One Night in the Woods

This week's Sunday Scribblings writing prompt is "woods".  I offer you "One Night in the Woods... A Story from the Road."

Long ago when life was simpler and love was free - or so they said,  a young woman stood by the side of the road, dressed in the standard uniform of the day, a pair of patched and faded blue jeans and a jacket edged with fringe.  Arm extended, thumb upwards, long hair flying in the wind, she waited for a ride that would move her further toward her destination, a place in Minnesota she was calling home, though it wasn't really her home, just a place she was crashing for the time being until life led her elsewhere.

It was a warm summer afternoon in Minnesota as the sunlight danced off her copper-colored hair.  Her last ride had dropped her off a short way back when the road he was taking headed in another direction.  She didn't have to wait long before a bright yellow VW Beetle pulled over to offer her a lift.  Music from the radio blasted from the open windows,  the smile on the face of the handsome young man with a mop of curly hair was friendly and welcoming.  She tossed her backpack into the rear seat of his car and hopped in without giving it a second thought.  Hitchhiking had become second nature to her, an adventure, a chance for a fun encounter.  It was a common mode of transportation for young people of that time.

Conversation flowed between driver and passenger.  She learned that his name was Shmuel - the Hebrew equivalent of Samuel, and that he was a college student enroute from California to New York, and then on to Israel for a year.  They talked of school and music, of family and friends, and where life had taken them thus far.

A few hours later the sun began to set, and Shmuel tentatively suggested that she join him for a night of camping in in the wooded area of a nearby state park.  He had been camping his way across the country, a tent and all necessities compactly stowed in the storage compartment of the little Bug.

Being in no particular hurry to arrive at her destination, and fascinated by the young man who was now her travelling companion, she accepted the invitation and soon they had set up camp in a lovely secluded spot among the trees.  A nearby stream provided water for washing and cooking, and in no time at all Shmuel had prepared a campfire feast, while teaching his new friend the basic fundamentals of keeping kosher, a concept new to a girl raised in the rural Midwest. 

Snuggled next to each other near the campfire as the evening grew dark and the air chilled, they talked late into the night of Judaism and Christianity, of faith and followers, of what is inherited and what is chosen.  The moon was high overhead casting long shadows thru the trees when their eyes finally grew heavy and conversation tapered off. They settled into sleeping bags zipped together, safely inside the confines of the small tent, and before long both were fast asleep.

The girl awoke to the bright light of morning and the smell of  breakfast cooking on the open fire. Shmuel had risen quietly before her to prepare a meal for them to share before returning to their journey.  She thought that nothing else could taste as good as food cooked over a fire, sharing laughter and conversation and the pure pleasure of being in such beautiful surroundings.

She washed their dishes in water drawn from the stream while he packed up the tent and camping gear, and they took photographs of each other on his camera while standing beneath the towering trees. Then it was time to go, and as quietly as they had arrived they slipped away from that magic moment and returned to the highway, and before too much further, to their own separate roadways and lives. 

The girl thought of him now and then thru the years, wondering what life had brought to the handsome Jewish boy she had encountered on the road, and she hoped that it had treated him well.  She smiled in remembrance of that night spent together in the woods of Minnesota, thankful for the brief encounter and the friendship they had shared.

Home Is...

On Thursday (July 7th) my lovely friend JL at Dodge Writes crafted an intensely moving poem based on the theme "Home is where they love you".  She offered these words as a writing prompt for us to share.  Here is what I have to say...

If we think of home as the place where you grew up, then I have no home to return to. My parents have both passed over to the spirit world now.  The last home they owned has long since been sold to another family.  It wasn't the house I grew up in anyway, so what drew me there for the rare visits I could afford to make from such a distance, was that they lived there, and the house was filled with things I remembered from my childhood which still made it feel somewhat like home. 

The saddest part of closing out my father's apartment just a little over a year ago was the final disbursement of not the big things but the small ones that spelled home... mom's cookie jar, dad's tackle box (which my husband now has), doilies on the dressers (which are in my keeping now) nicnacs, books, record albums, linens, kitchenware and the like, which had been a part of our family for years and years.  The hutch in my dining area is filled with my mother's set of Desert Rose dishes.  I rarely use them, opting for the simple, easy care Corelle ones in the cupboard, but they remind me of all the meals we ate together as a family using those dishes, and how my mother scrimped and saved to add each piece to her collection.  I didn't care much for them back then, they are beautiful to me now, with my older eyes and older perspective.  In reality, my growing up years don't hold a lot of fond memories, there was a lot of sadness and misunderstanding in that house too.  I often felt like I didn't really belong there.

So is that what home means then?  When someone asks me "where is your home", I am quick to respond "South Dakota", as that's where I was born and raised.  It isn't the geographical boundaries that are meaningful to me, it's that my heart is tied to the land there, the rolling farm hills, lakes and trees of my youth. I am a child of the prairie, a "flatlander" as some call it. Mountains and seashores are beautiful to me, but foreign.  When I return to Dakota and cross the river marking the boundaries to "home" tears always make their way down my face.  I know that it is where I come from.

Since then I've had many homes in many places, in fact I've done so much moving in the last 30 years that it would take a separate post to list them all.  Sadly, not many of those places really felt like home to me, because there was always so much confusion and sadness that I never really felt loved or like I belonged.  Of course I have many good memories of my children growing up and the life we shared together, but there was always that "elephant in the living room" - the spouse who often made life miserable. I rarely felt at peace.  So no... I don't really call those places "home".  More acccurately, they were stopovers on the road to hell.

Finally, almost five years ago, I decided to do something about that, to reclaim my life.  Many of  you know that story.  In short, I left my third husband and thirteen years of a nightmare marriage, left our home in the country, and moved into an apartment on my own.  Finally I had a place to call home, a place that felt welcoming to me, although very lonely.  Deep down I knew that this was also to be just a stopping place, and that somehow by the grace of God, I would be moving on with my life. 

Little did I know that God had the most awesome plan for my life! One year after moving out on my own I met John on the Internet and the rest is history... beautiful history that makes me smile just to recall the magic of those first days and weeks shared! 

We live on a small piece of land in the country now, in a simple manufactured home that we have redone to suit our tastes and needs, a house filled with sunlight and a rainbow of colors, a house shared with five beloved furry felines, surrounded by miles of dry pastureland and no noisy neighbors.  This is a place of peace, warmth, laughter, understanding and acceptance, and above all LOVE -  amazing love!  I had no idea  just how good love could be, though I used to long for it.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am loved and appreciated and accepted just as I am - flaws and all. I love and treasure my husband even more - if that is possible. 

I am truly and at long last really home now, and life is good. Home isn't about where you come from or where you are... it's about where you are loved, and this is where I belong!

Six Word Saturday - July 9

Here's what I have to say for Six Word Saturday this week...

Saturday means more time for blogging!

I don't have to work this Saturday (though I do next week), so at nearly 3pm in the afternoon you can find me still sitting here in my kaftan, hair uncombed, brunch consisting of  iced tea and a stale cinnamon roll, in an absolutely quiet house surrounded by napping furkids, and doing what I love best... blogging! I'm not sure if I enjoy reading/commenting more or writing my own posts more.  It is rare that I have time for both as I will today.  John is at work, and has an evening function to attend, so I have a bit more alone time than usual and I intend to put it to good use.  Well, not good use like tackling the laundry or floors, though I may manage a bit of that too, but good use like sitting down to share company with my fellow bloggers! There is truly nothing I enjoy more. 

My greatest fantasy in life would be all the free time I wanted to read and write without limitation or the need to attend to any daily responsibilities... hey, a girl can dream! I seriously don't think I would ever get tired of it.  Maybe a deserted island with reliable satellite-fed Internet, an indestructible laptop, a few furkids, my devoted spouse to catch me something to eat now and then, that would be the life!  Would I still be able to come up with things to write about?  I'm pretty sure I would... at least I'd like to give it a try!   My list of blog post topics is about as large as my collection of craft project materials and instruction books.  If I have to complete all of them before I die, I might just live forever! :-)

I hope you all are enjoying your Saturday too.  Perhaps I should go wash my face and comb my hair now, before my husband comes home to change for his meeting - at least make a pretense of being active, even though he knows better and will just roll his eyes and smile. I am so blessed that he is a patient man who understands my need to play here, and how it feeds my soul!

Celebrate Freedom!

Happy 4th of July!  (We rarely hear it referred to as Independence Day anymore, and I shudder to think about how many students probably couldn't tell you what the significance of the date is.)  Celebrate we do... a day off work... a day of picnics, parties, trips to the beach, and fireworks at night, but what are we celebrating? We are celebrating FREEDOM... and what a precious gift it is! 

As a blogger, one of the freedoms I cherish most is the freedom of expression... to say and to write... and to share with the world via the Internet... pretty much anything I want. Can we even begin to imagine what it would like to live in a country where freedom of expression is repressed, and in some cases punished by imprisonment, torture and even death?  I am outspoken... I say what I'm thinking (sometimes wisely, sometimes not so much), I don't think I would last long in a place where free thinking and open sharing of opinions and ideas was censored or not allowed.

Another wonderful freedom that goes hand in hand with the freedom of expression is the freedom of religion... to believe, practice our beliefs, and worship in any way we choose, or not at all if that is our choice.  There is no "national religion or church" that we must all conform to.  There are places in the world where professing a belief in anything but the state approved religion is punishable by death.  Would we be willing to die for what we believe?  Would I be willing to put my children at risk by teaching them something that was forbidden? I am ever so grateful that I live in a country where I am free to believe, and to express those beliefs without fear.

I could go on, listing freedom after freedom that we are blessed with as Americans.  Those freedoms were hard fought for, let's never forget how they came to be!  What freedoms are most precious to you? 

While you're out there celebrating today, please don't overdo it with the alcohol and such.  Be safe and sane! Remember that your freedom ends where it infringes on the rights and well being of others!