I don’t like the words “bucket list.” But I do have dreams.
I can’t remember a time when I haven’t loved going for a walk in the woods. Our old farmhouse had an ancient furnace that burned wood and/or coal and our eighty acres of timber provided an ample supply for its hungry iron mouth. My sister and I never turned down an invitation when Dad hitched the wagon to the tractor and went down the road to the woods. We would swing on the grapevines, pick wildflowers, and wander under the cool green canopy for hours.
From the time I first read about the Appalachian Trail, I wanted to hike it. The trail that winds 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine intrigued me. I could imagine the days, weeks and months in the beautiful eastern mountains walking and soaking in the beauty. I could even imagine the solitude, and to an introvert, that sounded lovely, too.
I first walked a small portion of the trail when my husband, Gary, and I camped in Smokey Mountain National Park. That only whetted my appetite.
As I rounded the curve to Old Age, approaching my seventies, I wanted to do something Big. I knew hiking the whole trail was out of the question. I enjoy solitude but only in small portions. Gary doesn’t share my passion for hiking and being gone from him for several months didn’t appeal to me.
So, I conceived the idea. We could pull our camper, I would hike every day, and he would be my shuttle service to and from the trail. Being the amazing husband he is, he agreed. I settled on the portion of the trail in the Shenandoah National Park. There are three campgrounds and the trail crosses the road through the park multiple times.
We began to make serious plans. I bought maps, studied them, and charted my course. Gary looked up the campgrounds and planned when to move our 5th wheel from one campground to another. We even took a trial run to Virginia just to scout things out, but that trip was cut short by Hurricane Isaac. We like to say we were kicked out of the park, but it closed.
I do like solitude, but I also know it is best to hike with a human companion. (I always hike with my short-legged Lab, Molly.) I asked several friends and found a few adventuresome souls willing to accompany me.
On September 9th, 2019, Leigh, Molly, and I will start at Front Royal, the town at the northern edge of the park. After approximately fourteen days, we will have hiked the 106 miles through the park.
And I will have made a dream come to life.
What dreams keep nudging you? We are created in God’s image, and I believe dreams are placed in our souls by our Creator. Don’t push them aside, but take your first step today to make your dream a reality.
Do you remember going to family reunions? This picture is a reunion at Ledges State Park in Iowa in 1952 or 1953. I am the little girl in the chair, deep in conversation with my cousin. In those golden oldie days, family reunions were important. You might attend several over the summer, for all the branches of the family tree.
Food took center stage. Always homemade and always in vast quantities. My mother would bring fried chicken, homemade cookies, orange-pineapple Jell-O salad, and cold lemonade. The food would be spread potluck style on a table, but I always sought out my Mom’s dishes. I preferred safe to experimental.
But the conversations were the main event. Reconnecting, sharing family stories, talking politics with a little arguing, and generous amounts of laughter. While the grownups sat and talked, the children would become reacquainted with cousins we rarely saw and have great adventures. I remember when I was a teenager meeting one cousin from California who tried to teach me to smoke. That was an adventure my parents may never have heard about.
When you are a Christian, you look forward to the best reunion of all. Reconnecting at last with family members who have gone before us, conversation, laughter, food, and, best of all, seeing Jesus face-to-face.
After a lengthy hiatus concentrating on several other things, including finishing three novels, I am back to blogging. My blog, The Storyteller, will be a little bit like a family reunion—a place to connect, a place to share stories, and a place to laugh. I hope you, my readers, will all feel as warm and welcomed as this little curly-headed girl did so many years ago at her family reunion. I can’t promise you a potluck meal, but I will nourish your heart with a story.
And remind you of the hope that includes a family reunion in Heaven for each of us.
Susan Lawrence taught elementary school for 33 years before hanging up her chalkboard to write and speak. She writes novels for both adults and middle grade children. Susan lives in Iowa with her husband and short-legged Lab, Molly. She has 3 children and 7 grandchildren who love to hear her stories.