We left Arkansas for Tennessee and Alabama – my home places, and on the way out of the driveway I noticed the purple tops of clover and how the vines suckle up a honeyed canopy in the cypress. I took a long deep breath and said goodbye to our green tomatoes and all nine frogs my oldest son had just released. We had worked hard to get loaded up, and then finally we could take off on our long drive.
How long had it been that I stopped all the work work work and propped my feet up on a sunny dashboard?
I woke the next morning in Tennessee and ran out of my bed to greet my aunt who is different now from cancer. We hugged long on the couch, and before the coffee, we whispered I love you. I held on to it. I looked down at our hands together, how the same we are. My closest cousin woke, and we all drank fresh juice, bright as carrot and beet.
We picked a fence row of blackberries and picked seeds from our teeth the whole way to Alabama. We saw how the roadsides have changed. We stopped to play with the baby, and we spread peanut butter on Amish bread with a pocket knife. They asked us, “How long till we get there?”
But I’ve learned by now, even with my four boys whining in the back and with my van smelling like wet mammals and stale bread, the fun isn’t when we get there.
We’re already there. We’re already singing our best songs. We’re already looking in the rearview mirror at the one holding a teddy bear. Seth already holds my hand tightly. We can’t believe our eyes.
Mama and Daddy met us in the driveway. They took off work early. Five-gallon buckets sat in the kitchen floor. He wants us to take as many squash and zucchini home as we can fit with us. Tomorrow he’ll bushhog the potatoes, and we’ll all fill more buckets, and then we’ll get the worms from the refrigerator and go fishing.
When I was young I couldn’t wait to get away from this lifestyle. I always thought there had to be more to life. I never thought I would long for my fingers in the dirt and my hair wet with lake water. I never thought that the greatest thing would be to hear the quiet, my thoughts actually ordering themselves while my feet crunched through gravel on my way to the barn. What pleasure it is to see my daddy work a hobby farm, all the things there are to fix.
I write it out to remember the smell of the driveway and the drive, the morning air with hornets buzzing behind the dew berry bushes. We all have to stop once in a while to gather up these good summer days, no matter how sometimes our hearts can ache. Look around. We are blessed here, even just with this breath.
Tell me where it is you like to go to take a deep breath? Sometimes in my kitchen, fruit stacks in a bowl, and it’s so colorful while the sun goes down. Where are the places you look around and remember how loved you are?
written by Amber Haines