Doesn't matter where you are,
Doesn't matter where you go
If it's a million miles away or just a mile up the road
Take it in, take it with you when you go
Who says you can't go home ...
(Bon Jovi and Sugarland)
The sun was high in sky, shining brilliantly. The air was crisp and cold and the roads were clear. With the Sirius satellite 70’s channel blaring out every sentimental song from my youth, I was set. I was heading home to the valley in which I was raised.
The valley is a complete contrast to the city that I have called home for thirty years. After an hour on the highway, tall buildings and shopping malls give way to open spaces, colourful barns in every state of disrepair, and quaint country farms. Take me home country roads was the soundtrack to the scenes rolling past my windshield - a reel of nostalgia – my nostrils filling with fresh air and farm life and my eyes brimming. Why? An emotional cocktail churning beyond my control. I was on autopilot and decided to roll with it.
I had the car to myself; on my way to spend a day or two with a relative who was going through the final days of her husband’s life alone. Her feeble voice wrung with anguish. I packed a light bag, kissed the dog (and hubby and Kidlet too) and hit the road. I seized this opportunity to soak in the scenery and talk a hike down memory lane.
Benzie (the Jeep) wove through quaint hamlets and villages, past fields of huddling cattle, tractors abandoned in snow filled fields, boarded up fresh vegetable stalls – and best of all – not a Walmart in sight! Where do these people shop?? I remembered that life in small rural communities is not about commerce, shopping and getting. It is about buying what you need, helping, visiting and socializing with your neighbours and friends. It’s about participating in the community and the simple community events, like the Santa Clause parade (featuring every kid in the town), the fall fairs and the winter carnivals. Everyone turns out for these reasons to celebrate.
Life was simpler then and less complicated – as were the times. I had a great childhood in a town that I loved – of course the beauty of which I did not fully appreciate until I moved away to the city. They say you can’t go back; you can go back but you can’t expect to find it unchanged. The store that we ran as a family is a mirage – invisible to all but me - bulldozed under a sprawling senior’s residence. Most of the people who were important to me have passed, or moved away. But the essence of the special place remains the same: the dark gray waters of the river still race by the length of the town; the rolling hills of trees and sparsely populated country rising across the river is a reminder that we are in a valley and the night sky still spills stars in all of their brilliant glory, undiluted by light pollution.
Take me home (just even for a moment)