Grateful some things don’t change
As a child growing up, my vision was not focused on my surroundings. It didn't need to be; things had just always been the same and would continue to be the same, as far as I was concerned. No new, big projects were built in our little town; no noticeable population growth or change took place. The years slipped by, one after the other, in the same quiet, steady, simple way...
Until, suddenly, my friends and I were grown up. That was when change began. People moved away to work or go to school or serve their country or find families and new friends or to simply see new places. I was part of that moving away, and I count that a good thing because now I realize that sometimes one must get away from what is familiar to really see it. And, thankfully, I was one of the ones lucky enough to get to come back home.
Late yesterday afternoon, I slowly drove around the square in our little town, and then I drove around again. Many of the places of business were closed. There was no traffic, and I could just take my time and soak in the beauty all around me. Sitting in a sort of bowl, bounded on the south by the curve of Lick Creek and sheltered by hills showing some early fall color, the center of our town was a sight to behold. The sun slanted through the red/gold maple leaves on the maple trees surrounding the 1933-era courthouse at the perfect angle to make them glow.
I parked my truck and got out and walked around. As I shuffled through the leaves that had already fallen, picking up a few perfect specimens, I was taken back by the scent that speaks autumn -- that spicy, woodsy fragrance that we stirred up as children, when jumping into a pile of leaves was one idea of heaven.
The October sun had warmed the monument to Ozark County's fallen soldiers. Just touching it made me feel connected to the ones named, even those whom I didn't know. They are my kin, not because of blood but for having shared this small place as home.
The old log cabin has seen many autumns come and go, far more than I have. But I feel kin to it, too, because so many of my people erected similar structures when they first came to these old hills.
The big hill beyond the creek is still covered with trees, just as it was when I was growing up. The courthouse, though it now has an elevator, is still the same blocky building, housing county offices and court. The square is still the same place I used to ride my bike without a care in the world when I was 11 years old.
I've been known to think that progress is a good thing, that change and growth are important. But yesterday, I was so grateful that some things don't change. Those feelings of security and comfort that come with sameness, dependability and familiarity flooded my being as I looked at our little town square through a lens of love.
Autumn still comes, and the trees still turn pretty colors. The quietness is still there in the late afternoon, and when a young boy rode by on his bike, the picture was complete.
Six decades later, my vision has come into focus. I see clearly that nothing -- and yet everything -- is just about perfect, right here at home.