The tantalizing smell wafting from the bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken,
the long ride from the restaurant to our picnic spot on Skyline Drive,
my impatience as I anticipated the mouth watering chicken, moist coleslaw,
hiking to the falls, exploring Big Meadows, and other fun adventures.
The wind in my face as Stormy and I galloped through Paul State Forest,
wiping spiderwebs from my face as we trotted along our favorite paths,
stopping and tethering Stormy in Fairy Land, our special clearing,
listening, watching, and absorbing nature’s magic as my horse grazed nearby.
The fun, laughter, and excitement of winter adventures with my brothers,
sledding, ice-skating, bonfires, and hot chocolate to stay warm,
jumping off the milk-house roof into the snowdrift below,
dad piling the snow with the skid-steer and making it into an igloo for us to play in.
Acting out history with my brothers,
making tepees and log cabins in the forest,
galloping down the lane pulling our red wagon — a horse pulling a covered wagon west,
grinding dandelions on a stone — an Iroquois woman making flat-bread.
The sweet smell of fresh hay in the barn,
piling hay bales to make secret passages and tunnels,
searching for kittens hidden by their protective mama,
throwing the bales through the hay hole to the hungry calves below.
The soft warm wool of the first orphaned lamb I owned against my cheek,
going to the basement, sitting next to the furnace bottle feeding her,
the protectiveness and pride I felt as she followed me everywhere I went,
arguing with my brother about whether pigs or sheep stank the worst.
The fresh smell of spring,
helping hoe straight rows in the garden,
placing a seed in its new home, burying it, and anticipating it’s growth,
the cool, soft, soothing, feel of fresh tilled soil on my bare feet.
Coming home from church with friends in tow,
the smell of roast beef and potatoes in the oven,
the conversation, laughter, and then off to play —
tag, hide and seek, or maybe an exploration of the woods.
The sweet, innocence of newborn calves,
teaching them to drink from a bottle,
the joy I felt when they would run up to me during feeding time,
the contentment as a calf nuzzled me and placed it’s head in my lap.
The pride I felt as I went to the pasture at milking time,
the peaceful low mooing as the cows talked to each other,
the quiet plodding of their hooves as they moseyed from the pasture to the parlor,
the low swish, swish, swish sound of the milkers.
Sleeping outside pretending we were cowboys on roundup,
looking at the stars, admiring their beauty, and wondering about Heaven,
talking and laughing with my brothers until we fell asleep under the night sky,
waking up to the sound of birds singing and finding ourselves damp with dew.
My excitement at my sister deciding to join our family —
another girl to help me hold my own against three brothers —
the fun, laughter, tears, and conversations we shared late at night,
learning that the saying, “the best things come to those who wait.” is true.
The beauty and peacefulness of the Shenandoah Valley,
the snug safe feeling of having mountains to the east and west,
the feelings of safety, comfort, and peace,
the richness of family, faith, and love.