Early Summer mornings were mine. Looking back, my family’s acreage was modest but charming. A hat-tip to childlike innocence, though. To my way of thinking back then it was expansive and idyllic, just like the hot days and cool nights of Northern Michigan.
My Dad, a pharmacist and my Mother, an artist-turned-shopkeeper, owned a pharmacy and gift shop in town. When we were not pulled into the rigors of a family business, we were all about life on 30 acres of woodsy countryside, and the lake nearby.
There was so much to discover and explore, and my favorite time was just after sunrise. The morning glories and hollyhocks would nod their greetings as I would venture out in my sleep clothes, ever curious what the new day held. Time would hold its breath while I picked lilacs and bury my face in their heady scent. Lilies of the valley and violets would poke their noses out from the beds along the edge of the house. There was always an abundance of beauty, if you watched for it.
Situated at the corner of the mowed grass, just before the stand of stately pine trees, was an old apple tree. It was perfect in every way; it’s long, low branches beckoned me to climb. My doll would join me at times. Oft’ recovering from her countless concussions from being waggled through my girly-girl-gone-tomboy-and-back-again existence, she was a quiet friend. I’m not sure she could get a word in edgewise anyway.
A rural life fostered creativity. The raw materials were so plentiful – whether berries or flowers, antique tools or something as simple hay baling twine – inquisitiveness was constant, the mystery of, “What’s next?” And what child would not be enthralled with an old phonograph, complete with records? Perhaps it belonged to my Dad’s grandparents. Nevertheless, we would wind it and listen to old music and climb the rafters of the old barn.
Of course we had horses. Some of us were more involved than others, with their livelihood. (And, by involved, I do mean hauling water from the house to the barn in the dead of winter.) There were the loads of hay that we hauled into the barn. Bales. I doubt I was 10 yet but I could hold my own. Once the hay was in, though, we had great fun making forts in the barn and being everywhere that our curiosity took us.
John Denver’s song, On The Road so aptly depicts our lives, however simple yet magical:
We were just on the road
Then my Daddy read a sign and took us in the wrong direction
I asked my Daddy where are we goin’, he said we’ll just follow
Our nose, so I looked out the window and dreamed I was a cowboy
We were just on the road
Then the Mercury was ready to go and I had to leave her
While we didn’t push an old V8 anywhere, we most definitely followed our nose in car rides deep into the woods where we’d stop to pick berries, or watch the elk.
Nowadays, few mornings go by, that I do not sit outside and watch the sun come up. Even in wintertime, I’ll step out for a minute, fend off the drifts and catch a breath of winter-y silence. It doesn’t matter where we find ourselves, our lives are replete with the ingredients to live a bountiful existence. It’s about being enchanted by the simple things, the old phonograph, a fort in the hay barn, or the violets at the edge of the house.