Two lane country roads, small post offices, friendly people who give that salute rural people give to each other when passing on the road. You know it - that half wave of lifting your fingers off the steering wheel to acknowledge each other while keeping the other hand on the wheel. It says, "Good Morning. I see you. I see you as we slowly pass one another on this tiny road and give each other room to move. I see you as we pass one another and I acknowledge you. I see you because you are not just a blur in the heavy rush hour traffic of the cities."
This morning was a beautiful sunny morning that begged us to be out in the weather with no jackets. It was a morning to wash clothes and hang them on the clothes line of our temporary home and let the sun dry them.
It was a morning to have sweet minutes alone with Barrie as he carried the wet clothes to the line and we chatted while I hung up the clothes and he held the basket for me. Such a simple act of domestic work, but the type we had forgotten in the hustle of life. It was one of those simple moments and memories that last a lifetime We lost sight of those simple moments for many years while rushing to and from work and stressing over the things that really have no meaning at the end of it all.
I know some of you reading this still live in the rural parts of the USA and may be thinking that we could have lived like this all along. No - we couldn't have. Our lives and careers took us in a different direction for our working years, but we are so grateful to have found a way to come home.
The days seem longer in the country. Time stretches because there is no need to hurry here. It's the joy of retirement coupled with the joy of the country! It's that reward that we worked long and hard to reach.
Sunday we happened upon a jazz group because in Barrie's "walk about" he saw the drummer carrying his equipment and offered to help. It was a wonderful afternoon! We sat in a little pub listening to swing and jazz for two hours and met some lovely people. I could have been sitting in the Herrick Pool Hall and listening to my parents' friends chatting back and forth with only one difference - the British accent replaced the South Dakota farm accent.
One of the couples were in their eighties and come out every Sunday to hear the jazz. We talked about how great it was to be retired and she said, "but it's a full time job! You don't get a day off!" I laughed because Barrie says that all the time! She & I agreed that people should be retired most of their life and work the last 20 years. Do it all in reverse while you are young! Wouldn't that be nice?
And now it is late afternoon. The clouds have returned, the laundry is off the line, the sky is a grey October sky. The leaves are turning and the weather is getting colder. Barrie is cooking so that he can do a wine tasting for all of us tonight before Jason and Niki leave to go home!
I have found an apron with Christmas decorations on it and am wearing it to add a little holiday cheer to the tasting. We will not be home for Christmas this year and that is fine with all of us, but I can't help trying to make the last night with them a little piece of the holidays.
So here we are - home again. In a country far from where I grew up.
Good country people are near. Family is around me. Good smells are in the kitchen. A smile is on everyone's face. Laughter rings the table and I am grateful for all of these things and more.
Mr. Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again. It just might be a different geographic location.
Once again, Home Exchange has allowed us to live like the locals and we are always amazed at how easy it is to exchange and how lovely all the people are!