"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Sunday, January 27, 2019

She Saw The Mountains

The sky was a clear and brilliant blue; the January sun sparkled on the lingering snow. The mountains, cloaked in a cover of white, stood strongly, miles beyond the prairie that I so love. They stand surrounding the prairie like the walls of a protective fortress. My husband and I drove without conversation, only listening to Ronnie Dunn on the radio. It wasn't the influence of his lyrics that impacted my reflection today, though I am sure they contributed in part. Unexpectedly, quiet tears began to fall down my face.

I had driven this drive many, many times over the years. My love of the prairie goes to the deepest recesses of my youth with memories that are always ready to come to the surface, should I allow them.

Today, those memories were of my mama. It was without fail that she commented on this very same scene every single time we drove it. "Look at those mountains!" she would exclaim without fail. "Oh, those mountains are so beautiful, today."

She loved the mountains. She was a North Idaho girl from birth. She was raised in the majestic beauty of the North Country. Never did it leave her soul.

"Yes, but look at the prairie!" I would answer. I loved the expanse of it, the blue grass (or whatever it was in later years that might be growing) which seemed to spread for miles before reaching the base of any of our mountains. The scent of mint, or freshly cut hay; the swish, swish, swish of irrigation sprinklers as crops were watered in summertime. It was all of those things that simply exaggerated my emotions,  heightened by all of my 5 senses, every time I passed this way.

But today, I remembered Mama. I could see her in my mind, riding shotgun next to me as I drove - to town, to doctor appointment; to coffee or lunch - wherever it was, we might be going. I could hear her soft, gentle voice, as she commented on the mountain view that she loved. Soft, yet pleased; always ready to enjoy whatever moment it was that she was then experiencing.

I have thought of these moments many times over the years and smiled at our differing point of reference. It was the exact same scene, but viewed through a different lens, a different heart. And yet, somehow it was the same. She saw the mountains, I saw the prairie. But yet it was the exact same landscape. What was different was the focal point of our attention; what was the same, was a panorama of beauty bringing the joy of creation, and appreciation of the area in which we live. Same view, different perspective. Truly, one is enhanced by the splendor of the other. Seems like there might be a lesson in that.
But today, things were just a bit different for me, thus the tears. Today, I realized that perhaps just enjoying the moment, (which I am guilty of not doing well enough) is something I should do more of - just like Mama. In this moment, I was missing every part of who she was.
And in all of that, on this day, it was very, very important for me to simply see the mountains.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Things That Call Us Home

Christmas was a bit different for us this year. It wasn't bad; quite the contrary. It turned out to be extremely special, but it was different. It was the kids' turn to go to the other set of parents this year, so this would be my first Christmas without Matt. With both my folks being gone now, truthfully, I wanted something different. I wanted solitude. I'm not sure why, but in retrospect, it was more than that. It actually seemed like I was being called "home".  

Maybe it was just that the Lord knew that was where my heart was this year. I don't know. But we went "home". And it was a series of God Winks that made the day very, very special.

Bonners had never been the home where I had actually lived. But my Mom always called it "home" while my siblings and I were growing up, so in my heart that is the place that most feels like home to me. A sense of roots, I guess. It was wear she grew up. And it's a place where I only have happy memories. Truthfully, I can't think of a bad recollection there. I am not going to try too hard, because I have made a storybook of memories in my mind, that I do not want to invade or encroach with something anything less than positive.

In some ways, our visit was planned; in some ways, it was purely happenstance. We fed both sets of animals and while on the last set, I told my husband..."Let's go to Bonners in time to hear the noon whistle."

"Ok, well we better get going, then". Not even a second thought from him. That was the first God Wink among many that would take place on this day.

So I quickly showered and dressed - excited for the day. He was ready before me and waiting patiently, having all necessary errands completed.

"Should I take the Poinsettia?" I asked him. Several day ago, we had bought a beautiful two shaded Poinsettia to take to my parents grave in the event we were able to go around Christmas. "It will probably just go to waste," my practical side suddenly appeared. "I hadn't thought about it, but it will probably freeze the first night."

"Yes, it will. But whatever you want to do." More agreement - Yikes!

I left the Poinsettia on the table, but we weren't far down the road when I regretted it. "Maybe if Super One is open we will stop and see if there is a wreathe or something there."

 "They'll be open. They always are," he amicably responded.
The drive up was beautiful. The sky mostly blue and the trees snow covered. There were only a few snow flurries from time to time. Just enough to make it feel like Christmas and the road only snow covered in a few places. I had worried a bit about the weather and the roads. "You know," I reminisced aloud, "I don't think I ever remember my folks considering the weather or roads. Back then, we just went."

I probably wouldn't have driven myself, but my husband had been a professional driver for years. I didn't need to worry about his capability to get us there and back safely.

Another thought came to me. This was probably the first time I had been north on Christmas in probably 40 or more years. It felt like we were entering a Winter Wonderland. A Christmas card view at every turn. It was all cathartic, and restful with unexpected joy.
I realized we would be pushing it to make it in time for the noon whistle. But I really wanted to stop and look for a wreathe or something to bring to my parents' graves. I could ask my husband to go down to listen to the whistle first and come back up the hill to the store after we spent some time downtown. But I really didn't want to take advantage of his good nature thus far.

Super One looked deserted, we pulled in anyway. I got out to read the sign in order to be certain. "Closed Christmas day." Oh well nothing could dampen my spirits today.  I jumped into the car, and a1/4 mile later, I exclaimed, "Oh, look Safeway is open! Turn in!"

"Just let me out at the door. I think I have time to grab something and still make it in time for the whistle." I ran (yes, literally) down to the floral section and my eye landed on the cutest little, most perfect little Christmas tree anywhere complete with a weather-worthy Christmas North Star. 50% off! Wink, right back at Ya, dear God! Thank you!

"50% off," I explained to my husband as I got in the car. But he seemed as excited about the little tree as I was. I read the little tag." Bring inside when temps get lower than 15 degrees." The little tree would be just fine....maybe a deer snack...but it wasn't going to freeze, tonight or even this week.

"We still have 6 minutes! Drive down Main Street and park in front of the little park. I want to sit on the bench and listen and take it all in." I suggested/ordered/pleaded. lol

He obliged without hesitation.

The street was empty, of course, but the little park was festively decorated and I had time to snap a few pictures. Suddenly I stopped...there it was. What is it about that whistle?! It literally brought tears to my eyes. I hit record on my camera and caught it from beginning to end. "Grandma, it's noon!" And I am here for Christmas once again.

Thankful my husband pretended not to see my tears, I lingered just a bit longer before saying "Let's go up to the cemetery now."

"Here kitty, kitty, kitty!" There was a deer in the famous spot today. She looked up at us, but showed no fear. "You don't have to stop." I didn't want to worry about the car getting started again on the snowy hill, but actually the height had never seemed so minimal. Why did I always think this was so steep? I wondered to myself.

All the gates were open, the road plowed. We took our time - took photos and enjoyed the views. My husband wiped off the headstone and we placed the hearty little pine tree there. Against the pure, white snow, the stone never looked so blue and I was so thankful we had chosen that color of stone. Truly beautiful and fitting. We wandered a bit, snapped more photos and enjoyed the beautiful, peaceful setting.

"I'm starved! Let's eat!"

 There was room for us at "The Inn" as it has come to be known to locals. "Where would you like to sit" the hostess asked us. "Oh we get to choose? By the window, please!" Mama and Daddy would have loved this. We got the best seat in the house.
"What can I bring you to drink?" she asked us.

 "Myrtle Creek! And coffee!" Aahhhh, Myrtle Creek.

There were only 3 things on the menu - all traditional for Christmas. But that was perfectly ok. Because that is what we wanted  - a traditional Christmas dinner. My husband chose the turkey and ham, but I simply wanted the ham. We both ignored the prime rib...for another time. Both dinners came complete with all the trimmings. It was delicious.

One more God Wink before I end. And I might love this one the best...So funny, soooooo God.

I had felt somewhat guilty and sorry for the people that had to work Christmas Day. I had remembered my paternal grandpa who would not ever shop on Sunday or a holiday, because he would then be contributing to the fact that he was a part of making these people work on the Sabbath. I have always been way more lax about shopping on Sundays. Never giving it much thought, even having to work that day myself. God's grace is bigger than that, (Grandpa knew that well) but I understand and respect my Grandpa's convictions. Truth is, I really did not want to think about making someone work on Christmas, either. People should be home with their families.

When our waitress brought our meal I was surprised to hear my husband apologizing that she had to work on Christmas Day.

"Oh, I don't mind," she laughed. "I'm Jewish! And I already celebrated Hannukah a few days ago." And I could not help but laugh with her, and acknowledge a bit of a G-d Wink. This one Jewish. ;-)

The service could NOT have been better or the day more perfect.

"I hope I am not going to die." I jokingly said to my husband. "I can't imagine why He did this for me. Everything just fell into place."

We finished our meal, but took our time. We enjoyed the view and some pumpkin pie and I reminisced Christmases and summers and family and love.

After we left The Inn, we drove through the old fashioned little town again, and went up on the dike road to look at the river. "How high's the water, Mama?" I took a few more photos, before getting back into the car to drive down the road to Grandma and Grandpa's. It doesn't look the same of course, but it was the action of it I needed to do.

We circled back under the little railroad bridge and I told my husband the day was perfect, we could head back in order to be home before dark. It was but a few hours we spent, all wrapped up was the gift of a life time and the things that call us home.