Saturday, February 12, 2011

In Awe in Indiana

At 4:15 this morning, my yappy little Yorkie and I jumped into the car, put my IPod on shuffle, and headed south toward my parent’s house in southern Indiana.  I have always dreaded this drive, especially by myself. But getting up before dawn seems to make it more bearable in light of the fact the most of Chicago is still asleep by the time I see the Sears Tower.  There’s something so magical about the twinkling lights of Chicago at night and an empty freeway.  Add the Beatles, Van Morrison, and the Carpenters (sorry) and life just doesn’t get any better. 

Sometime around 6:30 AM and south of Chicago, one of those magical moments when the stars just line up happened  . . .   The Eagles started serenading me with “Ol’ 55” . . .

“And now the sun’s comin’ up
I’m riding with Lady Luck
Freeways, cars and trucks
Stars beginning to fade
And I lead the parade.”

. . . and over my left shoulder, a gorgeous red rubber ball started to rise over the snowy covered Indiana horizon . . . immediate goose bumps.  My heart skipped a beat.

I started thinking about all of the times I have traveled the corridor on Highway 41 between Chicago and my parents’ home in southern Indiana and of all the different occasions.  In the earliest trips, there was a whiteout snowstorm that turned me white knuckled because my infant twins and their toddler sister were in the backseat.  As the kids got older, I was forced to memorize the lyrics to all of the Raffi songs while throwing red licorice over my shoulder into the backseat to keep everyone quiet.  And when they weren’t quiet, there were the threats of abandonment in a cornfield.  The memories rushed in but what struck me more today was the fact that years later, I was still finding myself inspired by the scenes that kept filling the view from my windshield.  How is it that you can travel the same road over a span of more than 20 years and still be inspired by the sites?  Is there anything more striking than a bare naked tree standing alone in a snow covered field?  It takes my breath away, causes my knees to shake and my heart leaps.   

I’m 56 years old and one of the things that surprises me most about being this age is that the things that caused me to melt when I was 20, still do.  The problem is that I get so busy in the rush of life that I sometimes miss the awe.  But alone in a car with my IPod, a yappy Yorkie and the Indiana flatland that slowly turns to hills, I quickly remember the importance of being inspired by something everyday. 

I’ve decided to start writing today because once again I’ve been inspired by one of my children . . .another consistent source of inspiration for me for the last 30 years.  My daughter has started blogging.  We both talk about writing and we have started entirely too many great projects that are still sitting in our computers half finished.  So I’m going to act on the inspiration of my daughter and see how I do.  Today’s road lesson is to slow my day down, look for the inspiration of the day and then write about it - those moments that will make my heart leap if I will only take the time to look.

Today once again, trees inspire me.  Some stand so straight and tall and others are tilted with the weathering of the wind over the years.  At 56, I wonder if I’m still straight and tall with my roots firmly stretching down into the soil of my past or am I starting to tilt with the wind.  Regardless, my love affair with trees continues.  Some things never change. I’ve swung from them, climbed them, laid underneath them while wishing I could paint like Georgia O’Keefe.   I hope that when I’m 80, I’ll still feel my knees shake when I gaze upon a tree.  My IPod shuffles to Sara Evans . . .

“In a world that keeps turnin’ and movin’ so fast
When you can’t hold on to nothin’ and nothin’ seems to last
It’s so good to know that love still remains
Oh, ain’t you glad that some things never change.”

The view from Highway 41 North of Terre Haute 2.12.11


  1. I didn't know that you liked Sara Evans, Mommy! I'm so glad that you're blogging now! It's turned out to be a good outlet for me. By the way, I'm drunk. I accidentally drank too much Jager with Don. It's taking me forever to write this because I keep messing up. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  2. And it's not 10:25 pm. It's 1:25 am. That timer lied.

  3. Hey mom,

    It's nine am as I write this. Home with Xander today and I'm drunk too. I like my evenings so I get tanked in the morning so I can enjoy them.

    I know how you can still be in awe after driving the same stretch of road after thirty years: its not the same road. They re-pave it every four years or so.

    Also, my favorite tree is a purple beech that's one hundred and eighty years old or so. They're slow growers but by then they're massive and majestic. I want to hug them.

    Thanks for writing.
    Love you.

  4. Well I can always count on you guys for a laugh and a smile. Happy Valentine's Day! Love, Mom