The text came by way of my sister who lives a few states further south, in warmer temperatures. The request was to host a young man overnight who was traveling the country while waiting on an appointment as a Master’s Candidate in Civil Engineering — a recent graduate of UC at Davis. I’d never met him, but his mother had been a neighborhood friend in Maryland when my sister and I were growing up. Really, the young man’s mother had been closest to my sister, but you remember names, if not faces, when you’re young and just starting life’s adventures. Considering where we live in Kentucky and the few visitors we’ve had in the seven years since moving away from a major metropolitan area, I was excited to host anyone who might add a little color to our routine “home” environment. Coming on the heels of a holiday when working took precedence over being with my own grown children and family, it was some consolation to feel like our small farm could be of some service to a young adventurer, much like my own young adults whom I’d been missing.
The wild card turned out to be a winter storm that was tracking the same path chosen by our soon to be guest. Meeting just off an interstate as we got off work after dark, turned out to be the best part of the plan, since GPS devices like the one on which he depended, had been known to take its inquirers down back country roads that were treacherous with nothing but headlights for visibility, sketchy cell service, falling snow, driving winds, and slick surfaces trying to out-wit rural county road crews. At the rendezvous point before our hour and a half drive to our small farm-house, the young man from California in his compact car told me it was his first time driving in snow, and that he’d been delayed by a tractor trailer jack-knifed on the interstate backing up traffic. Sobering words for a mother of young adult drivers. This young man could be any one of them, so I was determined to exercise even more caution leading him to what was supposed to be warm accommodations and sustenance for a night.
As the house warmed with fire wood put in a pot belly stove and space heaters cranked to capacity, a cup of hot chocolate and news forecasts for the following days made it clear some extra planning would be needed to complete the trip to our nation’s capitol for a day of sight-seeing before returning a southern route to his place of internship by the next weekend
What impressed me was his resourcefulness: equipped with a lap-top, GPS, camera, external hard-drive, and car packed with food and blankets, he was ready for anything, it seemed.
He even “rolled with the punches” when a cracking sound followed by gushing water rudely disrupted sleep in the early morning as a frozen water pipe burst and a neighbor had to be called to come and turn off the house’s water supply. (I’d found every pot and pan available to fill, before a neighbor and Good Samaritan arrived with the needed tool.)
Before heading off on his adventure again, our guest took time to walk outside with his camera and visit briefly with the horse I was trying to feed as the dogs expended some pent up energy. A cup of hot chocolate was all he seemed to require, and a few minutes to book his next overnight stop en route to his destination. It seemed the only thing I had to offer was a few jars of home-made jam and a few stories about our attempts to make a go of a simpler lifestyle. In our brief conversations, I realized this was a young man who represented leadership in the up and coming generation. Thoughtful, intelligent, and yet adventurous enough to desire experiences beyond his own comfort zone, I was somehow encouraged and thankful to have had anything of value—-even if a place to sleep for one night—-to offer him.
I thought once again of my own young adult children, and hoped they would find the gift of hospitality waiting for them, as well, as they explore their world and form relationships for their own life and times.
Thank you, Michael for gracing our humble home. Safe travels to you…..till our paths cross again, on another life altering adventure. We wish you well and would welcome you again.
Karen & Steve
Willie, Tilley, Lucy, Little Bit, and Lady Latte
@ White Oak Farm in Kentucky
Jan. 3, 2014