Perfect Moments: Driving Home Among the Cornfields

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A couple months ago, my oldest friend Tim paid us a visit in the Quad Cities. On his last day here, I drove him to O’Hare in Chicago, so he could catch his flight back home to Sacramento. This left me with roughly a three hour return trip home by myself. The first hour or so of the drive wasn’t particularly noteworthy, but as the sun sunk lower in the sky, the drive transformed. I was listening to an audiobook copy of “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail” by David Miller. I was enjoying listening to the narrator describing the adventures on the AT as the sunset streaked a variety of colors across the sky. Very few people were on the road, and though no workers were present, the construction zone slowed traffic to about 40 mph. It was slow enough to roll down my window without being battered by the wind; instead, I enjoyed the warm breeze, which smelled of cornfields.

The sense of smell can trigger powerful memories, and for me, the smell of cornfields brings back memories of my youth, of my hometown, and of days spent wandering cornfields at night with friends. Of running alongside cornfields during Cross Country training runs while in high school. Of harvesting sweet corn to sell as a fundraiser for Boy Scouts. And of driving through the country at night listening to music with friends, or even alone. Growing up in central Illinois, cornfields are an intrinsic part of my youth, and that moment, driving back home from Chicago, brought all of that to the forefront of my memory.

These memories combined with the warm breeze, the beautiful sunset, the captivating story I was listening to, and the recent camping experience at Lake Ahquabi into a perfect moment for me. All of those things, that perfect moment, really resonated with me. To other people, it may have just been a drive home after dropping a friend off at the airport, but to me it was a powerful reinforcement of my desire to spend more time outdoors and to invest more of my time and energy to new experiences and adventures.

After an hour or so, the construction zone ended. Traffic sped up, and I rolled my window up as the sun dropped below the treeline. The moment ended, like they must, but I enjoyed it and was moved by it while it lasted. I always take solace in the knowledge that perfect moments happen in our lives more often than we generally believe, and like this particular story illustrates, they often happen in seemingly unlikely circumstances. It’s a good reminder to always be open to whatever experience is coming next.

Do you had any perfect moments here recently? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments, as I’d love to read about them. Until next time, stay intrepid.

“´╗┐Perfect Moments” is a randomly recurring post that details some of the incredible moments I’ve experienced during my adventures, my travels, even just my everyday life. Hopefully they interest, inspire, or at least entertain for a minute or two.

2 thoughts on “Perfect Moments: Driving Home Among the Cornfields

  1. Allysse Riordan

    It must have been such a lovely stretch of roads for you! I could almost share your memories as I was reading it (having never had much cornfields around me, my store of memories of their smell and feel are not the best).

    I had a perfect moment recently too.
    I was walking with my partner along the overgrown cliff of England’s south coast. There wasn’t much of a view as the vegetation was blocking it. But as we reached the top of a path, the vegetation cleared off almost completely, revealing a small patch of grass, and a bench with a view. We sat down and in front of us lay a baby blue sky with long thin trailing clouds, a deserted beach with black rocks highlighting the colour of the sand, the water of the sea so still it could have passed off as a lake, and silence all around. We sat on the bench for a while absorbing this view before keeping on with our walk.

  2. Wade

    That sounds absolutely lovely! It may very well surpass the delight of cornfields -though we’ll never know until we exchange places for a bit!

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