m Celtic Cross Celtic Cross - Average Everyday Sane Psycho Supergoddess

March 14, 2005

Country Roads

Last night, after having put the wee one to bed, I settled into the lazy boy. Clicking through the channels to see what was on, I came across a PBS special that was filmed years ago. It was John Denver. I don’t know how many of you know John’s music, but I was raised on it. The remote was parked and I was transported to anther time.

“Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah river
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place, I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads”

I spent a good share of my childhood in the Virginia mountains, and on country roads. John’s music, songs that we used to sing as a family on long car rides and around campfires, took me back to that time - a time of innocence, wonder and discovery.

I used to spend some summers, that endless stretch between school years, with my Aunt Bev and Uncle Milan, poking my toes in Smith Mountain lake, trying to catch guppies & collecting rocks or chasing tobacco snakes through the fields. The rest of my summers (and every other chance I got) were spent with my Grandparents on the farm.

Grandpa & Grandma had a farm of about 300 acres, lush green pastures, corn and soybeans stretching over the rolling hills. It was a couple hours’ drive from mom and dad’s house, and I would usually sleep through the trip. I was normally awoken by the change in roads at the state line – it is the most peculiar thing. As soon as you leave Iowa, with straight line highways and gently rolling hills, and cross over into Missouri, the topography changed dramatically. The people who built the Missouri roads did not cut them into the hillside, so they followed the land, so steep that you’d go airborne at the top if you were going too fast. Grandma’s house was only a few miles from the state line, we were almost there.

My tiny Grandma would always hear us coming up the road, and would run out to greet us with open arms. Inside, there would chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, her wonderful rolls and pumpkin pie. The summer would be spent helping her feed the chickens, gather the eggs, tending the garden. Grandpa would let me drive the tractor when we went to feed the cows. It was so funny how the cows would follow the tractor, knowing what we were there for.

It was always fun to plant the garden. Grandpa would get out the tiller – the kind that is made to pull behind a horse or a bull, and hitch it to the tractor. Dad would drive, and grandpa would literally ride the tiller, standing on it as he would guide it through the ground to plant potatoes.

Grandma tried to teach me to crochet, bless her heart. I never had the patience to stick with it. We did do a lot of crafts, made play-dough out of salt and who-knows-what and I had the coolest sandbox made out of a washtub to play in, complete with a lid to keep the cat poop out.

There were cats everywhere – mostly feral, and I would consider it my challenge to have them all tamed by the end of the summer. All of the animals were my friends – even the chickens. I would chase a chicken around and around the barnyard until it would literally wear out. The chicken would give up and simply sit down and I would sit next to it and pet it. Grandma was always very good at making sure I wasn’t around when Grandpa killed one for supper.

I spent my days poking around in the barn, exploring the hay loft, or chasing mice in the grain bins. I would ride my mom’s old scooter around the farm, and pick flowers to make a bouquet for Grandma. She always made a fuss over my bouquets.

Grandma passed away a few years ago. I miss her so. Grandpa is still alive, but is in a nursing home now. He is 93 and wishing he were with Grandma.

“Hey, it's good to be back home again
Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend
Yes, 'n, hey it's good to be back home again”

I miss John Denver, too. His songs meant a lot to me, and seeing him sing last night was like a breath of the fresh, clean country air that I grew up on. Thank you John and thank you PBS.

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