There was only the sound of the wind when the leaves came raining down.
It was a typical autumn day in late October. The morning sky was murky, the wind, when stepping into the clearing, blew a little too cold. We all were wearing sweatshirts and hoodies against the chill, then removing them as we warmed up, then cooling down quickly and putting them back on.
October in Kansas.
In the field of tall grass, a small group of young children, teenagers and adults silently bent to their work, collecting seeds into brown paper bags. Most of the kids chose to focus on the fluffy stems of Indian Grass. The yellow fluff is easily removed by moving hands up the stems without damaging the plant.
I preferred the tall Big Bluestem. Harder to find and well above my head, the stems grow on the tips like mini bundles of wheat. The colors vary in the light – golden, burnt red, a deep blue that you don’t notice unless you pay attention.
This field of wild grass and mice and insects sits off the paved road of a park. I’ve driven by it numerous times heading to grass soccer fields where nothing native grows except for the strong legs of the kids who run there.
This land once grew wild with these plants and then was turned over to make space for something new. The Johnson County Parks Service has since re-seeded many of these areas with native plant seeds, but they need a little help.
On this morning we were all working together on an Eagle Scout project; day two of a multi-level project to harvest seeds, separate them in the hands of skilled Biologists and ultimately replant new areas, restoring the grasses.
My children and I worked together. The little one alternated running with whining and then giggling. The very pink one who doesn’t like bugs jumped every time something wriggled underfoot. The oldest sneezed and hacked thru an allergy attack, but on he went.
We weren’t paid for the work and almost no one knows we were there. I got puzzled looks from passing drivers as we worked on the edge of the field.
That quiet day in the field my life became clear to me. I’m a Scout. My children are Scouts. This is who we are.
There was only the sound of the wind when the leaves came raining down. “Look” I said. In unison heads turned to the sky to watch the cascade of leaves falling against a backdrop of pale gray and blue. Then they returned to their work, smiles on their faces. No other words were spoken.
The world of Scouting is not what I thought it would be. Almost everything I thought about it was wrong. The organization has struggled with some issues, but at its heart are thousands of boys and moms and dads and siblings who quietly live the ideals they espouse: cheerfulness, loyalty, helpfulness, courtesy, bravery, kindness.
For all the wrongs in the world, these are many rights.
On that day my children wanted to sleep or stay in bed with ipads or paint their fingernails, but they got dressed, trudged to the car and did some good.
In the harvest, we sow the seeds.
~The Raincrow, October 2015