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Archive for October, 2008

Driving home this Sunday afternoon out of sheer spontaneity (well, close to it) made my heart race and sing out to a clear blue sky and trees adorned with bright red, orange and yellow leaves.  It’s autumn time in Tennessee.

I come from a place where everyone knows everybody else, much like Andy Griffith’s town of Mayberry.  There’s a total of maybe 4 red lights (one of which shouldn’t be operating, but that’s just my opinion) and a “downtown” consisting of a courthouse, post office and the corner ice cream/antique shop with a quaint barbershop next door complete with a barber pole on the side.  Imagine all that, plus three schools, a Hardee’s, Sonic and gas stations nestled inside rolling mountaintops guarded by a regional prison where my dad has worked for some 20 years now.  That’s where I come from:  Wartburg, Tennessee, a population that can fit inside Neyland Stadium with room for the rest of the county to spare.

The drive home Sunday showed me views I missed since moving to Knoxville.  Farms with old barns, junked-up cars (even an old camper, you know the ones, with a big “W” on the side) and the occasional sight of horses or cows made for perfect scenery.  With the car window rolled down driving on highway 62, I could smell the leaves blowing past my Ford Focus as I negotiated turns that weren’t made for the speed I was going at (It’s OK Mom, I do it all the time — I just wanted to get home to that homemade sourdough bread of yours).

Why I decided to go home Sunday only to drive an hour back to Knoxville I have no idea.  I suppose the simplicity of rural living called me back – in only a way homes can – to enjoy the changing of the seasons down by the river with friends, sharing warm kisses between sips of hot cocoa with Lance and watch the boys throw football under a canopy of gilded leaves.  Little treasures like that remind me that goodness does exist in a world of murders, theives and chaos.

I always enjoy stepping back into my warm childhood home after the brisk autumn air chills my skin.  There’s usually a warm, home-y aroma mixed with bread and cookies fresh from the oven and the promise of hot cider and wassail waiting to be enjoyed.  After reuniting with Fido and Nala after being months apart, Mom greets me with a warm hug and we make our way to the living room where the fireplace is warm, or the back porch where we can enjoy the weather, and simply catch up on our lives.

There’s a song that conveniently played on my iPod yesterday in the car, and I found it to be fitting.  It’s from a local band I’ve mentioned before, Christabel and the Jons.  It’s called, “Thankful.”  I’d say it was my theme yesterday…

“This is where I feel the most at home,
Rythym of the water, so nice and slow…”

“I’m thankful, so thankful, for my life..”

I drove past where my grandparents used to live before they passed away about ten years ago.  It hit me like a ton of bricks how much I missed them… my fondest memories of them are from this time of year and Christmas, when my grandma started cooking for an army of countless children, grand children and great grand children… Grandpa would always “test” the food… she would always get on to him for it… “Harold, get your finger outta that!” she’d say..  I remember she’d always sit in her rocking chair crocheting a doll or blanket for someone and watch The Price is Right (back when Bob Barker was the host.  It’s just not the same with Drew), Wheel of Fortune or during the day, Matlock.

You could always feel the love in their home.  It was small, but full of warmth – especially on those deep, cold winter nights.  My fondest memory I believe was when I was a small girl.  It was Christmas, and Wartburg’s Christmas parade was still something spectacular at my age.  That night was especially chilly, and I sat in Grandma and Grandpa’s old grey Ford to stay warm with Grandpa.  After the parade, we all went to their house (literally just across the woods from our house) for sweets and hot chocolate.  I don’t remember much except for what I told you just then, but I do remember everyone was happy.  I remember Grandpa laughing or at least smiling that big gummy grin of his (he had dentures but decided against wearing them — ever).  Grandma, of course, had a kitchen full of cookies, chocolate and treats I wouldn’t dare eat in one sitting today.  Everyone was there, and it was the perfect definition of family.

It was a tradition for a while with my immediate family after Grandma and Grandpa passed away to stay in an old, rustic cabin for a few days at Thanksgiving in the mountains somewhere.  Brandon and Steph were in school at Gardner-Webb University seeking their Masters of Divinity (they got it, by the way), so we always chose somewhere in Western North Carolina.  The first cabin we stayed in was tucked away somewhere in Black Mountain, North Carolina (I think) nearby Chimney Rock (again, I think it was Chimney Rock.  It was wherever they filmed Last of the Mohicans, I know that).  Unfortunately for me, I had tonselitis that year and didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I would’ve liked to… except for the fact that I thought I puked up my tonsils… but that’s another story.
Anyways, all six of us piled around a small kitchenette complete with a picnic-esque dining room table (I told you, this cabin was old and rustic) and shared Thanksgiving dinner that year.  The next morning, we awoke to snow flurries.  It was perfect.  There was just enough snow for a light 3/4 of an inch dusting, but not too much to worry about driving conditions.  We all took a walk through the woods among mountain laurel and a babbling brook that ran beside the cabin.

It was beautiful.

I hope to one day have the same kind of love and warmth that my family has had over the years.  It would only be right to carry on the family tradition.  It seems that not many families share that same love anymore, and that’s sad.  What the world needs now more than anything is love, sweet love.

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You only live once

Love. Life.

Embrace it. Make it yours. Grab it. Love it.

Take nothing or no one for granted. We are all in this together; no need to hurt each other.

Everyone has feelings.

Watch the sunset and stay up for the sunrise. Each day is a fresh start, a fresh beginning.

Experience things you otherwise would never experience.

Fly. Fly to the moon and back and live to tell about it.

Eat slowly. Savor each bite. There are people in the world that would die for what you’ve been blessed with.

Travel. Go places you’ve always wanted to go. Truly.. live… and enjoy it.

Grasp opportunity and never let go.

Dream big, or don’t dream at all.

Make your dreams realities…

Judge no one. Deep down, we’re all the same.

We all hurt.

We all suffer.

We all cry.

Most of all… we all LIVE.

“You only live once…”

Make the most of it. God gave us all one chance to live… don’t screw it up. Make the most of it.

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