Afternoon Light Through Trees

It was one of the days you dream about: warm and sunny and gorgeous. My husband and I embarked on an impromptu family visit, driving to visit my mom and dad, age 83; the first time we'd seen them since Christmas. There had been one family event in between - back in February - that we had missed due to snow. It had been way too long since we'd visited.

We stopped briefly on the drive down to check out the Juniata River, which was running high and a bit muddy. It was the first day of fishing season in the county we lived in, and we expected to encounter lots of fishermen. But in Juniata County, fishing season opened two weeks ago, and at the fishing access stop along the river, there was only one truck, with two fishermen along the banks with their gear. I spotted pink and red buds on the tippy-tops of the trees across the water. Springs burbled out from the banks of the hillside and ran down to meet the river. We spent five or ten minutes walking around. From there, we got in the car and headed to my parents' house.

One of the delights of springtime in Pennsylvania is that all of the little local ice cream stops reopen. And so our lunch was courtesy of my parents and the local ice cream place, called simply "The Creme Stop," located along route 35 near McAlisterville. We had steak hoagies with tomato dressing, french fries, a vanilla shake for me, chocolate for my husband. My younger sister and her daughter, age 8, showed up to visit, and they loaned me some implements for a little photo shoot I've been scheming about (more on this one day soon, I promise).

My parents still live in the house that my father and his relatives built by hand in the early 1950s. It is the house I was raised in; I bought my own house since then, but my parents' house still feels like "home" to me. It was a wonderful visit, and we spent the entire time talking, talking, talking, catching up on all that we've missed. I come from a large family; usually when we visit, the house is packed with people stuffed in every corner. With such short notice, only a few of us were there on this day, but that was cool too. It felt good to be back home, among the people I love best in the whole wide world.

Around mid to late afternoon, we took our leave of them, and began heading home. We had brought our chairs and our daysacks along, and we had time for just one stop. So we paid a short visit to the Hairy John picnic area along route 45, where I strolled around and took some pictures. There is a spring there, and a charming little pool. I was looking for amphibians, but all I found was one desiccated and dried-up large gray/blue salamander. I did spot a bunch of white gelatinous egg sacks in the water, probably left there by frogs. In a little while, that joint will really be hopping!

As I sat in my chair at the edge of the water feeling happy and content, spending a last few minutes before getting in the car to head back to our house, I looked up and saw this scene.  The afternoon sun through the trees behind the little spring at the edge of the pond had become golden and mellow, and both the light and the trees were reflected on the still waters.  The angle of the light indicated the day would be ending soon, but I was not sad. Instead, I was grateful, my heart full: what a golden and beautiful day it had been . . . going home at last.

The song to accompany this picture, I dedicate to my family, and especially to my parents, whom I love with all my heart: Johnny Cash, You Are My Sunshine.

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