Tragedy Down the Mountain

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The Quietness

    The slower pace and quietness of mountain life called out to our family during the 90’s. After the birth of our fourth child we purchased a home in the northwest corner of North Carolina, high enough to see into Virginia and Tennessee, and close enough to the Blue Ridge Parkway we could hike there. Yet the cities lay just an hour drive down the mountain.

Our 3,500 ft. elevation gave us resplendent Indian summers, but before the end of October, bone-cold nights and snow flurries checked in – to stay.

    By late November, Winter fell like the ax on the neck of the Thanksgiving turkey. She hunkered down with diamond-studded frost or snow, and branch-snapping winds. Often, after a solid week of fog, we’d bundle up, hop into the car, and drive “down the mountain” to Charlotte or Winston Salem just for a glimpse of the sun and the more alive smell of fall foliage.

    One such trip took us to a family reunion, making our light-sweater day especially long. Long after dark and everyone’s bedtime, we reluctantly headed home to our mountain paradise. I leaned my head back on the headrest as we accelerated against the incline, around the switchbacks – up and up into cold air. All four kids (two toddlers and two teens) snuggled under their coats and dropped off to sleep. The quietness in the car felt good.

The Event

    About five miles from the summit, my husband spotted what he thought was a deer carcass on the side of the road. A bit lighter in color than the usual deer, it almost glowed in the headlights of a car we thought may have hit it.

Two men stood over it, yet for some reason my husband decided to look closer. I stopped breathing as he made a fast u-turn back to the scene.

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    When we pulled up and got out, my throat tightened and I suddenly felt hot. I saw one of the men sort of kick at it, and in that moment I breathed a thank you to God that our two toddlers stayed asleep. For it wasn’t a deer.

    “You guys stay in the car,” my husband warned. “Try to keep the little ones asleep.”

       I grabbed coats from the older kids, and ran to cover what now was clearly a half-naked woman. She was alive, moaning incoherent, face down, but not visibly injured.

    My husband asked the men what happened.

    “Dunno… got here jis’ a minute ago. She was a-lying here, but we bin drinkin’ an’ well, we gotta go ‘fore the police come. We called 911 anyways and was jes’ fixin’ to take off when yous came.” They couldn’t get away fast enough.

    I noticed a small pile of clothes close to the car but said nothing to my husband who paced, waiting. As night deepened in utter quietness, all I knew to do was pray out loud for this woman. Her nails dug into the grass as I cradled her over the coats.

    In a few minutes the place swarmed with the swirling lights of police cars and men searching, wondering if a perpetrator might still be close. I kept my position over her, praying and consoling her.

   When the ambulance came, the EMTs replaced our coats with their blankets. Rolling her onto her back they yelled, “What is your name?”

    Her response, a loud fear-filled “Aaaaaah!” told that she’d been drinking. That fact and her car’s freshly cut tire provided a rape scenario (or conjecture) which supposedly began at a bar up the mountain. It seemed as though we’d been dropped into a CSI episode. As they prepared to lift her onto the gurney, the men EMTs asked females present to do as much of the steadying as possible. Their utmost concern for her dignity impressed me.

     As I returned to our bewildered teens in the car, I wondered… would this woman be able to tell them what had happened? Would the authorities work hard to find who’d raped her? Would I ever see her again? How will I talk to my teens about this?

The Meeting

    About three weeks later when the phone rang, I happened to pick it up first. The long silence after my hello clued me who had called.

Heart beating fast, I allowed the pause. Be patient. Give her time.

    In an almost inaudible whisper she finally spoke. “You …prayed … I remember your voice…”

    More silence. What do I say? “Are you alright?”

    “Yes, but I had to find you. I asked around. Can we meet?”

    “Yes, of course. Where? When?”

    We met at a local restaurant. The scene felt surreal. In a booth with ordinary lunch banter going on all around us, I sat before a woman in her early forties with pleasant eyes and smooth complexion, talking, or almost talking, about the most horrific thing imaginable. It seemed. As she thanked me for being there, I knew there had to be more.

   “See, my husband beats me. I just wanted a break from it all.”

     She went on to tell me about her clandestine plan to meet “another man” down the mountain. No mention of the bar, or her drink. The car started to act strange, she said. When she pulled over, a car came up behind, and a man came over to offer help. The darkness hid his face. When they walked around to look for the problem, he attacked her, dragged her down the embankment and raped her as she dug her fingernails into the hill. After he sped away, she crawled up the hill to get to her headlights. Temps in the 40’s meant hypothermia, pretty fast.

    Next thing she knew, I was praying over her.

    I met her once again a few months later. They had never found the perpetrator. She was fine, she said. “Life goes on.”

The Questions

    My mind reeled. She just wanted me to know that she knew I prayed.

     Of course I hardly knew how to talk to my teens about the event. Even after clipping the brief article from the paper I didn’t know what to say. 

     Do we think there are answers, or some better situation, down the mountain, up
the mountain, or on the other side of the mountain? Or fence? Will we reach out to
others with whom we can hardly relate? How will we do it? When it seems there’s
nothing we can do, will we simply move on in the face of tragedy? Will we pray out
loud when it seems silly to do so?

    Possibly one of the most important questions is:  How do people cope with life’s knock-downs without a real, rock-solid Home to come home to?

    I walked into our warm house on the top of the mountain that last night we met, and realized that prayer is sometimes all we can do. It was my minimum at the time and I must believe it was also my maximum. She knew I prayed.

Molasses Makin’

Romans 15:16  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (ESV)

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     I began my teaching career with a “boat” of a car, a ‘66 Pontiac Catalina, v-8 engine. Designed for the smooth roads of civilization, she seemed to rebel against the bumper-jarring ride to Billy’s house. He’d invited me to see the fall sorghum molasses-making, and it seemed a fun outing for after school on Friday. As the bumps and potholes banged our heads against the windows, I thought surely this “boat” would soon dock in some gravel driveway in a little farming area. Surely.

      What had I gotten myself into? What was “City Girl” doing deep in the Kentucky mountains? I mean, other than a job?  In 1971 the universities pumped out way more teachers than jobs in which to place them, and the U.S. presently suffered a glut of baby boomer teachers. I really should be grateful to have snagged one – in a nice public, albeit rural, school. I guess the children were my “other than a job.” One soap-deprived angel arrived on the first day with a little hop in her step.

      “Look, Teacher! Shoes! Ah got shoes!”

       Once, when the electricity went out, my windowless classroom fell into complete darkness. I asked the children if they’d like to sing.

       “Oh, yes, Teacher! Let’s sing ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’” As the students gathered around my feet, I felt something, or someone stroking my leg.  The red-headed lad probably had never felt silky hose before, either on or off a woman’s leg.

    Though the ruddy, freckled faces of the children had won my heart, I constantly worried.

      How in the world will my $5,500 a year salary continue to support me? There’s no way possible to make it through this first year of teaching. No way. Each payday, two hundred forty-five dollars…

     Suddenly my Pontiac ran completely out of road. Now my worry took a different form. No more road? Maybe I shouldn’t have done this. Billy opened the car door and cheerfully directed me out into the woods.

      “ We wawk the rist o’the way, Teacher. The car’ll be jes’ fine.”

     Walk? With nothing but dense woods in front of us, it looked like the beginning of a hike. I could see my panty hose full of holes and runs after this. Half walking, half hobbling, I inwardly fretted. Why didn’t I change clothes and shoes? A branch flipped into my face as if to force me to pay attention. Then, a clearing.

      As my eyes adjusted to the sunlight I abruptly came back to the moment. A dozen yards in front of us, a horse, harnessed to a long bar, trudged around a muddy circle. His strained push crushed stalks of sugarcane while a bucket under the mill slowly filled with juice. I winced at the smells of mud and manure as they mingled with the woodsy aroma of the fire pit nearby. A huge vat on top of the fire held what seemed like a hundred gallons of boiling liquid. I wondered how those ragged men bent over, sweating and stirring, continuously skimming off the greenish foam. The men neither greeted us nor looked up from their work, but Billy pointed to his dad and said they’d keep at it until late into the night, when that batch would be ready to cool and jar.

    Further into the clearing we reached the house. On the outside it looked bigger than I’d expected. Wood siding, a fairly new door. Billy led me to the side entrance where the kitchen greeted us with a chill. Now, away from the fire, I felt the bite of fall. For through the kitchen blew a draft from the unfinished, cavernous house. Studs framed would-be rooms and almost no furniture graced the plywood floors. The barren kitchen housed few utensils, which make me wonder if meals were prepared at all during molasses-making. On the walls, unpainted shelves held jars, some filled, some waiting. Curtains partitioned off bedrooms.

     Then finally, the big reveal. Billy’s bed. A separate, walled room held the beginnings of a bathroom, and as he showed me he beamed with pride. The glory of the room was his bed, the white clawfoot bathtub. Here he slept, he said, away from the noise and the chilled air in the rest of the house. I stood amazed at what I saw, from the production outside to the provision inside. I saw hope. Hope thrived in Billy’s heart because he had a place to sleep – and his daddy was making molasses!

    My fretful thoughts now shamed me. I had a warm apartment in town. I slept in a nice bed. I drove where I needed to go. How could I worry about my salary?

      As my huge boat of a Catalina drove home so many years ago, I asked the Lord to make me thankful for that day, for that tour of molasses-making. I asked Him to keep me thankful for His care, and for a lasting hope that always lay right in my lap.

Dear Father, Thank you for stopping me in my complaint! You are my hope today and always!

Hair!

The monthly ritual of cutting my husband’s hair spans 35 years. About ten years ago I began to notice my sweepings. Not only much less in volume, the strands started to take on the look of shimmery slate. As more years went by, the slate grew lighter and lighter. You still couldn’t see the extra-fine white hairs, just the gloss that changes with the light. Beautiful.

Unlike mine. In my mid-thirties my hair took on Mousy. For over 20 years I’ve fought the dreary-weather color of gray. But sooner or later, in a thousand variations of time and hue, we all turn white. And that is beautiful. Let’s be positive about it. I have two close girlfriends, young autumn women, with radiant, pure white hair. So today, while I salute the shimmery slate of my husband’s head, join me in a whirlwind trip back. Way back.

Do you  remember when Johnson and Johnson brought us “No More Tears” shampoo in 1957? It sure made washing hair for us little ones a lot better. Saturday nights, freshly bathed, smelling like cherry blossoms, we’d sit cross-legged in our flannel pajamas as Mom used rags to produce pretty Sunday curls. She’d wind a small section of hair around the cotton strips and tie the two ends together, loose enough to remove easily in the morning. The results? Bouncy ringlets that would last several days.

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When bobby pins came on the scene, so did hope for perms gone bad. Actually any hair problem could be solved with a simple bobby pin – or five or ten. I loved them. At about seven, performing a solo in front of the whole church, a bobby pin came loose and dangled by my ear. Would this deter me from my moment of glory? Not a chance. In the middle of the song, when my bobby pin fell to the floor, I stooped down, opened it with my teeth, and replaced it. Without missing a note. Why the congregation found that funny, I had no idea.

Just a fact of life, dealing with hair. At eight, Mom decided I needed to shampoo my own. Angry, abandoned, I filled the sink and flipped my hair upside down. Bang! my forehead hit the side, adding pain to insult. Mom’s fingers always felt like love as she massaged my head. Yet afterward, despite sloshed water on the floor and stinging sinuses and eyes, I saw a slightly older girl in the mirror. And that felt good.

In 5th grade bangs became popular. Both parents wrinkled their noses at the idea, yet I had to find out what bangs would look like on me. So I rolled a fringe of my front hair into a sort of flat hotdog– and kept it in place with lots of bobby pins. By supper, though, I decided against showing up with a hair hotdog on my forehead.

In the eighth grade a group of us girls attended Charm Class at the YMCA. We learned how to walk and dress well. But mostly we learned grooming and how to style, or I should say poof, our hair. Charm class changed my life– from a plain, giggly school girl to a coiffed, giggly school girl. That year my head grew at least three inches in diameter.

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In the 70s, with the advent of acid rock music, wild, straggly hair became a sort of free-spirit identity. This both shocked and disturbed me at the time.

And what did I marry?

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Yup, this is my hubby during the 70’s.

Which brings me back to his disappearing, almost white locks. Ahhhhhh… Huge relief as my mind settles back into today. I sure prefer our autumn married life kind of “free-spirit identity.”

Sometimes out by the pool, dripping wet after a nice dip on a hot day, I’ll pour him a cool drink and give him a haircut.

Then, in utter splendor he’ll sigh, “What a great setup. I actually get to sleep with my barber.”

 

 

How I Became a U.S. Citizen and Reagan Became President

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My family moved from Canada in 1957 just before I entered the third grade. On that first morning of school when my teacher randomly asked me to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance,  I had no idea what she meant. But I obediently walked to the front. When the children placed their hands on their hearts, I followed. Then, without another option, I simply opened my mouth. At that instant the class recited the pledge!

Now, at 31, a college graduate, a teacher, the wife of an American, and the mother of two American babies, I typed a letter to my then senator, Jesse Helms. How else could I vote for Ronald Reagan?

Here is my letter, written in the winter of 1980.

Dear Honorable Senator Helms,

Thank you for your service to our great state of North Carolina. I request your office to expedite the process of my naturalization to become a citizen of the United States. Would you please consider my request before the Novermber election?  It is with great excitement I hope to help elect Ronald Reagan as president.

In May my reply came from the circuit court. What could have taken years actually began to unfold. I was to report on the morning of July 4th, 1980, to be examined and sworn in with a large group of aliens. Oh, boy, oh boy. I hired a babysitter and hoped my hubby could get there by the time of the ceremony, 2:00 pm.

Dressed in a blue print cotton sundress with white sandals and hose (We wore hose year round when we dressed up…), I climbed the steps of the stately granite courthouse. Names echoed along the hallway as I waited for mine to be called. Finally, a bespeckled man ushered me into a an office. Could I name the three branches of the American government? Who was our first president? Did I understand that I would be asked in front of many witnesses to renounce the country of my birth? Did I know that my answer in the affirmative would grant my citizenship today?

I swallowed hard and took a breath. Relatives lived in Canada. It’s where I visited every summer. But American public school and college provided my education. America had given me my husband. America collected my FICA withholdings in promise to return them back in the form of Social Security checks some day.This should be a no-brainer.

But Renounce is a big word. Did I understand what that meant?

Well, it meant that I could vote for Ronald Reagan, the man we needed in Washington. I smiled and said, “I do.”

In the next hour the courtroom filled. It hummed with a low cacophony of many languages, as over a hundred onlookers stood shoulder to shoulder in the back. Where was that husband of mine? From the middle of the room, I began to worry. What if something went wrong with the babies? What if he couldn’t find parking? The air conditioner struggled to keep up with the need. We all sweated the rainbow of odors from around the world. Would my sundress get me through?  Yet, I felt blessed. This happened to be July 4th- a holiday within a holiday. And the ceremony began.

The judge’s speech, a bit long for the heat, charged us to be involved citizens. Then I gathered the nerve to turn around. There he stood, sleeves rolled up, crammed into the crowd. I guessed he’d jogged from blocks away. But he had made it.

Then, as the clerk read our names, each person stood. Such variety of color and style. Older Asian men, young European women, Middle Eastern students, Indian grandmothers, eager, all eyes glistened. Then as we stood in unison, the clerk instructed us to raise our right hand. Affirmations prompting I wills and I dos made a kind of choir. Our song proclaimed to the world that the United States of America now held first place as the country we call home.

Hubby and I drove home in separate cars, the babies had had a great 4th, and with my help, Ronald Reagan did become president that year.

So here’s my charge to you on this 4th of July, 2014.

1. Don’t take your citizenship for granted. Vote.

2. Remember that citizenship in Heaven means we renounce the world. Yes, that’s something to think about.

3. Love your colorful neighbors all the time. Be color grateful as much as color blind.

 

Cast Aside or Called Aside?


    When I was single and also shortly after getting married, my life was full- mostly full of ministry. I taught in a Christian school full time, had my own Sunday School class, sang in a chorale besides the pulpit choir, helped with church suppers, and attended women’s Bible studies. Between school conferences with parents and rehearsing or preparing for one of the above commitments, my new husband felt a wee bit sidelined- cast aside. He brought my calendar to me one day and said, “Something must go. Please don’t let it be me.”

Soon children began to arrive; and that is when I began, for the first of many periods in my life, to understand the feeling. Now, home all day with precious wee ones, little adult conversation, my duties centered around blowing noses, wiping bottoms, and cooking and cleaning. My hubby could always count on my presence at the end of the day, albeit somewhat frazzled. His was the life that seemed to really matter. For sure, it had to be more interesting! I remember several times standing at the door waiting for him, keys in hand, as he was arriving home. The minute he dropped his keys on the counter, I blew him a kiss and bolted out to meet a friend for a needed cup of encouragement (coffee) or quick shopping trip— not really knowing who I was any more.

Over time, things didn’t get better. By “things” I mean my keen lack of feeling involved and more generally useful. As a matter of fact my older children’s needs demanded more concentrated time than ever! I truly felt that I had been sidelined, sort of cast aside by God. Keeping a happy heart had taken on a whole new dimension of effort. Good and enjoyable outside ministries and activities had to be replaced by time alone with God. Getting to know him, finding Him real and faithful through His Word. Finding my identity as his child, and trusting Him to work out all my wonderings…

In these many years since the first time the feeling of uselessness overwhelmed me I have been gathering devotionals. Watchman Nee, Andrew Murray, Hannah Whitehall Smith, Oswald Chambers, to name a few. Through the challenges of these writers I have been drawn into the sweet private presence of God – whenever I would take the time. And looking back, those times were my sanity as well as my joy.

One of my favorite devotionals is the time-honored classic “Streams in the Desert” by Mrs. L.B. Cowman. If you haven’t added this to your bookshelf, I would recommend including it as one of your top five.  Written during the throes of caring for a dying husband, this loving wife compiled the works of dozens of authors to be an encouragement to discouraged hearts.

Have you ever felt “cast aside?” In “Streams in the Desert” John Ruskin explains that rests are as important a part of our lives as they are in music. What if every instrument played non-stop? He admonishes us this way:

“God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged by the rests… How does a musician read the rests? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there.”

Called Aside———-

…..Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone;
In secret oft His deeper love is shown,
And learned in many an hour of dark distress
Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.

Called aside——–

O restful thought—-He doeth all things well;
O blessed sense, with Christ alone to dwell;
So in the shadow of Your cross to hide,
We thank you, Lord, to have been called aside.

So, we are not ever cast aside, even when it feels so. We are called aside for His own care and pruning and training. He has work for us, but our preparation is often alone, with just Him.

Ice Skating Days

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Who doesn’t just love that opening skating scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas? How many movies regale us with skaters gliding on the ice rink of Central Park? And what about that musical jewelry box with a figure skater piroetting on glass while the music plays the theme from Dr. Zhivago? Everybody remembers Charlie Brown. There are dozens of Central Park scenes in movies. And girls with that very jewelry box? Too many to count.

But I remember the real thing. Wisconsin, where in long and bitter cold winters, one of the presents all kids wanted to find under the Christmas tree was a new pair of ice skates. My sister and I wanted figure skates. They had to be white with nice blade guards, and have high tops, with a thousand hooks and holes to lace. When they come up high on the calf, your legs look so pretty.

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And after Christmas, to use those precious gifts didn’t take a very long wait. As we’d finish a lunch of piping hot vegetable soup on a sunny Saturday, clouds billowing over a glistening cityscape, we’d decide, “Hey, Mom, can we go skating? Look how perfect it is out there! Sunny, cold, and not too much wind!”

“Ok, kids,” she would say. “Stay warm out there!”

Then bundling up like round, pudgy snowmen, we’d tie the laces together, throw our skates over our shoulder, and half waddle, half run down the street to the neighborhood ice rink. A short walk, chilled toes vanished when the sparkling rink, full of stumbling and streaking bodies came into view! Why oh, why did we have to go into that little oven of a warming house to get our skates on? It was hot in there, I mean really hot, like 75 degrees! So in no time flat we were laced up, crashing over the rink’s rough edges, into the bracing wind, on the glorious ice.

Whee! Around and around we’d go. It was fun to try to hold hands with a brother or sister or friend. Thick layers of gloves and mittens made a solid hold almost impossible. But we’d still try to throw each other in circles, quickly losing our grip, someone always ending up “down.” The ice smelled like a musty mixture of wood and dirt, like snow. Up again and around and around…
If you wanted to try some fancy spins and figure eights, you could head to the middle where there was always a party. Skaters laughed and taught each other new skills. When the cold began to bite, out to the outer circle we’d shoot, leaning forward to pick up speed. You could stay warm a lot longer doing that.

Of course at some point everybody gets cold. That’s when the miniature warming house with smoke pouring out a disproportionately large chimney, like the pair of arms you rebuffed earlier, stood ready to embrace you. Inside, crude wooden benches lined the walls surrounding a potbellied stove of coal or a crackling wood fire. The smell of the fire was easily trumped by the powerfully pungent smell of steaming wool. Filling every inhaled breath it made my head swimmy.  I loved it, yet every time I entered the warming house I had to brace myself against the wool’s intoxicating aroma.

Upon entering the tiny house, every skater knew he only thought he was chilled to the bone. It was a trick their minds played. The actual only cold parts were fingers and toes- and sometimes knees and noses. So this was a routine- a ritual.. Find a seat, talk very little, remove mittens, scarves, gloves, laying them beside the fire. Next, hold bright red fingers as close to the door of the stove as you possibly can. Talk little, take off your skates, and hold your feet up as close as you can get. Then put it all back on again! Amazingly this ritual often only took 10 minutes! And you’re out the door again, relishing the cold.

Throughout the years I never wondered who stoked the fires of the little house, keeping all of us continuously toasty. I never wondered where the little warming house went during the summers. Maybe I thought it magically appeared at the first week of below-zero temps. Maybe all children are so accustomed to their world “just being,” when it goes away it’s never thought of again. Or maybe many years later they remember and question how something came to be or how it disappeared. I never knew and never wondered. It just “was.”

But what I do know for sure, I was there for the real thing. No Charlie Brown cartoon or Central Park fantasy. It was winter in Wisconsin, and I was the girl in the jewelry box- on real ice, studded with diamonds, skating a Saturday away.

What about you? Do you have any outdoor winter memories from childhood?

The Morning of My Autumn

During my junior high and high school years — those post-war, pre-crazy years– Mom worked as a nurse and was out the door for her seven to three shift by 6:30. So it was Dad who rousted us out of bed at 7:15 and prepared delicious bowls of creamy oatmeal, which we called porridge.  Dad’s porridge was delicious to me, anyway. My younger sister’s was always too hot- probably not enough milk. My brother’s was too cold- too much milk. (Oops, mixing up my stories a bit here here…) Both siblings preferred cold cereal, but the pantry often dictated Dad’s choice.  However, with the freedom to sprinkle or dump as much sugar on top as I pleased, this “Brownielocks” loved the sweet softness of the hot oats, with just the right amount of milk.  The whole kitchen smelled of morning and warmth and security.

It was a routine we could count on. In it I found comfort.

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Why such a random tidbit snipped from my way-more-interesting past? Because long-gone smells and textures hold thoughts and emotions inside them.  My oatmeal memory succinctly and clearly captures the desire all children share–a desire to connect with Dad. You see, mine didn’t talk during those breakfasts. Maybe we were all “morningmute,” dumb from sleepiness. But somehow I felt compelled to connect. I often did this the only way that seemed possible at the time. By matching the rhythmic pace of his eating with my own spoonfuls. He would pray a blessing on the food and then begin a steady pattern. If he hadn’t been such a neat and orderly man, one might have called it shoveling. But after each generous spoonful, the tiny drop of milk which remained on the edge of his lower lip would be quickly blended into the next, thus making the process quite unmessy.

What tugged on his mind while he ate “on autopilot?” Was he across town dealing with a car part? Chores? He was known for doing the dishes and vacuuming and dusting before 8:30. Or were pressing issues awaiting him at the office? Well,  I knew what played on my mind.  To keep up with his spooning, stoke for stroke. Scoop, lift, gulp, swallow; scoop, lift, gulp, swallow– all in one seamless flow of motion.  Make fast work of breakfast? You bet! It never crossed my mind to time us, but I’m guessing it was about two and a half minutes, total.  And funny, he never seemed to notice that I was pacing him. He never slowed down or sped up, to enjoy the game. He just ate, oblivious to me.

Like rickety shutters on ancient windows, the most minute memories are portals to thoughts and emotions stashed under some musty couch,  further inside. These memories help us sort out both yesterday’s issues as well as today’s.

So we remember.

I like to think of this present part of life as the morning of my autumn season. Morning is forward-looking, the day ahead perched on your counter like a luscious, chilled watermelon, begging to be cut and eaten.  Or yummy hot oatmeal ready for the spoon!

Autumn, though, with shorter days, chilly evenings,  the pungent smoke of bonfires and the moist aroma of fallen leaves, brings a flood of memories- memories mixed with questions and ponderings.

Aging is not easy. Life is not easy. But,  in some ways these are the best of times. The kids are gone. Who cares if you hit snooze twice, or go out to eat three nights in a row?  Choices abound. It’s time to enjoy the youth you didn’t always know what to do with when you were young.

We all have a legacy to share. I invite you to share yours here as you read mine.

So the words written here comprise a combination of memories savored and lessons learned, with the optimism of possibilities and untapped potential. In any season life is hard work; but whether you’re a morning person or not,  morning in autumn is a great place to be.

~Joan