Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:
Cafe, Leon, Kansas.
It was one of those early autumn days with the much-awaited tingly air. That air was still, not a lick of wind. A few white clouds smeared themselves across the sky but didn’t interfere with the sun.
Dave and I were on the road that Sunday morning, headed southbound toward Belle Plaine. We didn’t need to arrive until about 3 p.m. which was when the gates opened at the Bartlett Arboretum for the Kelley Hunt concert. By leaving early, mid-morning, we had nearly five hours to make the two-hour drive. So, of course, we took the long way.
It was just one of those feel-good days. When I noticed how morning light danced on the fuzzy-topped grasses in the highway ditch, I felt the surge of joyful energy that comes from realizing that you’re lucky enough to be alive and to experience this one particular moment.
Life is about moments like this, moments of being fully present, of noticing, of feeling that we are connected to the world around us.
Traveling is always a good way to be aware of the present moment; we are in movement and are constantly observing new things. Being in the present moment is seeing what’s before us, thinking new thoughts, and being able to let go of those worn-out conversations that seem to take over our minds.
Somewhere south of Cottonwood Falls on K-177, we caught up with a freight train. At the tail end of the train was a backward locomotive, so from behind it looked like the train was going full speed in reverse.
Dave and I stopped for a few minutes in Matfield Green to photograph a corrugated tin fence which was spray-painted with the words: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and “Live and Let Live.”
Old words perhaps, but seeing them in an unexpected place caused me to think about them in a new way. What do those words mean to me? And what do they mean to the person who painted them on the wall?
That train must have been moving slowly because we caught up with it again somewhere south of Matfield Green. The train was our companion for quite a few miles.
The streets of Cassoday were quiet. Bikers were headed elsewhere on this Sunday morning.
When you’re in the present moment, observing the world around you, it is fun to be aware of exactly what you’re noticing and why. Our eyes may all fall upon the same view, but each of us will pick up on something different. One person will wonder why a field has so much broomweed and the next pasture has none. Another will be tracking clouds across the sky. A third person might casually observe how the lines on the highway aren’t quite straight.
I will notice a lone tree on a hill, while a patch of wildflowers catches Dave’s eye. He likes to photograph ditch flowers, so he’s more on the lookout for them.
We’re each a product of our own experiences. A sign at a farmhouse advertised “seasoned firewood,” and as a writer, I think of various meanings of the word “seasoned.”
We are here as witnesses – to the land, to the seasons, to the entire world around us.
Autumn lured us over one hill and the next. It was as if the landscape was saying, “If you liked that view, you’re really going to like this one.”
In Butler County, we cruised into Leon, a community of about 700. Cars were gathered around the café and we thought we’d eat lunch there. But when we got to the door we discovered that the café served as a church on Sundays. We drove on to Augusta for our meal.
I’d never been to Udall before. We paused briefly in the city park where a monument listed the names of the 77 people killed in the 1955 tornado. I noticed that the highway through town was K-55 and wondered if that was a coincidence.
Traveling puts us in a different space, both physically and mentally. And with each new find along the journey, there’s a little hit, a thrill of discovery, a joy at finding something new to notice, something new to add to our experience on this planet, something fresh to roll around in our minds.
Copyright 2012 ~ Cheryl Unruh
Cooper Drug Store, Augusta, Kansas.