably seen it – that plays up our hemming and hawing inclination when it comes to revisiting the past. “Should I stay, or should I go?” That’s the theme, as the actors portray our wrestling with the matter. “I haven’t got a single thing to wear?” “Will they be looking at my hair?”
I laugh every time, because it’s so true to our human nature. Whether it’s a class reunion or a family reunion, part of us wants to be there; part of us feels obligated to be there; part of us probably wishes we could just be a fly on the wall – observing, but not having to engage our hearts and minds. For some of us, it seems too great a stress to bear.
So, why do we go? We go because we’re always drawn back home – to our roots. We go because returning helps us process our life story. We go, because something makes us go – or not go, as in the case of my husband, who chooses not to attend his. The irony is that he enjoys mine; he sees the positive effect on me; and he knows I’m always glad I did go.
There’s something about reconnecting with people who knew you…when.
I’ve written about class reunions before. I recall a piece about my 25-year experience circa 1986 (wish I could find it), probably buried in the archives of the Livingston County Press. I’d spent a summer working there in place of a staff person on maternity leave. That was a marker summer that included that marker reunion and my subsequent column about it. Thirty years later, I’m glad I followed my hunch and ventured forth into that field of dreams.
This summer was a people summer: connecting again with my first friends at my reunion – those who knew me…when, catching up at gatherings of extended family, impromptu visits with longtime friends, vacationing with our kids. Summertime is making memories time. The ties grow more important.
Traversing the cornfields of summer, going back to our roots, grounds us, I believe. We each have our personal field of dreams, our sentimental journey home. For me, cornfields are a nurturing presence, reminding me of all that I have, all that I’ve been. They make me feel happy, and they make me cry.