Driving away from every-day routines has always had a way of clearing my thoughts. The natural beauty of landscapes along the way helps to remind me that the earth, the heavens, and all their fullness remain, despite strivings in my own life or cataclysmic world events. They are a constant and reassurance that we are all connected to the earth and each other, despite the kicking and thrashing about of ideas and attempts by governing bodies to implement resolutions and “fix” discrepancies. Traveling along our vast nation’s roadways “keeps me moving forward, trying to find it—–A Place in the World”, borrowing lyrics from a Mary Chapin-Carpenter song. Being born an American probably lends itself to my short list of excuses for not being content to settle in any one place for long, as an attraction to outdoor adventures still draws me away from daily routines that inhibit something essential to my being.
Those roads, lately, have brought with them bittersweet memories of times when families inhabited homes in their formative stages— when love and faith were young with hope and the promise of embarking on important journeys that would expand and improve everyone—or so we believed. Since then, I’ve come to understand no family or love relationship is perfect, and choices made along the way sometimes bring us to points of departure that can be painful. When illusions are shattered, we’re left with the choice to linger in the sadness of “what was” or “what could have been”, or we can determine to set our sights beyond the hurt of false illusions and erroneous assumptions. What remains, after chaff is blown away, is something deeper, capable of carrying us beyond the incompleteness of disappointment. A unique piece of art—a tapestry— evolving for us to stand back and consider.
On a drive out to western Maryland this past weekend, I revisited landscapes and signs off the interstate reminding me of trips in the past to Black Water Falls, Deep Creek Lake, Swallow Falls, Cumberland, and the Appalachian Trail. During a four-decade residence in the state, their natural wonders always had a way of restoring sanity when the pace and congestion of the Baltimore-Washington D. C. area had worn out every sense and depleted every sensibility. Garret, Allegheny, and Washington counties, despite their seasonal economies, still possess a breath-taking beauty. The undulating silhouette of densely forested mountains, cooler mountain air with chirruping locust in trees, and wildlife often observed along roadsides, served as reminders that “richness” consists of more than a padded bank account or investment portfolio.
Adding current events to a scrapbook of memories, this past weekend I had the privilege to hear two of my sons, now living on opposite coast lines of the U.S., play music together again. Several years ago, my oldest son had begun writing songs and practicing for long hours in an upstairs room of our family home. His brother, closest in age, had joined him as a percussionist, gifted from birth in the banging of pots and pans and beating out rhythms as we traveled in our mini-van between school, sports practices and household errands. (For a short time, my youngest son had also joined these two with his steel drums, but surfing and extreme sports took precedence over music-making. Daniel’s “Pan” is still being kept in storage for a later date’s reveal, I predict.) Ben, the percussionist, had joined the Maryland National Guard a few years ago, so between his training and deployment, little time presented itself for him to travel with his older brother, Dave, on tours of the east coast with his band, “Blind Man Leading”. Then last year, Dave relocated across the country to join his youngest brother, who was already exploring the Pacific Northwest.
But time has a way of bringing siblings back together, and as their mom, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be present at a reunion.
Westminster Vineyard and Winery in western Maryland, was the host. A family-owned and operated venue, the newly constructed “Tasting Room”, combined with the personable staff of young adults, provided a hospitable setting. An off-the-beaten-path location for weddings, reunions, special music events, and family-friendly gatherings, this joint venture is sure to increase in popularity as patrons spread the word.
The weather changed from sunny to stormy, then back again to sunshine with azure skies and billowing clouds coasting over lush farm land. A “flight” of red wine and two cheese-board samplers, shared with my step-mother who had driven up from Annapolis for the event, contributed to a wonderful afternoon immersed in conversation, as original and cover songs provided a soothing backdrop. (Willey & Tilley, my travel and trail dog companions, contentedly rested out under a grove of trees in the shade with their water dish close-by.)
On the following day, Sunday, a visit to Downs Park on the Eastern Shore with my son, Ben, and his wife and our “pack” of dogs, reminded me of times our own young family had visited there on church picnics, trail walks, and musical performances at the outdoor ampi-theater. Later, back at their eastern shore house, seeing a home garden and hearing about their dreams to start a farm-to-table enterprise, I was thankful for young adults who value balance in their lives. Needless to say, I’m pleased my children have become part of a generation that cares about the environment, sustainable living, and animals with whom we share the planet. There is no greater joy for a mother than to see her children pursuing dreams as individuals, but also as part of a responsible community.
Monday it was time to pack and leave a region known as an historic Civil War Battleground. The present-day calm and order of Frederick, Mt. Airy, New Market, Libertytown, Damascus, and Westminster, Maryland, now serving the urban sprawl generated by Federal government and military based jobs, gives hope that restoration and civility can be restored and preserved, even after horrendous atrocities of war. Driving back towards another state, Kentucky, also known for its natural beauty, outdoor adventure opportunities, genuine hospitality, and the intoxicating aroma of horses, I could only marvel at the lush green forests and dramatic skies on the roads going west.
God knows, I love this nation. I can barely wait for the next adventure across its vast lands in a continual discovery of common threads that bind us together in a rich tapestry composed of unique people, diverse cultures, and awe-inspiring natural wonders. We are a group of people privileged to inhabit one of the most beautiful countries on earth. We are called to be responsible with its resources,and embrace those who desire to make homes, along with us, among its mountains, hills, deserts, plains, and cities—-those who join us in respecting and preserving a rich heritage, continually changing to allow for diversity without persecution, as it was founded. Let us recognize A Common Thread that make us a unique nation, binding us together in a beautiful tapestry for the common good.
And I, for one, will go the distance, to see the vision realized, as its passed on to a new generation.
Lyrics from a song, Universal Tapestry, penned during my college years:
“The world is a universal tapestry
Each new thread, each rebound being carrying
Binding experiences through barriers of color,
Boundaries of design, and terrains of texture.”
26 And He has made from one blood[a] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’