Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A strawberry shake to go

Hot summer days. Sweltering days when ice cubes and air conditioning feel mighty good. We all head for ice cream to soothe the spirit and cool the body. A strawberry shake to tame the savage heat.

Angola is a sweet little town surrounded by farms and lakes. I love small towns. Not much happens except for good neighboring and a bit of gossip here and there. However last week something happened that made neighbors nervous enough to start a neighborhood watch. A little town chilled to the bone.

The tinkling bells of the ice cream truck draws children from up and down the street. Parents gather  their change and follow the sound to buy ice cream treats for themselves as well as for the kids. It was the end of a hot day. 9:15pm to be exact. The driver of the ice cream truck stopped when the car behind her flashed its lights. She assumed the driver wanted ice cream: "A man ordered a strawberry milkshake and said, 'I want all of your money.'" He indicated that he had a gun but never showed it. The thief got away with $400. I'm not sure if he got the milkshake.

Who would think to rob an ice cream truck? I just don't get it. Seems that the simple things of safety and trust get further away all the time. The quiet neighborhood where children run across lawns, folks sit on their porches and sound of the ice cream truck are just part of life is changing into a place of mistrust. Was the robber local? No one knows for sure. Another similar incident happened a few days later in Ft. Wayne. During this robbery the ice cream truck driver was assaulted.

We have little carts that are pedaled around our neighborhoods in Portland. The kids run alongside the carts loving the sound and the treats that go with it. Some of our drivers are Hindi and wear a turban. A cultural experience for the children. Again, parents gather their money and head out to buy the neighborhood kids treats. Everyone recognizes the driver and waves as he pedals by. The summer experience is savored as the ice cream is devoured. Summer wouldn't be quite the same if ice cream was delivered in an armored car.

It's hard to believe that someone would actually rob such a delightful thing as an ice cream truck. I can imagine someone might be tempted to ask for a free cone. I never heard if the robber paid for his shake or not. And, obviously, the get away driver in the car was passing on the ice cream and going straight for the money. A simple order of a shake became a shakedown. A strawberry shake to go.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

There are not enough days

There are not enough days. There were not enough days for my time in Ohio. There are not enough days with my sister in Angola. There are not enough days.

I stopped by Newcomer's Cemetery and placed my red and white bobber on Dad's grave. I spent a little time talking to them then a little time thinking of the past. I said, "There were not enough days, Mom and Dad." I was home, but yet I wasn't. Things had changed enough that my old life on Neff Road was no more and remembering the past made my heart ache. I could no longer sit on Victor and Doris's porch. I couldn't run down to Stager's to visit for a spell. Yet I could stand on the bridge and look at a house, a farm that was no longer ours. I was missing the past and my place in it.

I told my sister June that home is really where she is now. She carries those memories of farm, of family. She has been my traveling companion from childhood to these senior years we have come to know. On this trip I increased our family by meeting cousins I did not know. Over the years, I have grown to understand the importance of relationships and the time in which we have to share them. My time with my sister is precious. I told Mom and Dad that I wish I could start over again and listen a bit better, love a bit stronger and hold a closer those I hold dear. I do the best I can, but still it is not nearly enough.

"You just think the best of everyone, don't you?" said my sister. Yea, I guess I do. I think the one thing I learned throughout this process of change is that my faith grew bigger. I found that my church was the world I live in and all of the inhabitants there in. The power of God I carry inside needs to meet the God in others. I will not leave a conversation be it with a friend or a store clerk until they have looked me in the eye. A look can say it all. A look of recognition. We all live in these pods across the world yet our world is rather small. I have so much to learn from others and their way of living. I have so much to give by what I have learned. What I learned on the farm showed me the essence of God. What I find is others is the face of God. This I learned on Neff Road. There are not enough days.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about today. Somehow the hands just seem to tap out the words and my brain follows. Coming home is a blessing. There is a peace that must be similar to the migrant bird returning to the nest. The nest is worn and traveler weary, but the fit is just right. Thank you to my cousins, my friends, my family and my readers for making my few days in Ohio a loving experience. I go home with new avenues to explore and a deeper need to return. And....my world a little bigger.

There are not enough days. But seems to me that we best make the time we have time when we look into one another's eyes and find home.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Worth writing about

I thought today I would write about being grounded in Chicago overnight, sleeping on a cot just a few inches away from strangers. I thought about writing about circling the airport for almost an hour with an hour's worth of fuel before the powers that be decided our plane should fly to Moline to refuel while waiting for an okay from O'Hare for us to land. Ready for a decent into Moline, Chicago opened up a spot for us. so we flew back to the airport where we would spent way too many hours. I thought about it, but I'm not writing about it.

Yesterday I left Angola, Indiana, heading to Furlong Road and my friend Sandy. I was thrilled when I had arrived in Ft. Wayne the day before. I had flown a long way for a sister's hug. But now I was on a trip down to Neff Road. I didn't realize the impact that crossing the Ohio state line would have on me, but a warm stillness accompanied me as I drove past the green fields of corn. I seemed to be driving through my life history. Celina held memories of ice skating and boating. North Star was where Dad once got a speeding ticket. On and on the memories piled into the back the car and followed me to Hogpath Road.

I was excited to get to Sandy's house but knew that I had to go home first. I almost missed Byreley Road. Franklin School was gone. Another piece of my past was missing. Grandad's octagonal barn made my heart soar. Then I turned onto Neff Road. Now you might think it was a sad trip down memory lane. Not so. I called my sister June and had her drive down the road with me. I stopped on the bridge getting out of the car to look at the house back the lane from a viewpoint where we often stood over the years. "June, it looks wonderful!" I said smiling...standing in the middle of the road. Mom and Dad would be pleased to see the place so well loved. I had gone home first for not only myself, but for all of those who no longer live on Neff Road. I needed to say "hi, I'm home" to the neighbors as I always did when I returned to the farm. But I'm not going to write about this either.

Last night I spent the evening with two very dear friends. Judy Neff, Sandy Bridenbaugh and I have been friends since grade school. We lost track of each other over the years of child rearing and living busy lives to return to one another in our sixties. Those girls who were friends have turned into adults who realize that this friendship is precious and one we all want to nurture. We laughed and teased and reminisced and promised to never let go of this thing called friendship. With the loss of so many in our lives, we found that we had gained in finding one another again. We talked into the early morning hours hating to say "good-bye". Facebook had brought us back together and would keep us together. But I'm not going to write about that either.

What I really want to write about is this: I grew up in a beautiful place that will forever be my home. My roots are embedded as deeply in the rich, dark soil as those of the oldest oak. The coo of the mourning dove is sung just for me. I know it. This is my land. This holds my heart and my love. This is well worth writing about.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Red and White Bobber

My eyes were drawn to the big card. The display was hard to miss. Over-sized cards made especially
for the occasion. A man sat in a boat with a fishing pole in hand. One large red and white bobber with a fishing line covered the corner of the picture. A card for a father. A card for Father's Day.

Brenda and I were our daddies' shadows. Where they went, their youngest followed. We rode on the tractor with our daddies. We followed them around as they did the chores on the farm. We sat in a boat fishing with them. We didn't care if we caught anything. We just enjoyed the time with our fathers who seemed to understand their little, curly headed girls. Brenda's daddy was just about as much mine as was my own.

As I have said before, my dad taught me all I know about nature. He always had time to teach a lesson about the wildlife and flora that shared the place where we lived. I knew each crop well because when Dad worked it, I was there. I rode in the grain wagon as it was harvested, sat in the corn crib as the corn climbed the elevator. I sat in the yard watching bales climb into the hay mow. When tobacco raising took over from the day when the beds were steamed to the days when it was stripped, Dad knew I wouldn't be far away. We watched lambs and calves born together. I learned everything about pigs, horses, rabbits, sheep, cows and chickens.

"I walk right past the mushrooms and you pick them up!" Dad would exclaim. "You have a really good eye for finding them." Well, I either had a really good eye, or he was setting me up for success.

Mom rarely was gone during meal time, but when she was, Dad fixed tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Dad and I roasted hot dogs together. We picked beans and peas in the garden. He pulled me around on the sled when the snow was deep. He made piles of leaves for me to play in when fall settled in. Dad taught me to dive, but he could never get me to swim. He taught me to love music, and gave me a gift each time he sang.

These fathers of ours are precious. They teach us little girls what it is to admire a man. They teach us what a father's love is like. They give us a mighty high mark for other men to live up to. Oh, dads have their flaws. Those, too, teach us along the way. We learn about ourselves in the way we are raised. And, we learn to take the good and try to understand the bad when we become adults. The older we get we see life differently. Sometimes we find gems where we thought there were none. Sometimes we find pieces of ourselves in what has gone before. I was blessed with a good man as my father. Daily I saw his love of the earth and his gentleness in tending it and its creatures. I was blessed.

I thought that I should buy the card. I could visit Newcomer's Cemetery and read it to Dad. It would be better than a bouquet. I loving message from daughter. A message for a father on Father's Day. If you happen that way, don't be surprised to find a red and white bobber placed by the name Willard Loxley. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you.

Aunt Alma, Brenda, me, Billy, Mom, Dad
On Friday, June 14th, I will be back in Ohio. There are many people I hope to see but am home such a short time. I will spend some time at the BRC, and hope to have a time meeting up with old and new friends in Greenville on Saturday evening. I would love to see those of you who have been so kind to contact me and those who remember Neff Road. If you are interested in joining me, please email me, and I will let you know the details. Would love to see you.