Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Traveling and Thinking

My crankiness about the yard invaders was probably misplaced fear and anxiety. I was preparing for my week long visit to my friends, the Spradlins, in Ashland, Missouri. It was an amazing trip on levels I'm still trying to process. Ann Spradlin has been my girlfriend since the first grade (she thinks it was kindergarten...frankly, we aren't sure.) At any rate, we've known each other most of our lives, and have remained in contact, even after we both fled Woodstock in our teens. She's terminally ill and I became determined to visit even though I'm not a huge fan of car trips, especially alone in the dead of winter. But my first stop was Rockford where I got a rental, so at least worrying about breakdowns could be ticked off my anxiety list. (Excellent idea as my truck was towed to a repair shop even as I was preparing for my trip.)

Illinois is a very "tall" state in that I live way up north, nearly in Wisconsin....Missouri is west of its southern end. It's a long drive but with Dakota's reminders (yes, I took the dog) we got out and stretched on a regular schedule.

Ann's husband, Steve, insisted that we go into tourist mode and do some sight seeing and gallery hopping in the area. What a wonderful environment all along the Missouri river and then the urban area of Columbia, MO, with its colleges and vibrant youth culture. Very nice contrasts of old, antique villages and architecture, vineyards and back roads with a thriving city.

So what's with the acorn? This is last year's fruit from a burr oak. Not just any burr oak, but a tree calculated to be about 450 years old, still standing proud. It's on private land growing between a country road and an agricultural field. Its size and shape are magnificent.

Truthfully, it's easier to think about an ancient tree right now than to find the thoughts and words to deal with my fifty plus years of knowing Ann. I trust than in due time I'll find words--or more likely, forms and images--to explain all my insights and feelings. It just takes time and patience.

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