In Which I Go Home Again

It was Halloween, and I took the day off work. My husband and I had been meaning to visit my mom to wish her happy birthday - a happy event that occurred two weeks ago. A double-happy event, in fact, as my mother's birthday (Oct. 17) is also the day that my husband and I got married.

We drove the standard way down, which is to say route 322, which is sort of a sucky drive at times. There is always road construction going on through the Narrows below Lewistown or through the Seven Mountains. On this day, there was indeed construction near the entrance to the Boy Scout Camp.

It was also the case that we encountered road peril, as on the big corner over the Laurel Creek Reservoir, a truck right in front of us dropped a bunch of cinder blocks onto the road, pretty much blocking the left lane of traffic. My husband, driving my new car, and ever vigilant as Driver, swiftly did a juke-and-dive, changing lanes quickly and safely to miss the debris. Whew! A narrow escape!

We stopped in Lewistown, where I was born, which is to say, where I met this big, beautiful, glorious world for the first time, and where it met me - at Lewistown Hospital, to be exact. We stopped at a little place called Victory Park, along the Juniata River.

We found the waters there high from the recent rains, and some of the tree trunks submerged. The handicapped access area had been mostly washed away, but was tethered to a nearby tree by a rope. A few ducks cruised along on the high waters, as debris washed past us.

The park boasts a veterans' mural, and a lovely little path lined with trees and benches, with great views of the river. You may see a photo of the tree-lined path in the extras. Just one of the trees (front left) was wearing its October colors, with the rest remaining mostly green.

Before visiting my parents, we stopped and had what will probably be our last meal of the year from the McAlisterville Creme Stop along route 35: two fish sandwiches with everything, and a large order of onion rings. Everything was excellent, and we ate our food on a tray while sitting in the car, with lovely views of golden farm fields. Oh my, so delicious!

We arrived at my parents' house in early afternoon, and found my dad napping on the couch after lunch, as has always been his custom. We had a very nice visit and chatted up a storm, catching up on recent news and just talking about anything under the sun. My gift to my mother was one of my latest photo books, the Little Book of Trees, to add to her growing collection.

The last time we visited, in September, my father had an apple tree that was toppled during a storm. But he sort of bolstered it and strapped it up with sticks and wires, hoping to keep the tree alive through apple harvest time. My photo for that day was my parents, standing in front of that tree.

At this point, he had trimmed it down to a single branch, and I visited the tree in the backyard, under sunny blue skies, and took a few pictures. You may see one in the extras. The house I grew up in, back on a mountain road about two miles from McAlisterville, in is in the center of the photo. (Yes, all eight of us fit in what seems now like a rather little house!)

My dad talked about decisions he had to make: whether to let the last piece of apple tree try to grow, or to replace it with a brand new planting. With both parents age 87, he isn't sure they have time to wait around for a whole new tree to grow. "Let's wait till spring, and see what happens next," he said. And he gave me eight apples to take along, for making pie.

Somehow, the past few times we've visited, we've been there on days when we saw only my parents. That has been an accident of fate and not planned. More often than not, we also get to see numerous of my sisters and brother when we go there. (For instance: here and here - yes, I am one of many.)

As we were hugging and kissing and getting ready to take our leave, my father sniffed my hair and wondered what scent I was wearing. Just shampoo, I said (probably Pantene, my favorite). And then my mother smiled and told us how, the last time we visited, the whole area of the couch where I had sat smelled like me for a few days. A good smell, she said. :-) 

(As I imagine some may be interested in knowing this, for the record, the perfumes I tend to wear most often are Love's Baby Soft, Red Door, and Poison. But most often, Love's Baby Soft, with its gentle baby powder smell. My husband calls it Love's Baby Pants, God knows why. The morning that I wrote this story, I left for work wearing it. I kissed him good-bye and he wished me a good day, and gave an appreciative sniff. "I'm wearing Love's Baby Pants today," I said cheerfully; "Today I'm going to bring joy to the WHOLE WORLD.")

And then we left their house and headed up route 235 over the mountains. Across route 522 through winding little turns and curves, through some lovely foliage, uppy-downy, roundy-roundy, to where route 235 meets route 45. We turned left and headed out the big valley, with one last stop in mind: the place you see above, Hairy John's picnic area. (You may read about the legend of Hairy John here.)

The picnic area is off to the right of the road, with several parking areas, pavilions, and hiking trails that go straight up the mountain. Nestled in the woods nearby, to the right of the main pavilion, is a pretty little pond. It is always peaceful there, and it gets glorious afternoon light through the trees.

In the photo above, you may see the pond at Hairy John's, and the shaft of afternoon light that lit up the area where we placed our chairs and read our books for a few minutes before we had to leave to go back to our house. Of course, I didn't get much reading in myself because I was walking around taking pictures, as per usual!

We made it home safely, with that golden, happy glow you get after good travels and good visits and good eats. For it is always awesome to go home, where you get to see some of the people you love best. And visit some of the scenes and places you love best. And eat some pretty awesome treats.

And home is also where you are greatly loved; and where they are glad to see you every time you show up. And it is where, when you leave, they cherish even the very scent of you that lingers after you have gone. :-)

The soundtrack: Supertramp, Take the Long Way Home.

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