Photo of Sica Hollow by Kelly Ladner
This week Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose asked, "If you had 24 hours to be anywhere... and had no other obligations or responsibilities... where would you like to wander?
I thought about it for a bit, then my heart provided the answer... I would go home.
It has been almost three years now since last I set foot in South Dakota, the place where my heart calls home. That was at the beginning of a bitter cold January, and it was anything but fun, as I was there for my father's funeral. Other than that trip, I have travelled to South Dakota only sporadically in the thirty-five years since I last lived there.
I made it home to visit a few times when my Mom was still alive, on the rare occasions when money permitted, and I spent a few treasured weeks with the kids I love at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation. But it feels like it's been forever since I went home just to be home. A strange thing happens when I cross the invisible border into South Dakota, I always find myself crying... clearly, my heart knows it's home. Perhaps we are all connected in someway to the place of our birth or where we spent our growing-up years.
If I had just twenty-four hours to wander in South Dakota, I would walk the streets of the town where I was raised, to see what familiar buildings still remain there and what has changed. I would go to the park and see if by any chance the big tree that offered me shelter and comfort still stands. I would drive by the house where we lived and remember the stories that took place within those walls.
Then I would travel to the nearby lakes where my Dad and I spent many peaceful hours fishing, and where we later had a small cabin that was a wonderful summer retreat for my sisters and I. I would stand on the shore, get my feet wet at the edge, and remember the times I paddled those waters in my red canoe.
Since it is now Autumn, a trip to Sica Hollow just thirty-five miles to the North would be imperative - a beautiful small hollow carved out by nature, abundant with flora and fauna, streams waterfalls and walking trails, trees ablaze with the colors of Fall, a place shrouded in mystery, replete with tales of spirits from the native Sioux who proclaimed it "sica" (pronounced she-cha) meaning evil or bad.
No trip home would be complete without a drive down country roads past fields now harvested of their crops, and surely my father, watching from above, would cause a pheasant or two to fly upward from among the stalks, reminding me of the times he and I traveled those backroads during hunting season, him in pursuit of delicious fowl dinners, me eager for the beautiful colored feathers that would be my prize.
Those days are gone now, and at times I wonder if I will ever find myself in Dakota again, until it one day becomes the final resting place for my ashes. Still, on an Autumn morning such as this one, I can close my eyes, sniff the cool damp air, and visit home in my memories, remembering the places and faces of long, long ago.
Linking up with Brenda at Pondering With A Purpose.