when i was a kid, my parents tended a garden out at a farm on the edge of town. my father was a pastor and a farmer in the church gave him some land to till each spring and summer. this sounded like a great idea. fresh fruit and vegetables. hands in the dirt. digging. tending. pruning. growing. the task was not as easy or as fruitful as one would hope.
none the less, we spent many evenings out in that garden.
i don't remember much about watering or any other type of care-giving that our family, together, gave to that plot of land. i was 6. maybe 7 after all. i do remember that there were beehives near by. i remember running from those bees and hiding in the rows of corn - as if bees wouldn't see me or find me there. but that's about it.
frankly, what i remember most about the garden - that overgrown piece of unfruitful land that us 'town-folk' had little success tending - was the trip to and from. we did not drive in the family station wagon. no, we rode our bikes. family exercise. family bonding. it was a bond alright. us kids were forced to do things against our will. we were fastened together and the rope was a general disdain for taking care of our plot of earth.
the trips out were fun. the trips back home, not so much. after an evening of 'bonding' while pulling weeds - you might imagine tense, exhausted nerves courtesy of my three older sisters. tired legs didn't help either. i don't know how many miles it was to the farm and my little legs never had to care. i sat in the child seat behind my dad. i never had to pedal. maybe that's what made the journey memorable for me. i soaked it up as i rested in back. no worries. care-free. i took it all in.
the sights, sounds and smells of that journey still ring true. i loved the part where we pedaled over the rail road tracks. on a good day an east bound freight train would whistle by. the fresh smell of roses as we rode past Mrs. Durfey's house was an added bonus as well. then there'd be that random chicken you'd find wandering in the middle of that old county road that led to the farm. "what would happen when it got to the other side", i'd wonder aloud. one time a pick up truck rushed by - said chicken didn't make it across. you know that expression 'running around with a chicken with its head cut off'? as a 6 or 7 year old, i understood that first hand.
the summer sun would be fading into the distance. cool breezes would flow across the terrain. waves of green and gold from one side of the road to the other were part of the larger canvas with a line of trees in-full-bloom, towering above and beyond. it was generally quiet. this was rural central Ohio. there was nothing much but farm land with houses and small communities sprinkled about.
each evening we had a destination. to take care of the garden. to make things grow. each evening we completed a journey, to and fro.
but there was something special about the journeys. special enough that i remember them vividly. Maxwell's farm with dairy cattle on the hill side. The Whetstone creek trickling by. Kids hunting for crawdads along its banks. the simplicity of that small town and large countryside. not much happening - except for the ritual of the journey.
the ritual of the journey is so much a part of who we are as humans. we are constantly in motion. from one place to another. what meaning do we find in the journey? what purpose does the journey hold? how vivid are the journey's of life? if even the simplest of journeys are forgotten - then what else might we be missing?
stop. think back. remember your journeys. what value do you find there?
that daily trip to the country - where i was a mere passenger on the back my dad's bicycle - allowed me to soak it up - to see it all; smell it all; feel it all. i was a part of the journey and i dared not miss a thing.
i still remember those summer sunsets on that old country road...