I was sitting on the porch. The porch of Adam’s Mamaw’s house. The house that his mom grew up in. At the end of a holler in Kentucky. At a valley in the Appalachian Mountains. Sitting. On a bench. Watching the sun fall behind the foliage and leave behind streaks of yellow and orange. Listening to the creek trickle and then, in spots, gush as it runs right beside the house, where, as I understand it, they used to drive their cars straight through when no road was in existence. The birds and bugs, warbling and crooning in the distance. The perfect accompaniment to our auspicious view. It was a moment. One in time that I needed to add to my memory jar of words that I keep here. Like the fireflies of my life captured for their glow.
We had arrived earlier in the day.
We had driven a bit each day. From our home in Nebraska. Through Iowa. Stopping in the Quad Cities. Into Illinois. Creating memories with cousins and farm life. And then, on straight through Indiana, Ohio — a late night stop for chili and slumber — and then, home. To Adam’s mom, at least. Home.
A new feast for these eyes. A new adventure for our brood. A place where the hubs and grandma and other family would help us as we once again, lifted the tree. To show the boys roots. Roots that are buried rich with family history.
Kentucky. The place where my husband and his family would visit summer after summer. A dreamy playland for children to explore with abandon. The land full of sprawling horse ranches at the entrance and then, through mountain passes and blasted-rock pass throughs. And then, trees. Tall tall trees that seem to cover every inch of the land… From ground to sky. The trees, lush with leaves. Fog… Filling the gaps. The roads… Winding and leading us through curves and hills. A natural coaster, rolling us up and over and through and around, getting us to our destination.
And then, onto the next part of the adventure. The journey down the holler. A holler. New to this Nebraska girl. A gap in the mountains. Laying low in between. With a one-lane road taking travelers to the homes within.
But to this small town gal, it feels familiar. Some houses bigger, some smaller. Some showing signs of an economy hit hard by the loss of industry. Others, like you’d find on any other road in any other city.
We move to the side to let a few cars pass through and the road winds and weaves and twists and turns and then, suddenly, at the very head of the holler, it’s her first home. Her place. Where her universe began. Where her mother still lives. Where part of her heart surely still beats.
“This is beautiful,” the Middlest exclaims as the car is put into park. And I agree. But not just because of the house in front of us. The green house with the porch swing, built by her father’s own hands. But also, beautiful because of the backdrop that brings it all together. The mountain. Untouched by man’s design. Begging for feet to explore the bumps and puddles and rocks and incline.
But that’s for tomorrow. Because tonight, as we sat on the porch and looked out at the sun melting into the horizon, I found myself feeling like our feet were hanging off the edge of a place in the world that begged to be breathed in for just a bit. Without diving into it. A place where, for today, all felt right with the world.
A place that reminds me, once again, that life’s beauty can be spoken in hundreds of languages and seen in a million little leaves glistening with the setting sun upon them. A place where my children get to, once again, experience the goodness of life. Simple, easy goodness. Of nature’s design. The goodness of lifting the tree. Getting to know their family. Their stories. And the blood that flows down to them. And living the goodness that comes with seeing the sun set in as many places as your little heart can take you.
There are so many adventures we will have. And for today, I thank God for Kentucky and family and a life full of the pure beauty of the setting sun. And that we get to do it all…together.