3,200 Miles later: Blog entry from Kymberlee
Signs of Change are Here: We arrive in Huntsville on April 20th
So many highlights to our trip, but one that will not be forgotten was our visit to Prescott, Iowa to visit my second cousins James and Marilyn Rychnovsky. It was a visit full of mid-western farm hospitality, learning about my mother’s family’s past that I had never known, visiting gravesights and cemetraries and drawing up my mother’s family tree, visiting the farm house where my mom was raised until she was 14 in Mt.Ayr Iowa, seeing the site where my grandmother spent her childhood in Lenox, Iowa living with her blacksmith step-father, seeing the train tracks where my grandmother’s father was a train conductor through rural Iowa, and staying on the 100 year old Rychnovsky farm house where I visited when I was 7 years old.
I had visited rural Iowa when I was 8 with my mom and brother Brandon, but had not come back since. The Rychnovsky’s were second cousins, but they were treating us like close knit family that had finally come home….and we felt that way too. In their 70’s now, James and Marilyn had raised their five children on that same farm, had over 160 acres that they raised corn, beans, and cattle for 45 years. Marilyn had raised much of their own produce and they both had calloused hands from years of hard work. They since retired, and rented out the acres around them to other farmers to till. They still have their garden, the farm dog, and James takes his dog for a “ride” (not a walk) in the pickup around the miles of farm every morning and evening. Lush and green, the farm smelled like freshly mowed grass and sounded like warbling birds. Everything looked the same as I remembered it thirty five years ago: I remember riding bare back on their horse with four of the cousins (all girls), riding on the tractor, and visiting one of their classrooms as the “California visitor” that came to school. Theirs was an example of a large, close family that was always playing outside, loud with many voices speaking at once, and always laughing. It was a bit of a confirmation for me remembering how much fun it was to play with all the cousins when I was young, and now moving to Alabama/Nashville so Evie can be closer to her cousins too. I remember it felt like one constant playdate opportunity, only it didn’t have to be scheduled two weeks in advance like we do in California.
Marilyn and James told us that they set aside two days to show us around, and that they “had nothing else to do during our visit”….wow. Who has time like that in busy California?. They taught us about how farming has changed in 50 years of farming, and how he used to use combines that had 2 rows, and now they are harvest up to 32 rows at a time. He drove us to the John Deere equipment yard and showed us the old equipment like he used to use sitting in the back of yard rusting. He grieved over the erosion caused by over planting/harvesting without keeping grass areas for drainage and runoff…. He still cares, the land was his livelihood and he wants to preserve it.
Paul and I felt like we were on our own personal marriage retreat visiting with them. Every meal cooked and eaten together with just the four of us talking about family, their children, their faith, 50 years of farming, and how they have divided up the work over the years. They had made a happy life together that worked. One quote that James had about marriage was, “Well, the way I figure it, Marilyn makes all the little decisions, and I make all the big ones…..But so far we haven’t had one big decision yet”. I felt like crying when I left because, as Paul said, “They felt like grandparents to us”. What amazing people.
How I know “Our Times are a Changin’” and we aren’t in California anymore:
- Paul shaved off his scruffy three week beard today and is clean shaven for interviews.
- When we drove into Huntsville, AL, there was a local politician sitting on a chair under his campaign banner mounted on a trailer. He was sitting there waving at all the cars at the intersection under the giant picture of his face and sign with his name on it: wow, only in Alabama.
- Evie went outside to play with her cousins today with no thought of putting on shoes….the cousins all play in the front yard with or without shoes, either way works fine for them.
- Evie said, “I miss my toys and friends”….”I want to go home” last night. It killed me. We talked about the change, and how she felt and she seemed to feel better. She loves her cousins, but I think it is now hitting her that her old house and life is not coming back. I will take her to a little gymnastics class this week and/or dance class since I know she misses it.
- Doodle is finally calming down. He was so anxious each time we would stop the van or get out that he would barely eat. Now he is resting in his bed in our room and back to his normal self.
- Paul is back on his computer: he set up a little “office” space in our room and finally feels grounded and little more back in touch. We had such spotty internet opportunities on the road.
- It rained today, and then it didn’t. Rain comes here like a little commercial to the show, and then goes back to sunshine or whatever happened before it. I laid in the sun for a few minutes this afternoon…and then was rained on in the parking lot when I went to the store an hour later.
- You can’t get avocados on your sandwich at Subway here.
- I had “fried pickles with dill sauce” in Missouri on the way here. It was really good. Loved it. Wanted to figure out how to make the batter and dill sauce.
- You can find “boiled peanuts” for sale in crock pots at the local mini-mart gas station in Tennessee.
- Armadillo road kill. Weird. Enough said.
So I am off to bed now…today was a tough day for Evie, and I hope she sleeps through the night. She was throwing up sick all day from some sort of stomach flu that five of her cousins had in the last week. Her Aunti Donna (Paul’s sister) is a nurse and came over and checked on her. It was great that Donna had seen the course of sickness and could advise me on how it should go away within 24 hours. We’ll see how she is tomorrow.
I think this is my last blog entry…it has been fun to write to y’all….
How do you like that Southern twang?