I hated to admit how dependent I had become on FD driving me places. Over the last seventeen years, he has done all of the driving on long trips. And I could only think of a couple of times where I drove a few hours to relieve him. Thinking back, the longest journey I have ever made on my own was a five-hour drive. I knew though, that breaking up my trip to Nebraska by staying with my niece, Rachel, in Wichita, Kansas would make the drive doable. Actually, the biggest challenge I faced with this trip, was the new truck we had just purchased. With it, I was concerned that all of the new technology might be a little overwhelming. The morning I started my journey, a niece in Nebraska texted me saying, “I hope you are not driving down the road in the rain, wondering how to turn on your windshield wipers?”. Funny, that very thought had occurred to me at one point as I spotted dark clouds ahead. Luckily, the wipers operated just like the older model trucks.
It was the GPS that turned out to be the biggest headache, as it did not recognize my niece’s address in Wichita. On top of that, it spent more time “acquiring signal” than it did having a signal, and the voice activation was often delayed. Also, a couple of times there was street confusion – the GPS made the decision to take me to Splitwood Way street instead of East Splitwood Way which is what I had programmed into the system. Fortunately, I had visited Rachel before and knew my way by sight at that point. I did, however, get lost in a detour the next day while heading out of Wichita. I was following GPS instructions but, of course, the detour did not allow the course that the GPS indicated. In the end, it was my gut instinct, looking at the position of the sun, and the eventual rerouting of the GPS that got me back on track.
Over the rest of the trip, it was fairly easy to figure out many of the other bells and whistles the truck had to offer. The touch screen in front of me made everything easy. My niece Rachel and my sister Juli, who were much more proficient at operating these gadgets, were kind and encouraging in helping me learn. I appreciated their hands-on lessons because I generally dislike reading through owner’s manuals. Rachel discovered (and loved) the massaging seats setting, which I found utterly ridiculous for the driver’s seat. Wouldn’t that make a person sleepy? Rachel smiled and said, “You really need to live a little, Aunt Lori”. Maybe she is right, but I never did give the massaging seats a whirl. My brother gave his ‘man’ approval on the truck, but indicated if I was to drive any gravel or rock roads that I needed to get some mud flaps. And I found out fairly quickly that “Ruby” could certainly move when I put my foot to the pedal. I will get to those situations in another post, but both times I broke speed limits due to my niece Emily having some kind of “emergency” due to being late and/or forgetting something. I swear, what aunties will do for their nieces and nephews…
I flew by the seat of my pants on this trip, and I found that I managed everything, and even more than I hoped for. Mom and I were able to spend time together several days during the week. She seemed to be feeling better and managing well. I generally do not get to see much of my sister Lisa, who lives another hour away, but we had two days together. One of those afternoons, she and I worked at our brother Dale’s place, helping him cut young trees and hauling them to the burn pile. Over the course of the trip, I stayed at my sister Juli’s home, helping her around the house and running errands. One evening, I met up with some old friends at the local bar to catch up on many years worth of stories and have some good laughs. I did not follow my usual Paleo diet this trip either. Instead, I ate whatever was available. As a result, I went home seven pounds heavier, but I figured the pecan orchard would whoop me back into shape in no time! No worries there.
But the highlight of the trip was the day of the solar eclipse. Juli and I decided we would make it a fun day for mom, and headed to her home in Cordova, Nebraska. Juli had just worked the night shift at a nearby hospital so she was tired, but we were none the less excited about spending the next hours taking in the eclipse with mom. Besides, we had a few silly ideas up our sleeves to pass the time while we waited for the big event. And we were surprised when we got to Mom’s to find my sister Lisa and her family! With the roads predicted to be heavy with traffic that day, we did not feel any of the family would venture south to Mom’s house. And, before long, my brother Dale and his wife Omelea arrived, even though Dale had not been too keen about coming to watch the event, as he had lots of work to do back at the farm, so we were surprised to see them as well.
With such a large group now gathered together, Juli pointed out that we might want to head a mile out of town to the small Danish cemetery where our mom’s relatives are buried to view the eclipse. That way, we would not be bothered by the lights of town if the skies got dark. While we discussed this plan with others, we noticed mom visiting with some folks who were walking by her home. Apparently, these people were from Minneapolis, Minnesota and had driven to Lincoln to see the eclipse. On discovering that two busloads of people from Lincoln were driving to Cordova to view the eclipse, they too thought it sounded like an out-of-the-way place to get off of the beaten path. After visiting a bit, we invited this family to join us out at the cemetery.
As we drove slowly down the gravel road to the cemetery, I felt that prideful pull that I often feel when I return to Nebraska during the summer and fall months. I never enjoyed the cold, blustery winters growing up in the north. But I did love the summer weather, the crops, and the hum of irrigation motors. Lush green fields surrounded us now. Corn and soybean fields were visible for miles and the roads were quiet. Only the summer winds rippling through the fields made a soft, swooshing noise. Come fall, the roads would be busy with harvest in full swing. The hum of distant grain elevators would carry for miles and grain dust would fill the skies. As we pulled into the cemetery, tall corn plants greeted us, surrounding the cemetery fences like sentries. The smell of earth and damp from recent rains filled my nostrils. It was an oddity to feel so alive in what was a final resting place for so many. And how appropriate for many of these resting souls to be farmers and farmers wives, surrounded by corn.
The Minnesota visitors parked on the next gravel pathway just a short distance from us. As we piled out of the pickup, they were setting up some sort of apparatus to view the sun with. We set out lawn chairs and soon everyone was chattering and having a good laugh about how silly we all looked in our solar eyeglasses. I must tell on myself that, as prepared as I always am, I absent-mindedly left my pack of ten, solar eye glasses back in Oklahoma. Fortunately, Juli’s mother-in-law had ordered a package of twenty-five glasses and had some to spare. For the next hour, while waiting for the beginning moments of the eclipse, we visited and laughed. Even Spike and Honey, Dale and Omelea’s dogs, seemed to enjoy the gathering of family and the fresh air.
Just as the beginning stage of the eclipse started, the Minnesota folks invited us over to have a look through their special binoculars. I was the first to venture over, mainly because they had approached us twice by then and I felt it would be rude not to have a look since they insisted. I was not prepared for what I saw! Viewing the eclipse through this binoculars with special filters was one hundred times more magnificent than what we were seeing through our now pathetic-in-comparison, solar glasses. One by one, each of us ventured over. The elder member of the Minnesota group happened to be an astronomer, but it was clear the entire family was knowledgeable about the solar eclipse, planets, stars, and the galaxies. Those of us who were interested, stood around the Minnesota folks and took in our science lesson. I thought of my friend Ruthie, back in Oklahoma. She is a retired science teacher and, on every outing we have together, she teaches me something I did not know. She would have really enjoyed being here today. My brother was the last to venture over to have a look through the binoculars, and I wished I had a picture of him as he stepped back. Here was a man just now convinced of the magnificence of what was taking place in the solar system around him. I cannot say how many times I saw him venture back over there. For a guy whose hip gives him pain daily, that hip got a lot of exercise that afternoon!
In this video I simply wished to show the darkness at the corona stage of the eclipse. Later a niece asked if anyone heard the crickets chirping… and sure enough, the video captured their night noise.
Unfortunately, I did not get a lot of great shots with my iPhone that day, and I purposefully left my DSLR camera back at Juli’s house. Deep inside I did not want to be the photographer, documenting the event for the blog or for everyone in the family. Instead, I wanted to see, and feel, and simply remember. I still get goosebumps thinking about that morning/afternoon. Those were precious moments with my family… and a special time with strangers, who shared their knowledge and binoculars with us, giving us a view far greater than we had any idea could be had in a country cemetery. Just after the corona stage, when the bright diamond burst forth from the ring, something happened to all of us… a connection, emotion, something overwhelming that I could only describe in the human word, love. There were oooh’s and ahhh’s and exclamations of amazement. We began hugging each other – even the Minnesota family! Some of our eyes welled up with tears, and all of us had big, knowing smiles as we continued to embrace each other. And for a few, glorious moments, everything was bright, alive and beautiful.
© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…