“Slow down!” “There’s a deer!” The words echoed in my head from the last time I drove this woodsy road. It has been exactly one year since I drove these roads last summer. I made the journey from my hometown in Minnesota across the brige of the Minnesota River and suddenly “Welcome to Wisconsin” announced itself across the screen of my Google Maps. I couldn’t help but let a smile spread across my face with excitement and nerves and I envisioned my arrival to my next destination. I was not just crossing a bridge across the Minnesota River, but a bridge into my next season of life: SUMMER CAMP 2019!
As I continued driving, the tall apartment buildings began to fade into bright green meadows and fields of crops flowing with the breeze. The roads slithered into two ways of one lane and the speed signs grew more rare. I raced the clock as my foot pushed the gas pedal a little stronger, knowing the cops were nearly inexistant. The department stores turned into seldom small town mainstreets with a few signature stops. I turned onto a road full of lake lifers and let the tension in my shoulders rest. I have officially made the journey from my college in the city, to a small summer camp in the country. I have been in the countryside of Wisconsin for a couple weeks now and I must acknowledge the change that has taken place.
…In fact, as I rolled down my car windows and took my first breathe of the smog-free air, I remembered what it was like to take trips into town with my fellow camp staff. I remember every time I opened my hill cabin screen door to the sunrising above the lake, and a few dragon flies trying to get inside. I remembered the downtime spent down on the dock, watching the lake ripple with the wind. I remember lying beneath the stars and watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July as a chorus of crickets sang in nature’s orchestra. I remember the occassional camp bunk sqeak whenever I rolled over just before my eyes would close for rest. I am beyond thankful for all that I had the opportunity to experience. Yet, I was reminded of how different these two destinations really are.
The eyes of the city streets open to the welcoming crosswalks, ensuring the safety of thier pedestrians. The work of the businessman is never truly done, while cardboard signs are held up on stoplight corners. The shaking hands behind each one beg passing cars to satisfy their rumbling stomachs. Organized parking lots open space for every bustling traveller. Electric street lights stretch the span of time, as the shops work late into the night and signs fade from “open” to ‘closed”. The news will show crime and shooting, as kids are warned to watch their backs and never walk alone.
The eyes of the country open to see hills and valleys of dirt roads, where the dust rises by the speed of those who drive it. Trees bring more shade than buildings do. They grow tall and strong from generation to generation. The Sun will rise for break of day and hardworking farmers rise to tend to their land. Lake lifers set out into the still of the water when fish will bite thier best. The chores will be finished and the sun will set as the people take to rest with the rythym of God’s design. The weeping willows and free-flowing grasslands beckon out imagination in the minds of the children. Barnyard animals will become close friends and tea party attendants. Homemade treehouses will be a getaway for top secret missions.
The ears of the city open to hear taxi drivers honking at the traffic to keep passengers in time. Sirens of police cars and ambulences echoe over the miles as they zoom past each stop light. Train horns signal thier arrival and depart approaching each station and crossroad. The car radios blazing by with songs from every nation and tongue. The truck driver’s whistling out cat calls to the women of the streets. The restaurants and bars swarm with uncontrolled laughter of college students partying for pleasure. Impatience of pedestrians spread across each crosswalk as voices are made heard towards stoplight traffic. The rumbles of construction machines correcting every swallowing pothole.
The ears of the country open to hear nature’s alarm calls from the chirps of song birds at first sight of the sun. Woodpeckers awake the bark of hollowed trunks with beaks of steady rhythym. Night fall brings out the heavy breathing of hunting brown bears. They pause with a thump to scratch their backs against fallen logs. The white shining moon brings out the howls of hungry coyotes. As I snuggle in and close my eyes for sleep, crickets will speak beyond the whistle of passing traincars. The wind runs through the trees as they rustle side to side. The river flows unstopped and steady as God’s unfailing love.
The mouth of the city opens to the tastes of all cultures and ethnicities. Some will be cooked and some microwaved from the frozen isle of massive groccery stores. The city family will order out for pizza or simply make cold sandwiches from home. All will arrive back home from work and school. They eat in separate times of convenience and spread across the rooms of the house. Sometimes they will be apart and sometimes together, wherever the wind so blows. Morning coffee shops will clench the addiction of many overworked earlyrisers. Restaurants and markets of all places, plates, and spices. Some will crave sizzling grills of mixed spice. Some will crave cuisine separate, simple, and sweet. The palette will be filled once the plenty is chosen.
The mouth of the country opens to the tastes of tradition passed down from generation to generation. Mom’s hot dish with tator tots and celery. This is home of canning the vegetable gardens and fruit orchards, preserving the stories and the nutrients of how their ancestors first settled. Here the kids bake Christmas cookies with Grandma, using her magic cookie cutters. The family dinner is on the table when Dad parks his truck just after work ends at 5pm and the kids walk back from the school bus. They pray together, they eat together. They share about the good, bad, and ugly as vegetables secretly move beneath the table for the dogs satisfaction.
The nose of the city breathes in the scent of every ethnic bar and grill as they set out to invite in customers dressed to the nines from the street. The roasting of fish and chicken emplore out of the windows as your mouth implodes saliva. Sidewalk corners are puffed with the pollutant gusts of gasonline from racecars as every form of transportation races by the stoplights. The fresh rubbery scent of tar stretches beyond it’s confined zone of orange traffic cones. The occassional sweetness of marijuana drifts out of the back of street shops as mainstreet walkers stride by.
The nose of the country breathes in the scent of worms popping out of the ground for a breathe after each rainfall. The current of the lake wifts in piles of murky seaweed and decomposing fish. The stench of horse and cow manure fades in and out as the farmers clean out stalls and spread it amongst their fields. Lakeside campfires vere smoke into the night sky. It is joined with roasted marshmallows and the burning of chopped tree bark. With the cleaning of the cabin eave, a strong stink reveals a map of mice poop that leads to each well-constructed nest.
The hands of the city spreads it’s fingers steel pedestrian stoplight buttons make way for the travellers by foot. Each foot will conquor the concrete of the sidewalks and tar driveways. The hustle to and forth upon the rusted stairways with beams for the gliding hand to rely upon for steady balance. The railings in each train car, held strong by every standing passenger. The spinning glass doors and windows open to the vendors of every store and restaurant. The fingers dance across the office keyboards to keep up with the rate of emails and business meetings. The exchange of money brings each hand to clench the magic of new possessions within each new plastic or paper shopping bag.
The hands of the country spreads it’s fingers to the road dust kicked up outside the open truck window. The coarse horse manes are washed, combed, and sometimes braided. The fingers clench around the heavy strings of hay bails lifted and spread across the pasture. The wooden axe handle chops up each fallen tree for housewarming and bonfire roasting. Every good fisherman wraps live bait around his fishing hook in hopes to catch the best bite. Each kitchen homemaker binds steel lids to mason jardsand twists tight to ensure homecooked meals for winter’s call.
When I pause to let all of my senses fully embrace the magic of each of these destinations, my heart is torn between the both the beauty and hardship of each one. Each of these destinations I have chosen to live or to travel to has had their own demeanor and influenceon me and others who pass through. Yet, each destination has their own struggles and consequence. I have learned that, no matter where you choose to place your feet, it’s all a matter of pausing enough to let your spirit take it all in… So I thought to myself the reason why the suburbs have served me so well…but that’s a story for another day 🙂
Then God said, “Let the water beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas”. And God saw that it was good.
~ Genesis 1: 9-10
So my dear reader, as this well runs dry for today I must ask you this: What destination makes your senses come alive?