Doesn't it seem sometimes that everything around here goes down in the cornfield? Our lives are tied to the million acres of corn that surrounds us.
Last winter my car had a altercation with a cornfield, and of course the cornfield won. The problem is that it happened on a road that I travel when I head for town and I'm reminded of the incident each time. It's like living the movie "Groundhog Day".
I has just turned on to a slice of road that is only a mile long, a slender connection from one highway to another. There's one lone farmhouse, and nothing else but empty cornfields as far as the eye could see. The moment I made the turn I realized I was in trouble. Under the thin dusting of snow there was a hidden patch of black ice. My car was sliding out of control as if an unseen hand was pushing it sideways towards the empty field.
This is one of those strange moments when time stands still for a brief second and then moves forward in slow motion. Frame by frame I saw the potential disaster unfold. A bird flies just to the left of the car, I turn my head in the direction the car is moving and there's a telephone pole. I have no choice in the matter of whether I hit it head-on or not, the invisible hand is sliding me forward and slightly to the right. The car slides by the pole with nothing but an inch spare.
A camera would reveal that my eyes are now the size of dinner plates. I've narrowly averted totaling my car and possible injury. But the car is still moving and I have decisions to make, and in a split second my mind plays out the strangest scenario. I remember myself sitting in Mr. Isley's science class. He's lecturing on Newton's first law of motion, also known as the law of inertia.
Millisecond by millisecond my car is traveling past the telephone phone and deep into the cornfield, and in the same time I'm watching (in my mind's eye) Mr. Isley reading from the textbook.
"An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."
My lab partner Dennis looked at me an mouthed the words, "We will never need this information.....never, EVER!"
Unfortunately, back in the cornfield I realized that friction and the weight of the car would quickly put an end to any forward motion. I was faced with a decision. If I did nothing my car would soon be mired in the damp soil just under the thin layer of snow. This option would involve a tow truck and a hundred dollars. The other option would be to keep the car in motion and attempt an escape from the cornfield grip.
What would Mr. Isley do?
You can guess by his horned rim glasses and snappy bow tie that he was a conservative kind of science teacher. But I'm guessing he was also frugal and not wanting to slap a hundred bucks into the palm of a tow truck driver. I my mind I heard Mr. Glenn Isley yelling, "Gun the sucker!!!"
And I did. Because hey, he's still an authority figure in my mind's eye.
I obediently gunned the motor and raced madly over the field fighting to gain control of the car. I was four-wheeling in the dead of winter. The field was covered with the dried stubs left after the fall harvest and they were slapping the undercarriage in a crazy rhythm......slappety-slap-slap-slappety-slap.
The scene of the near-disaster.
The unseen hand which slipped me quietly past the danger now released it's grip and the wheels turned towards the roadway. I could see freedom just a short distance away, but there was the small matter of a roadside ditch to negotiate. At this point I envisioned Hollywood type airborn incident. Luckily the ditch was nothing more than a small impression at the edge of the road. I was back and the road and finally able to take a breath.
What's the moral of the story you ask. It's this - pay attention! Listen to every bit of information. Watch every stinking survival show that's scheduled on satellite. Because you never know.
You never know when you'll be required to make a pair of snowshoes from the materials in your car. You never know when you'll need to make fire or hunt an elk with nothing but your bare hands and a pair of cuticle scissors.
You just never know.
POSTSCRIPT - I was feeling all "Dukes of Hazzard" following my exciting run through the cornfield. I pulled over and after a quick examination the car appeared totally unscathed. Unfortunately my confidence was short-lived. A week later I was driving on the interstate to visit my daughter when I heard a strange sound. CRACK....It seems the front bumper had been cracked in my run and the force of the air (probably another one of Newton's law were involved) ripped the entire piece off and threw it under my tires. Luckily there was no one behind me. It didn't matter because when I looked in the rearview mirror there was nothing left of the bumper but a strange cloud of tiny black plastic debris.