Friday, June 24, 2022

Where The Sweet Williams Grow

In this post I'm going to take a step backwards. I actually sketched this post out in early May, then promptly forgot that I had done so. I just found the words that I had scrawled on the pages of a notebook nearly two months ago and have decided to go ahead and publish them even though they're post-season. The pictures alone are worth sharing.

The house was ramshackle and, for the most part, was falling in when we moved into it, but the property that it stood on, and the pastureland and forested area surrounding it, was beautiful...peaceful.

It was the first place in which we had lived when we made the move from the Kansas City area to southwest Missouri back in 1996. We thought we'd only be there for a few short weeks or months, but we ended up living there the first six years.

On a Sunday afternoon in May, right after church, I decided to grab lunch at Casey's and take a drive through the state park where I work. While doing so, memories of Sunday drives and conversations with my husband filled my heart and mind. Suddenly I had a desire to drive out by the old place where we used to live. We hadn't visited there in years. 

The house was gone, of course, but so was the mobile home that had occupied the place later on. I thought about pulling in, but the steep and winding driveway was gouged with deep ruts where heavy rains had washed away the dirt and gravel. I was afraid that my car would high-center and I'd be stuck. I thought about parking at the bottom of the hill and walking up, but I didn't feel comfortable doing so alone. A deep sadness filled my heart. 

"You can't go back," I whispered. 

After a brief pause at the bottom of the hill I drove on. A deep sense of loss overwhelmed me and I felt incredibly sad and alone.

When I came to the crossroad I had a decision to make. I could turn right, turn left,  turn around and head home, or just keep on going straight ahead. I decided to go straight ahead, but I was a bit uneasy. This stretch of road was pretty desolate and I had told no one of my plan to take a drive. Not a soul on earth knew where I was, nor would they guess. I had my cell phone though. I'd be okay.

There was a low-water bridge at the creek crossing and I knew that the area was prone to flooding after heavy rains, which we had just had a couple of days before. I proceeded with caution. 

I wouldn't be able to see the bridge until I rounded the bend. As soon as I did though, the sense of loss that had been so overwhelming just moments before, gave way to a sense of wonder, and the feelings of sadness and loneliness gave way to gratitude. I had forgotten how beautiful this place was.

The creek was running high, but it wasn't over the low-water bridge. I parked my car and got out. I remembered a great blue heron that had often frequented the place back in the day. There was no sign of a great blue heron here today.

But, oh! The sweet williams were in bloom! I had forgotten how lovely they are. I picked a small bouquet of the delicate purple flowers and added them to the Indian paintbrush that I had picked on a prairie pasture around the corner from where we used to live.

The farmer that owned the prairie pasture had granted us permission when we first moved here to use it as an outdoor classroom and many happy hours had been spent there with our children exploring. The farmer is gone now, but his daughter told me several years ago that whatever arrangement we had had with her dad back then still stood, so I felt confident that it was okay to enjoy its beauty and pick a few flowers while I was there. Mingled together, the Indian paintbrush and sweet williams made a striking bouquet!

After leaving the creek, I continued on my way around another bend and, then, another. As I came around the third bend, there it of the most beautiful houses in the entire area (at least in my opinion)...a lovely old Victorian home that has been kept up with very nicely. 

I continued on around the last bend in the road before coming to the straight-of-way that led to a main highway. Rose verbena grew in clumps along both sides of the road and pretty black and white eastern kingbirds lined the barbed-wire fence that ran the length of it. 

When I got to the blacktop I turned off of the gravel with every intention of heading home, but when I came to the next crossroad...the main road that would have led me home...I spotted the old wooden bridge straight ahead and was lured down yet another desolate country road. 

Sweet williams grew thick along the edge of the forest on both sides of the creek. 

Once I crossed the bridge, however, flood waters filled the timbered area and came up close to the road.

The area suddenly felt dark and foreboding. It was definitely time for me to be heading home, which I did, and the day ended up being a good one.

No, I can't go back, but, once I got past the hill where we used to live, it was great revisiting the old places that we used to frequent while living out that way. Looking back, the best years after moving here were spent right out there on that hill and I'm thankful for the memory of them. Now, it's time for me to continue heading straight ahead on this road called life, making new memories along the way. 

Until next time...

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