Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sunshine Road

There's an old saying, "If you've forgotten the language of gratitude, you'll never be on speaking terms with happiness." I think that the holidays opens our eyes every year to the many blessings in our lives. We have a roof over our heads, food in the pantry and good health. Those are the Big Ones... or are they? Could you be happy if you didn't have a home, or you had to worry about where you next meal was coming from? What if you faced serious health issues, could you find gratitude anywhere in that?

On my way to town, I pass by Sunshine Road. Sounds like the perfect "Christmas Card Address," the kind that invokes memories of cozy homes with smoke curling out of the chimneys. In reality, it's one of the poorest parts of Benton County with small, ramshackle trailers. Many are without heat and running water. How could that be? Well, it just is. One of the residents of Sunshine Road rides with me to and from town occasionally. She walks, in the rain, in the cold, in the heat of summer to work at Wendy's. I'd say Mary is my age, she has a grandson the same age as mine that lives with her. She's always cheerful, carrying her backpack and sometimes loaded down with sacks of groceries. A smile on her face, she told me once with pride that she owns her trailer.

It's in our hearts where gratitude lives and grows. We either feed it daily or we let it die a slow, horrible death. Look around you this holiday season and you will see many opportunities to feed the gratitude in your heart and in the heart of others. 

I'm counting my blessings this morning, I bet you are too! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back Roads

September is here and it's a great time to get out and enjoy the cooler weather, autumn color and the quirky places that are down country roads no matter where you live. "The Pig Trail'... that's what the locals call the road that many use to go to and from Razorback games, is a breathtaking drive. Curvy roads twist and turn, around every bend the historic road passes waterfalls, rock formations and scenic mountain views! The Oark General Store sets off highway 215 in Johnson County waiting for customers to take a step back in time. Listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, the oldest store in Arkansas has been there since 1890. It serves the community with everything they might need as well as being a great place to get a bite to eat.

Sometimes you just have to turn off the main road and see where life takes you. You might just be missing out on a great place to fish or maybe a farmer who sells fresh eggs or extra veges from his garden. In Arkansas they still do that, you'll see a handmade sign nailed to a fence out front!

Daddy, his brother Walton and cousins Luster and Herman
(deer hunting season, 1949)

I inherited the love of backroads from my Dad. He knew every dirt road in Boone County and people all along those roads that he hunted with. It's almost deer season in Arkansas and hunters are getting out in the woods, placing their deer stand and feeders in anticipation of November opening day. It was my Dad's favorite time of the year and he looked forward to being in the "deer woods." There's a sereneness to the woods, just the sound of your footsteps. You are alone with your thoughts, it's a time to reflect on what's really important in your life. 

I love to take short cuts, the backroads that cut off miles or time to my trips. No matter where we have lived, I have found an easier path to the places I go most often. My trip to town now is mostly country. It takes 5-10 minutes tops to get into Rogers and then maybe another 5 minutes to the grocery store. If I go 2nd Street to Walnut there are six stoplights. If I go the back way...there is only one. I save time and gas. I like that way best!

When we lived in Springdale, it was twice that many lights if I went the path that all the other "rabbits" followed. But I didn't go that way. If I went down Silent Grove Road, by the old pump station I got to see a pretty little creek and the trees hung over the road like a lane in Merry Old England. I've never been to England, but I have seen pictures and they look just like the back way!

It won't be long and the leaves will begin their big show. The Sumacs first, turning a brilliant red. The Dogwoods follow suit shortly after, they already are covered with the red berries that will provide food for the birds and deer this winter. It's been so hot and dry, we don't really know how much color we'll see out of the oaks, maples and poplars. Normally, you can look across our mountain and see all shades of red, gold and orange. I have my fingers crossed that the recent rains will make a difference!

 No matter where you live, get the map out and plan some little day trips to the pretty parts of your state. Go down some country roads that you haven't traveled. The things you see and the people you meet add that something special that makes life interesting!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Loved Life And All Challenges

About the time I think I've told you everything that's stored in my memory bank,

I realize there's more! A trip back "home" to Springfield, Missouri yesterday was like walking down memory lane. 

It was filled with family and food,

really good Mexican food!

We drove by a million place where we've had coffee,

or spent nickles when I was a kid.

Places where I was spelling bee champion,

and places that inspired me to dream about what my life could be.

I walked these halls as a freshman feeling very small and unprepared for what life held for me. Yesterday when I stood in front of Central, somehow I felt 14 again. It was 1966, I had yet to meet the love of life, ahead of me was motherhood and travel, elation and despair, growth and loss.

I miss my brother. I miss talking to him on the phone and email. We never had the chance to text each other, he would have taken to that like a duck to water...he was like that!

He was the kind of person who loved to learn new things. He loved cool cars, pressed jeans and once he ate 8 hot dogs, one after the other!

Marble pyramid made by Hobert Sheldon Risley February 1960, age 13.

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