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©April 1998

Carol Jane Remsburg







The corn was tall in the field next to the little house were Erin lived.Its cool darkness was inviting on that hot summer afternoon.In fact, it was so steamy outside that the great maple treeís leaves were beginning to curl.


Little Erin was busy playing in her backyard with her dog as the sun blazed down from above.The sun might have been a brilliant blue but young children donít realize how hot it is until they overheat.Erinís dog knew it first, and headed for the coolest spot aroundóthe cornfield.


In the cornfield there were funny trails to follow and small animals and snakes to track down.With that thought in mind, the dog prodded Erin into the shadows.Erin had already tired of the great swing and the slide.Even playing hide and seek in the laundry as it gently swayed on the line had lost its appeal.So, when the dog begged Erin to follow her, Erin eagerly advanced toward the towering stalks.


Just before the cornfield swallowed her up, Erinís mental alarm went off.She wasnít allowed in the cornfield.Mommy had always been very stern about not going in the cornfield because of the snakes and because Erin could get lost.Then Erin thought, I wonít get lost.I can find my way home; I have my doggy with me.Iím not afraid.Then the shade of the corn cooled her, shielded her.There was the briefest of rustling and she was gone.


It was another world.The rows crisscrossed as they frolicked, running and shouting.Out of breath, plopped down on the dirt to catch her breath.Her dog, it seemed had found a rabbit to race after leaving Erin on her own.


From where she sat, all she could see was the brown of the earth beneath her and everything else was the green of the corn.North, South, East, West, and especially, skyward, there was nothing but green.There was a bite, like a mosquito, of worry, that even when brushed away continues to bother in an annoying way.


Iíve done something wrong, thought Erin.I did something Mommy will be mad over.I left the safety of my own yard where I belonged.This field belongs to the farmer.Will he be mad at me, she wondered.Are there snakes in here like Mommy said?Where is my dog?Am I lost?Which way should I go to get home before something bad happens?


Erinís heart began the thump faster as her worry turned to fear.She wanted to holler for her mother to come and get her, but she was more afraid of being found someplace she wasnít supposed to be.Erin wasnít sure which was worse.


Try to stay calm, Erin told herself with a smile knowing that it was a grownup thing to do.If I can find my own way home, then maybe Mom wonít find out.The big question was, which way to go?It was time to think really hard.


Her daddy had explained to her about the points on a compass.There was North, South, East, and West.He had told her that all explorers had used a compass or something very like one to find their way around.Erin remembered the afternoon well.They had been standing behind the house as Daddy pointed the different directions.The back of their house was North, the front of the house was South, their neighbors were to the East, and the cornfield was to the West.So, Erin knew she was West of the house, but how did that fit in?She knew it was important, but not quite sure how to make it work for her.


Erin felt frustration rise up in her.What good was knowing about the different directions if you couldnít figure out where you were?And, how was knowing where you were supposed to get her home?She was getting mad.Getting mad was better than being afraid, but a memory her motherís constant reminder popped up in her head.Getting mad makes things harder.Erin knew that she never learned anything when she was mad. Tugging harder on her imaginary thinking cap, she took a deep breath and tried again.


Her imagination floated her away.A picture of the field where she sat lay below her.Oh, she thought, the rows of corn run East to West, or is it West to East?Again, it seemed not to be the answer she was looking for.One direction would take her far away from home, the other right into her backyard.


The cool shade of the cornfield grew darker.It wasnít time for the sun to drop yet thought Erin, until she heard a distant rumble.This time, it wasnít like a mosquito bite, but a waspís sting of fear stung her into a panic.I have to get home now!


The only thing Erin has ever really been afraid of was thunderstorms.She could face giants, or really big growling adults with little concern.Big, ugly, menacing dogs became instant friends with her.No, Erin knew only one fear and it was a thunderstorm.


In a snap, she was listening as alertly as her dog knew how too.The road that ran in front of her house was South, hearing the cars pass by, she faced it.Okay, if Iím facing South, then East is to my left!East is home!Turning, she ran as fast as her 6 year-old legs could carry her.


Right behind her as she broke through the stalks and into her back yard was her dog running and pushing her homeward.There was a flash, and Erin ran right into her motherís arms.The thunder roared as they ran into the house.


For once, Erin wasnít worried about the storm outside.There was one right in the house, on her motherís face.Her mother was mad, but she was also close to tears.Erin could tell.It scared her.


Knowing that she scared her mother, Erin tried to explain how it had all happened and, most importantly, how she had learned her way home.Erinís mother wasnít listening, she was trying to stay calm herself.Finally, after the tears had dried, both hers and her motherís, Erin told her mother the story.


Even though Erin was in trouble and had a punishment of an early bedtime, she knew that sheíd learned two good lessons.One, to stay calm and think things out, and two, to always listen to her mother.


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