Sunday, June 23, 2013

Where Time Stands Still

Each morning this school year I drove my granddaughter to her bus stop.  Our route took us down the "once rural" highway where I lived as a child.  Progress has transformed my hometown -- we pass several big box stores where a dairy farm once thrived.  A new strip mall has taken the place of the old bar/restaurant that was our teen hangout.  A huge new gas station, complete with a Dunkin Donuts Drive-Thru stands at the corner where a quaint old post office/country store/gas station used to sit.  Down the road a bit, there is a huge car wash, built on the site of the vegetable farm that once supplied our fresh veggies all summer.  What was once a peaceful drive is now a hodge-podge of chain stores, fast-food restaurants, mini-malls and gas stations. 
But then, just as you pass a large storage rental facility, at a curve in the road you see a tiny little white building next to a well-kept old Cape Cod style house.  This little building, not much larger than many of today's garden sheds, was our local gas station when I was a girl.   If I remember correctly, there were two gas pumps.  The owner spent his days there, pumping gas, checking oil, washing windshields, and passing on bits of gossip that were shared with him.  He had a lovely wife and three beautiful daughters who grew up in the adjacent house. 
I lived across the street from this gas station; of course, it seemed much larger to me then, from the perspective of childhood.  Obviously, as small as it was, it provided an ample income for their family.  The house was one of the prettiest in our neighborhood, and his daughters were always well-dressed.  I remember envying them. 
I'm thankful that this little building still stands.  It reminds me of happier times -- times when a man could earn an honest living running a small business, times when two gas pumps were adequate to serve his customers, times when huge corporations didn't control the world.
This drive each morning down the highway of my childhood has been a sad one for me -- my precious little rural community has been spoiled by the ugliness of progress with poor planning.  But, as I reach that curve in the road and gaze on this tiny white building, I remember how beautiful it all used to be -- the houses, the farms, the open fields -- rural America at its best. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Peaceful Spirit

I sit here quietly tonight, listening to the comforting sound of falling rain -- a rain that is washing away the uncomfortable heat and humidity of the last few days.  A cool breeze gently blows the lace curtains, and I think back over my busy Sunday to the peaceful moments that rested my tired spirit.  As I dressed this morning, my mind filled with a "to-do list", I walked past my library nook and was drawn to the sight of the bright morning sunshine filtering through my soft linen blouse which hung over the back of the chair.  How lovely it looked -- I grabbed my camera and captured the loveliness.

It amazes me how the most simple moments can bring such a feeling of peace.  I finished dressing and went downstairs to prepare a salad for an afternoon barbecue.  While the macaroni cooked and the eggs boiled, I diced an onion, brought chives, parsley and dill in from the garden and snipped them, and chopped the cooked shrimp.  My IPod was playing the country music I love so much, as I mixed everything together in a large bowl with mayonnaise.  I prepared a marinade for the steak and placed that into the fridge.  With a sense of relief -- a job well done -- I headed out to the garden to water the vegetable plants, feed the birds, and enjoy the serenity of my shady yard. 
As I walked out the door, my eyes were drawn to my newly blooming rosebushes along the fence.  Roses are favorites of mine, and the sight of these pink buds and blossoms, with their deep rose scent seemed like a reward for enduring the oppressive heat and humidity of the past week.  June always brings roses and peonies -- is it any wonder June has been immortalized by poets?  The birds were gathered at the feeder, hungrily devouring the few remaining seeds, as I headed out with their food.  On the way back from the feeder I stopped at my little pond to see if any frogs have taken up residence this year.
This pond is a peaceful little oasis of trickling water and graceful ferns.  This year in particular, the ferns are lush and full, providing a perfect blend of water and shelter for the birds, chipmunks and squirrels that drink from it each day.  How I love to sit near it and listen to the peaceful water and watch the chipmunks scamper in and out of the ferns.
I finished my work outside -- watering plants and filling my bird baths with fresh water.  Then I went back inside for a short rest before barbecue time.  A sense of peace lingered in my heart -- there is so much beauty surrounding us each day of our lives.  Sometimes this beauty is so quiet it gets lost in our tumultuous world -- we must search it out and savor it, because these little moments of beauty can be summoned again and again to bring us a measure of peace on our busiest and most stressful days.  A peaceful spirit is truly a gift --