The Path Home

| 2/16/2012 12:41:31 PM

Lou Ann head shotSince moving back to the farm, I’ve noticed I have a tendency to create well-worn paths to places I love. I have one to my favorite spot on top of the hill that overlooks this abundant river valley, and I have one around the front of the house, up over the rise to the east and back across by the shed where my dog, Sam, and I love to walk several times a day.

And then there’s the one that led me back to this farm. That path is called Oregon Trail Road and is, I’ve been told, the longest stretch of the original Oregon Trail still in use as a road. I walk a part of it almost every day and never fail to be in awe of the settlers who walked its entire length. There is little doubt I would have lasted no more than three days on the trail back then. And even if I had, at the end of those three days, I would have likely thrown myself under some wagon wheels to escape the misery that must have been.

My path from and back to this spot in the northern Flint Hills was certainly more circuitous that those following the Oregon Trail. I left this farm when I was 17 and didn’t know if I’d ever come back, at least not to stay. During most of my 20s and 30s, home was wherever I laid my head. I had a case of wanderlust that kept me on the move. I didn’t need much comfort or even familiarity, just a place to catch some rest and a little shelter. I was full of spunk and curiosity and wanted to see the world. My dreams were filled with bright lights and big cities, and I couldn’t wait to explore what was beyond these fields and prairie.

I saw quite a lot in the four decades I was away. I lived in Kansas City, Chicago and San Francisco, and traveled all over the United States and a number of countries in Europe. I met new people, learned lots of new things, had some amazing adventures, and remained stalwart in my belief that it didn’t matter where I lived because home was something I carried in my heart.

I still believe that.  But now I also know that the space in my heart that was always “home” was this farm. Every inch of it holds some kind of memory for me. The trees that line the driveway have stood as witness to my growth. They were there, although also younger then, when I took my first bike ride – without training wheels – on my shiny blue Huffy. I can still remember feeling the security and safety of my father’s hand on my back, steadying me as I wobbled toward the road. As I turned and headed east, now under my own power, I caught a glimpse of panic in Dad’s eyes. While knowing I would be back this time, he must have wondered how long until I took that left turn at the end of the driveway and kept going.

When I did make that turn, at 17, and headed off to college, I didn’t know if I would ever live here again. I came back for visits; however, there were times when the length between those visits was rather long. But no matter how long I was away, this was always a place so familiar that I could walk around in the dark and not bump into a single thing.

2/17/2012 1:52:09 AM

Lou Ann, that's a great heart warming story of coming back home. Welcome to GRIT blogging. Many bloggers here in this community have tried the city life as you have. Their story is similar to yours in that it always brings them to the country life. Not all started out life in the country but have felt the call of the simple hard work of country living over the ease of city convience living. As for me, well, I have lived in both worlds. If I could, I would live the country life but urban life has to be good enough. I hope to hear more about your life experiences. Have a great country life day.

2/16/2012 8:07:53 PM

For anyone that was raised on a farm you hit the nail on the head. No matter how often you return, or how long it has been since you were there,something about it is familiar, warm and inviting. Returning to your roots.

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