Thursday, April 7, 2011


I was glad I pulled over to the side of the road Sunday afternoon. If I hadn't, I would have missed hearing the meadowlark barely visible on this fencepost. On a normal day I would have flown by at 50 miles per hour, windows closed and NPR filling my ears. Instead, I stood for a rapt moment, listening to the bird's simple, extravagant outburst.

This is perhaps the most beautiful spot in the world. It's just off the highway, and two miles farther down this gravel road is Shady Oaks. If you had my eyes, you'd see the grain elevator way out there on the horizon, and the trees lining the creek where a century ago an early settler hid in a cave to escape an Indian raid.

Oh, the stories I could tell about this stretch of road--about the man who drove off the road right here and spent the night in sub-zero temperatures then walked to our house, and how my mother wrapped his frozen hands in towels to protect them for the trip to the hospital. About Hamer's Pond, the huge indentation just beyond the next cross-road that always leaked itself dry before summer ended.

Last weekend I was back on the farm recharging my batteries and checking on Mom's tulips while Husband battled tax season. True spring is a few weeks off in that end of the state, but the morning was warm enough for a walk to the creek, a slow stroll that let me search for fossils along the way.

You'll find them everywhere, these fan-shaped indentations made of sediments and seashells and time.The rocks preserve the shape of the inland sea creature that lived thousands of years earlier, all of its soft parts long ago stripped away and only the essence preserved.

And it occurred to me that a few days on the farm have the opposite effect on me. My day-to-day routine pauses as I soak in the sights and sounds from my childhood that formed the outline of the person I would become.

There, my essence is restored.

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