The driving at night thing doesn’t happen a lot for me anymore. I’m almost always home before dark. But when it does happen, it’s time to reflect – to see lights cutting through the pitch black, and to gasp over bright white lights strung along the roof line of a little church in the country, on the drive home from a Christmas gathering. This one was partially hidden by trees, and its steeple had a star. I wanted to slam on the brakes, pull over, take a picture.
This day had brought me a new experience, out past the familiar country spaces I visited as a child, and into the next town’s territory. Wide open spaces allowed the silos and ginormous out buildings of farms to jut up from the horizon, past rows of barren trees. Oh, the trees this time of year. They’re losing all their leaves. They are like the hands of an old farmer, bare and bent, swollen in random places, cold and stiff.
I write often about my deeply rooted (pun intended) love of nature, the outdoors, the freedom and holiness I feel in ordinary outside places. Even in the winter, when the cold winds steal my breath and turn my hands stiff, I love it. I love sitting with people who have that same passion, and listen to stories of working the earth for fifty years, how work was never done, and family was everything.I couldn’t possibly say what it is like to work that hard for that many years while a love of family and farm run deeper and deeper with each passing day. I can’t know what it feels like to stop. We can only sit now, sharing stories, joys and regrets, and a few tears. And then drive home in the dark, astounded by life, and at the light cutting through it.