We left Arkansas for Tennessee and Alabama – my home places, and on the way out of the driveway I noticed the purple tops of clover and how the vines suckle up a honeyed canopy in the cypress. I took a long deep breath and said goodbye to our green tomatoes and all nine frogs my oldest son had just released. We had worked hard to get loaded up, and then finally we could take off on our long drive.
How long had it been that I stopped all the work work work and propped my feet up on a sunny dashboard?
I woke the next morning in Tennessee and ran out of my bed to greet my aunt who is different now from cancer. We hugged long on the couch, and before the coffee, we whispered I love you. I held on to it. I looked down at our hands together, how the same we are. My closest cousin woke, and we all drank fresh juice, bright as carrot and beet.
We picked a fence row of blackberries and picked seeds from our teeth the whole way to Alabama. We saw how the roadsides have changed. We stopped to play with the baby, and we spread peanut butter on Amish bread with a pocket knife. They asked us, “How long till we get there?”
But I’ve learned by now, even with my four boys whining in the back and with my van smelling like wet mammals and stale bread, the fun isn’t when we get there.
We’re already there. We’re already singing our best songs. We’re already looking in the rearview mirror at the one holding a teddy bear. Seth already holds my hand tightly. We can’t believe our eyes.
Mama and Daddy met us in the driveway. They took off work early. Five-gallon buckets sat in the kitchen floor. He wants us to take as many squash and zucchini home as we can fit with us. Tomorrow he’ll bushhog the potatoes, and we’ll all fill more buckets, and then we’ll get the worms from the refrigerator and go fishing.
When I was young I couldn’t wait to get away from this lifestyle. I always thought there had to be more to life. I never thought I would long for my fingers in the dirt and my hair wet with lake water. I never thought that the greatest thing would be to hear the quiet, my thoughts actually ordering themselves while my feet crunched through gravel on my way to the barn. What pleasure it is to see my daddy work a hobby farm, all the things there are to fix.
I write it out to remember the smell of the driveway and the drive, the morning air with hornets buzzing behind the dew berry bushes. We all have to stop once in a while to gather up these good summer days, no matter how sometimes our hearts can ache. Look around. We are blessed here, even just with this breath.
Tell me where it is you like to go to take a deep breath? Sometimes in my kitchen, fruit stacks in a bowl, and it’s so colorful while the sun goes down. Where are the places you look around and remember how loved you are?
written by Amber HainesLeave a Comment
Some of my favorite memories are from going to BBC in Springfield, MO with my parents. Money was super tight so we had a HUGE garden. I remember going to bed listening to the canner jig. Snapping green beans in a tent in our big back yard in the summer with friends was a blast. I remember going to bed with the sound of the washer & dryer. I
Loved waking up to fresh blueberry muffins that my Mommy would make <3. I'm so happy to have so many memories from those Bible College Days <3
Kathy @ In Quiet Places says
I took a “deep summer breath” when I recently found delight in picking wildflowers from a nearby country field and bringing them back to my house to put in a large mason jar full of water, they brightened my kitchen counter for days, I think I will go back for more!
My deep breath came in the form of a recent weekend getaway to the Texas Hill Country… as a child, it was our yearly summer trip then a several years ago my husband, daughter and I had the privilege of calling it home for a few glorious years. When we got to the Hill Country last month, we were instantly refreshed with the rekindling of wonderful friendships, familiar sites and smells, and just being in awe of God’s handiwork (the Hill Country is amazing in and of itself). See, there was a drought the two years we lived there and the countryside was brittle and dry – brown was the color scheme. As we went for a scenic drive this visit we were amazed at the beauty – since God had watered His land in the past fall and winter abudantly. Every where you looked as far as the eye could see- the land was awash in vibrant yellows, red, oranges, and purples. What a way to recharge. We spent 3 hours on a 5 mile stretch of road we had been down 100’s of times – just enjoying it and soaking in all of God’s awesomeness. What a deep breath.
jan dixey says
Woke up this morning craving a respite from Nashville’s heat and crowds…found it here. Thank you Amber for this cool country breathe of summer without leaving my downtown apartment.
This brought tears to my eyes and the only thing I can think is that I miss home.
I’ve been gone my whole marriage (23 years) and only go back on rare occasions.
I think for me….I miss the familiarity of the ones who KNEW me while growing up. I said all the same things about “getting out of there” when I was growing up. Now, it doesn’t sound so awful. 🙂
Love this post.
this resonates as i sit on a holy mountain in Tennessee. returning to a place important in my journey with God yet in a new way as i seek to be a spiritual leader to 61 others at a summer camp. it is indeed a time that takes my breath away and helps me catch it again. i cannot imagine leaving this beautiful state, the one of my heart.
Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions says
The last couple nights my husband and I have sat out on the back porch for an hour or so. We don’t have a view, or even a very nice yard, but I put on the sprinkler to water the patches that the regular sprinklers dont get and we watch the water go back and forth and somehow this, combined with the sun going down is more than sufficient.
I work from 8-4 and he works from 4-8 and with a toddler and an infant we miss each other all too often.
Just this hour has made SUCH a HUGE difference. I feel closer to him and have really enjoyed the sun being out JUST enough to share this hour from 8-9PM where in the winter its too dark and cold.
Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions says
P.S. my van smells like wet mammals….LOL.
Kerry @ Made For Real says
After a good long sunny rainfall. I love to sit outside after these. Smell the smells and just breathe, like you said. Loved your descriptive post – I was right there with you. 🙂
This is so visual and so beautiful. I had to read it out loud to my daughter. I fell off my lips like poetry.
Beth Williams says
Deep breaths for me come from just sitting on our front or back porch with hubby watching the sun go down. We enjoy listening to quiet–a few moos and some frogs, but mostly just quiet.
It is a wonderful respite from the daily hustle and bustle of medical work.
My places of being loved used to resemble your places. Except mine were in East Texas. My grandparents lived in the country and I too, used to shell peas, shuck corn and snap beans on the front porch. It would always be hot, with a trickle of sweat dripping down your neck. But the tea was cold and the company was the best. And I felt loved. My grandparents are gone on to heaven now, and I miss them like crazy. No more home place to go to anymore, just my memories.
Now my husband and I are the ones to provide the home-and make our own children feel safe and loved there, no matter what life throws their way. But that’s okay. We had good mentors.
My deep breath is at the beach, my favourite beach, Te Horo in New Zealand. It seems like every other beach but I know I can go there summer or winter, rain or shine and God is there waiting for me. I feel it when I take that first deep breath, he fills me up and I am whole again.
Sarah Markley says
i love your poetry-heart dear amber.
your post helped me take a deep breath today. thank you.
On The Way says
I don’t have such a place where I could take a deep breath and just feel alive but I just wanted to stop by and thank you for your post. It’s lovely to read such joy in your words and from those who have already commented.
Maybe one day I’ll find that place, take a deep breath and remember the story you’ve told.
Shelly Miller says
I used to put worms on the hook and fish for blue gill in the lake with my grandpa. He pulled them off the hook and fried them in cornmeal batter for dinner. We stayed in the same tucked away motel in the woods, where the first time you turned the water on, it came out rusty and I slept on a pull out bed in the living room. They were the best memories of my childhood. I was so excited to see you here, its been awhile since you’ve graced us with your words. Enchanting as always Amber. I am breathing deep now.
Diana Trautwein says
Sigh. Breathing deep here. Thank you.
Carrie Taylor says
Ah Sweet Home Alabama!! I LOVE Alabama where I am born and raised and where I get to raise my 2 boys. 🙂
Oh so beautiful. So much tenderness in the remembering, in your remembering. You have been missed. Its good to read your words again. Tender and poetic. Just perfect.
Heather from CT says
I’m a northeast girl through and through so my sights and smells are different, but the feelings are the same. This was beautiful and made me long for the lake in central NY smack in the middle of corn fields and cow pastures.
Kristen Strong says
Beautiful Amber, your words give me deep breath after deep breath. Always have, always will.
I haven’t lived in the South for years, but part of my heart is always there. Thank *you* for giving me this glimpse down memory lane. I love you!
Jen Gunning says
Much to my city-husband’s chagrin, I’m re-creating a mini farm in our cul-de-sac backyard so that my kids will have a taste of what their mom grew up with…first came the garden (the boys are intermittently picking snap peas while catching baseballs as I type), then the old screen door that’s a trellis in the flowerbed. Last month I managed the “coop d’estate” and we now have 8 happy hens in a coop at the back corner of the yard. Later this summer I’ll top it off when my grandparents’ farm bell is installed at the corner of the deck and I can ring the kids in for dinner, just like Grandma did for most of my childhood summers. I still cherish my trips home, 4 hours away in the middle of nowhere, but having these little touchstones right in my backyard is a daily reminder of how loved I was as a child and how loved I am as a wife/mother now, with a husband who allows me to gather the things I love around me. (He’s finally coming around to the chickens…I suspect by fall when they’re laying eggs, he’ll be fully on board 🙂
I like to sit on the bench outside my flat on a summer evening and listen to the birdsong.