Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Here there be Dragons and a Graveyard Dog

*Day 11*

Day 11 did not contain any fairs, tornadoes, parades, or historic sites. It was mostly a day with Grandma, watching Lucy, playing more checkers and chess.

It was one of my favorite days of the trip.

We did manage to get out of the house for about an hour and do nothing.

Nothing is one of my favorite things to do in Neoga. Nothing is like it's own little exploratory adventure. While the kids played at the park, I tried to capture dragon flies in my camera.
They would sit very still, then fly out suddenly for two or three seconds and return to the very same spot to sit still again.
I wondered what the purpose was of this. It reminded me of our hummingbirds at home and how they can't stay still for long because their itty bitty legs can't support their bodies. It wasn't until I got home and put the pictures on the computer that I discovered the answer:
They were on the hunt.
Can you see the little white fly he's holding?

Now I know that they are aptly named,
When taking pictures of quickly flying creatures, many pictures come out, er, uh, empty. This one did, but it turned out to be one of my favorite pictures of the day.
The kids kept busy playing volleyball in the wet sand.
Beach balls are much lighter and more flighty than real volleyballs. Someone didn't know their own strength and kicked the ball so hard that it flew up and out away from the court and into the rain-filled ditch.
11 Days away from home was having it's effects; we were
I was just happy to be beneath the ancient canopy.
When Nevan was in a Kindergarten, I had the opportunity to help in his classroom a lot. I remember the teacher frequently saying, "Hands aren't for hitting!" She was right;
Meeka had this worm

After the park, we hopped into the van to return to Grandma's, but as I pulled around the corner to cross Trowbridge Road, I felt drawn to the country. We took a vote. We turned toward the bucolically beautiful right.

It's a tradition of sorts to take a drive through the countryside when we're back there. There is a little spot near Trowbridge that I consider
It has no sentimental significance to me other than the fact that it was always my favorite part of that area to drive through, even when I was a little girl. It used to be a pastoral plot, too steep to grow corn, where cows could be seen grazing with the occasional horse or scattering of woolly sheep. There were no meandering livestock this trip, and the land that had once been a grassy teeth-mown dinnerplate, was now 3 foot tall saplings and brush. No animal had grazed there this season, and the forest was taking back it's inheritance.

We decided to stop to see if they still leave the doors unlocked at
Gaskill Church is where my Mom grew up attending Sunday services. It's just a little brick chapel in the middle of the country, bordered on the cemetery side by a creek, and on the yard side by soy bean fields. Remarkably, it has never been kept locked.
The register by the front door, if you turn back the pages, contains evidence of my family from years past. On this page from August 28, 1960, you see my Grandma's handwriting, "Mr. and Mrs. Leo Carruthers, Bobby, + Connie."
I think next time I see my that particular Uncle Bob (I have three Uncle Bobs), I should call him Bobby. Tradition dictates that we must sign the register. We did.

I plinked out a few lines from the hymn book on the out-of-tune piano, while the kids found a few toy cars between the pews. We left them there to be found by their owners the following Sunday, looked for familiar faces in the black and white photographs by the front door, and exited the single-room building with it's huge Bible at the front and coat tree at the back to see what could be found outside.

Walking into the cemetery to find our progenitors, we found someone already there.
Do you remember Happy Mutt? Well, this dog was so sweet and gentle, brimming from ear to ear, that we called him
Happy Mutt II wasn't the only friend we found there, we found many a bug and amphibian pleased to make our acquaintance.
Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were a little too pleased. Those darn buggers were downright enthusiastic! We needed to leave. Meeka, especially, was being eaten alive. But, there was truly a bond between
The kids were worried that Happy Mutt didn't have a family, but he had a collar and I figured he probably belonged to the pastor or to a nearby farm. The idea of a roaming dog was new to them, but it's just a way of life in Rural America. We sat down to say goodbye.
We drove past the farmhouse where my Mom was born, and then past this old barn that I always loved,
but instead of heading back into Neoga, I wanted to drive the kids past the spot where their Grandma Carruthers lived as a child. We drove around Lake Mattoon and through this little hollow.
Like everything else, it was wet.
We finally arrived. Of course, the house is no longer there, but you can see where the ditch crossing had once been. I snapped a shot of the new resident, who was so frightened by our unannounced arrival that she was frozen
Down the road a little further I found another token of times past, this beautiful
The light on the barn told me that it was time get back. As we pulled into Grandma's driveway, I couldn't help but remember the way Grandma's yard had always been a matter of pride to her. Not only was she renowned as a marvelous cook and baker, she had once held quite the reputation as a flower gardener as well. The beds were always bursting with blooms, the lawn kept tame by diligent edging and mowing. It is amazing to me how time can grow your talents, and time can take them away. Saplings are coming up in all the flower beds now, and these (below) litter the ground.
Each is a
Her once tidy and lush lawn, is now so shaded by the massive trees that grass barely grows there. In it's place is a
It's a miracle, really, that anything could grow there, with only the slightest amount of sun filtering through. It was fitting. As beautiful as Grandma's yard once was, I loved that moss carpet. As active, and fast, as talented and beautiful, as kind and generous as my Grandma had always been, she is like that moss carpet. Beneath that green rug is fertile soil, enriched with years and years of fall's mulch, winter's rest, and spring's renewal. The soil beneath has all the potential for goodness that it ever had when in it the roots of sweet smelling grass did drink and reach and grow. It has a new beauty now, fitting of it's time and age. So does Grandma. She's not so dependent on the sun, relying on her inner soil, enriched by years of experience to grow. She no longer needs clipped and cut to be kept tame. Her limbs are brittle, her spirit is bright. Her memory is failing, her love is undiminished. She is a testament to the years of service she's given, growing moss when she can no longer support grass. She is a miracle.

1 comment:

Carla said...

What a beautiful post. You could be describing a trip to my grandma's who left us in 1996. Now it is my mom's, my children's grandma. A little wilder, the love continues!! We call going the back roads 'the long way home'. She has a happy graveyard dog, but he's a dumb flower eating puppy acting, ugly pitt headed, dog.

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