Snow fell quietly overnight coating the country with a mystical blanket of sparkles. In the morning I ventured out (slightly – it was bitter cold!) to take photos. In the city when it snowed overnight all I heard were the scrappers on the road in front of my home. In the country I heard nothing! The usual snow piles of dirty snow scraped into parking lots and side streets were nowhere to be found. Instead I was greeted with unblemished sheets of white sparkling in the rising sunlight. So beautiful, so peaceful and quiet, and then a strange thing happened, a neighbor plowed through our drive with his small tractor blade thingy. There are so many differences between city dwellers and country folks.
Moving here after the divorce was one of the smartest moves I’ve made in a long time. I was worried about the holidays approaching though. For the past 34 years I’ve spent holidays with his side of the family (because mine is so far away) and believe it or not I was kind of missing the usual family day. It is what you do for so long it becomes the norm. I thought about them having the holidays and talking about me the entire time (no, I’m not sure if that’s good or not).
My fears were quickly erased and any tangs of memories replaced with the invasion of Cheryl’s grandchildren. They arrived in the morning bringing excitement and anticipation, not for the snow that fell overnight but for the wrapped packages under the tree. I was thrilled to see them and very grateful that I was invited to share their Christmas excitement. There is little else that compares to the joy of watching children tear into their gifts. The youngest, a 5-year-old boy named Rebel, brought me a present of his old Garfield stuffed animal. I was quite touched when he explained that I didn’t have a stuffed animal to sleep with. Children are priceless in their ability to recognize the heart of the matter.
That night I pulled out my boxes of family photos in an effort to feel a bigger part of life’s plan. I’ve found that when I am suffering a loss it’s important to remember who I am and where I came from; to keep that family connection (especially when they are a thousand miles away). I have three brothers who live on the East Coast and plenty of nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces all growing up without the aid of my wisdom and experiences (lucky kids). When the divorce happened I thought about moving back to the East Coast, but it’s been too long. The area is now so overgrown with traffic, buildings and people on top of people that I am no longer comfortable in that setting.
Instead I decided to stay here in Kansas. I love my family. I wish they lived here, but they don’t and I had to make that decision to stay where I felt grounded. The beauty of this land carries me forward each day with hope of a promising tomorrow.
I find strength in friends who believe in me even when I doubt. I’ve also started setting short term goals. Its true what they say; don’t try to plan out five years in advance when you are starting over from scratch. Just worry about today. Every morning Cheryl asks me, “So what are your plans today?” It makes me smile because that’s exactly how I think about it – just today.
I’m working on putting my short stories into e-books entitled, "Rural Route Reader." I’ll let you know as soon as I have one ready for sale on Amazon.com.
Some days I just drive and take photos of the landscape and the farms. Sunsets are so gorgeous, especially with a windmill in the background. It is almost like being on a sabbatical where I am learning to take care of myself and my retreat is here in the country where snow lies without disturbance and families share their hearts.
I know how to count my blessings instead of my losses. Remember the movie, "White Christmas"? Sure you do, everyone does. The scene where Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney meet in the inn for a late sandwich and they sing a song about counting your blessings instead of sheep; I’ve found that to be true my entire life, even when the blessings were low, I kept counting.
When you are starting over, after a divorce, a death, whatever has happened to you in life, counting your blessings instead of dwelling on the depressing truth can really keep you going. It has for me. Blessing No. 1 is having friends like Cheryl and Mitch, who selflessly give to a lost sheep like me. Blessing No. 2 is moving to this beautiful country life where I can be calm, peaceful and explore new adventures.
I feel like I’m growing up all over again, learning new ways to survive and find myself in the crumpled mess that was once my life.
My garden goose is waiting for spring!