Kentucky, like many rural places, is peppered with country stores. They were once hopping with business as travelers on their way to work, the next town or, the next state, would stop and get their fuel or fill their belly with a fried bologna and tomato sandwich.
I deterred from my normal stop at a modern gas station with it’s pay-at-the-pump impersonal convenience. With my gas gauge teetering on empty I was certain I wouldn’t make it the 8 miles to town. So I pulled into our neighborhood country store with their marginally higher fuel prices.
An older man with a white and gray beard came out to meet me at the pump. He was dressed in his work clothes complete with his stitched and worn name tag; his ball cap bill, slick with oil from countless adjustments.
“How much?” he asked.
I went inside with my youngest boy, his brothers already off to school for the day, he was sure to get a morning treat. A pack of donuts, maybe more.
We picked our drinks and he held his donuts like a prize and we walked to the counter. With each step the uneven wood floor creaked, worn by thousands of steps. As we waited on my sausage biscuit to warm up, my little guy struck up a conversation with the gentleman who pumped our gas.
“What’s your name?” Little guy said.
“My name? My name is Mark,” the man said.
He told the man his name and the man told us how he shared a first name with my son. He told us that he was named after his grandfather and also a famous writer. After our conversation we made our way back to my car and down the road to Nana’s house.
That encounter made our day a little more rich with humanity, something a a modern pay-at-the-pump convenience store cannot do. I will be stopping at more country stores and mom-n-pop restaurants in my travels because I enjoy getting to know the people who make these places unique. Do you have a favorite little stop? Have you ever been surprised by stopping somewhere you weren’t sure about at first?
I admit it, I am one of those people. The ones that wake up early even on weekends – on purpose. I am ready to tackle the day after my first cup of coffee. I revel in the serenity the birth of a new day brings. I watch sunrises with a thankful heart for new chances and a clean slate. I can’t wait to wake up and know that yesterday is gone with all it’s sorrows, trouble and frustrations. Maybe if you saw a few of these every other morning you could become a morning person too. Maybe not. But this is (besides my family of course) what keeps me going, a clean slate written all over the sky and embodied in the jeweled grasses early everyday.
Parched, dry, dusty and dying, it appeared
laying my head on my pillow and drifting into a dream.
My senses are awakened by the scent of moist earth
riding on a cool and gentle breeze through my window.
Familiar sounds, distant but remembered.
Little pelts on my roof top.
Tiny drops of an antidote for the affliction plaguing the land.
They call it drought. Earth is now quenched.
It has rained.
Yes, I’m two days late, but the other day was the 236th Birthday of my country. Not everybody likes the USA and in certain aspects I can understand. One thing is certain, however, over two hundred and thirty years ago the odds were against a group of colonies, people who had left their homeland and everything they’ve ever known to make a new life and with a fresh start. Imagine the overwhelming feeling of taking on the most powerful military in the world in the Revolutionary war. Then the daunting task of creating a government from scratch with the sparring and debating involved, while the founders carved out what we now know as the Constitution. Through Faith, Perseverance, Divine Providence and a deep conviction that we have inalienable rights which cannot be denied, they succeeded and won their freedom from the most powerful empire in the world.
Being a great grand-daughter of immigrants, I am grateful my ancestors were able to come to America to be part of the freedom that courageous people had won. I am grateful that when my ancestors decided to escape oppression there was somewhere for them to come and there was hope for a new life. When I celebrate the 4th it is not just for pride in my country but for hope in humanity. Hope that someday it will universally be realized that ALL are truly created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The following are pictures of my great-grandpa Paul Jacobs. He came from Slovakia to America when he was 14. Years later went back to bring his parents to America who didn’t want to leave the grandmother (Bábuška in front of the house in a dark dress). They later left Slovakia after the grandmother passed away, I think in the 1940s. Beatrix Mana, my mom and author of the blog http://babydogogos.wordpress.com, will correct me if I’m wrong.
Great-Grandpa Jacobs (left) in front of his restaurant in Cleveland.
Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma “Jake”
Great-Grandpa Jake with his two sons Leo (center) and Ray (my grandpa Jake) (left).
Along with countless other people like him, Paul Jacobs was given a chance to work hard and give his family a good life; a life that probably would have been completely different in his homeland. I am grateful that I am here today, an American with my own family to raise and make a good home for and celebrating the hope that American Independence means to me.
It is time I force a new perspective on myself. I’m tired of being disappointed and emotional. I think I need to let go, quit trying to control everything, expect less out of others and give myself a break as well. A wheat field must be ready before it can yield a harvest worthy of the bread we eat. Am I the wheat waiting on time and weather, or the farmer waiting on the wheat, or the baker waiting on the farmer, or the consumer waiting on the baker? Who knows. What I do know is I am getting ahead of myself with impatience and expectations and will probably not yield a harvest of anything if I keep it up.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
I had the opportunity to see the sunrise from my mother-in-law’s house this morning—of course I took pictures. It reminded me of a song. Here are both. Enjoy and have a great weekend!
We were blessed with a small afternoon shower. It rained long enough to water the plants I had just planted, saving me the trouble!