Sunday, February 7, 2016

Where I live.

At the end of this month we will mark 31 years since we moved into our rural home in Kansas

Every day, twice a day, (except those blissful days I don’t leave the house) I drive by an overgrown, abandoned baseball field equipped with modest lights for evening games.  It was one of the first things I noticed when we moved in.  At the time I thought they might still mow it to use the coming spring and summer.  But to my disappointment they did not.  Instead we drove our kids 12 miles into town where they went to school to play ball.  And I was left to imagine scenes of evening games with local boys taking the field and neighbors filling the stands.

Last week while driving by that field and listening to Cyprus Avenue, (a local NPR music show) I heard the song Baseball by Sam Baker.  I won’t write all of the lyrics (beautiful that they are), just the refrain:
Another Saturday comes and goes
Another south wind comes and blows
Another baseball field another pop fly
Another bunch of boys another blue sky
Once again I started thinking about those imagined ball games in my abandoned field.  And then it occurred to me that one of the beautiful things about where we live is that you can drive down the street and except for the occasional glimpse of a satellite dish or a car in a driveway; on many stretches of our road you really can’t tell what year it is.  It could be 40 years ago, 50 or even 80 years ago.  Not much changes.
When we moved in we were definitely outsiders.  Our neighbors were born and raised here and were finishing raising their families, as their parents and grandparents did before them.  We were the youngest, our oldest child hadn’t started school yet and our youngest wouldn’t be born until the following year.
Our closest neighbor was an elderly couple whose adult sons lived around the corners in opposite directions with their families.  That first year the elderly husband died and the nearly 100 year old church that sat next to our property ceased to have services.  Over the years to come that lovely elderly woman became a surrogate grandmother to our children and our youngest child’s closest playmate.   I once asked Hali just what did she and Mrs. Finch do all that time they were together.  She replied, “You know, play cards and talk old lady talk.”  She was about seven at the time.
Time passed and we bought the church next door, the one where Mrs. Finch grew up attending as well as her family.  The church then became a place for birthday and slumber parties for our children, their high school graduation parties, then college graduation parties, one of our daughter’s weddings, some of our grandchildren’s birthday parties and many family holidays.
Now as I look up and down our road we are the long-timers.  While we once had imagined how some of our kids would stay and raise their families here it’s come to pass that they’ve all moved to the city.  I’m not complaining they are all within a 20 to 30 minute’s drive.
So while much of what can be seen doesn’t change, lives do.  And maybe our time has come.  Maybe it’s time for someone else to raise a family here.  Now we are thinking of selling and moving into our motor home to travel to wherever the winters are warmer and the summer are cooler, (and possibly the state government is better).  Living in our motor home we’ll still have the means to always come back to be close to our kids.
When the day comes that Paul and I close the door for the last time I’m sure will be a hard one.  Hell, it’s just frightening.  I think of some of the circumstances the other people faced when they left this little community and in comparison we are lucky.  We are still married, still healthy, and making the choice of our own free will.

So there you have it.  My sentimental ramblings are over.  As a complete coincident, someone posted this video that some college kids made in 1966 of the town we live closest to.  While many of the businesses are gone much of the town still looks the same, except the fashions and the vehicles it could be 2016.    If you care to take a nostalgic look you can watch it here: 

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