July 1st, 2013
Last night as I drove home, the sky turned from gray to pink and the fireflies came out. I zoomed along the dusky curves of the country roads, and watched with a knot in my throat as I saw them multiply, lighting and lighting, a low, hovering starry sky over the soybean fields. Prone to hyperbole my thought was this: how could anything be more beautiful?
This place is a broken record. But it's a repetition of the things I love, and I consider that a worthy litany. Baseball. Fireflies. Corn-on-the-cob. All of the things I missed from my youth and now have present in my every day.
There are even things I can't remember from growing up here that hold a special new reality for me in my life. In particular: the tigerlillies. At the end of June and beginning of July, they line the highways, their orange heads bobbing in the wind of passing semis. They burst forth near every mailbox, telephone pole, in the roadside drainage ditches.
I don't particularly remember them from when I grew up here, though Mom swears they were always a part of the landscape. Why would I blot them out? Why weren't they as important to my eye then as they are now?
Every litany needs a break in the refrain. Every song needs a bridge.
Last night I ask Dad to relate to me some of his favorite memories of the place where he grew up. He told me about preparing the barn for winter; he told me about the Lutheran church bells that would chime at 5pm to let them know their work day was done and it was time to go home. "You could hear them from pretty much anywhere in the valley. On some days, when the air was right, they'd smack you in the face they were so clear."
These things that we hold on to from our childhood, the things that smack us in the face when the air is right: this is why I still come here and start typing. It's got to mean something.
© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.