Christmas must be here. Bedlam is rampant at the Duff home on Signal Mountain.
Yeh, it’s Saturday. Christmas is not until Tuesday, but a six-year old grand niece and the three-year old identical twin boys that appeared at my sister’s home this afternoon put an exclamation point on the season being in full bloom.
But later in the evening, the quiet has returned. Tommy, Abby, Olivia, Allie, Max, and Culley have gone home. Todd has gone up to the master bedroom to read. Maureen and Sarah are either reading, on the internet, or asleep.
My sister Martha and i sit in the family room with the Christmas music boxes, the new jigsaw puzzle in piles on the work table, the big tree still glowing, and now with the children gone, a fire in the fireplace. Quiet.
My thoughts went back to our getting here, far way from children at Christmas. On our drive from Lebanon to Crossville and then to Signal Mountain, i thought of many things about home. i’m talking about Tennessee, specifically East and Middle Tennessee. That is where i was driving.
It was rainy on both the ride from home in Lebanon to Crossville and the ride from Danny and Toni’s home in Crossville to Signal Mountain. It was lovely.
Bucolic. That’s what i thought as the clouds provided a blanket on the shoulders of the hills and mountains we drove through. The rolling meadows were still green for the most part. The deciduous trees had lost their leaves, leaving them stark with the aspect of loneliness but the pines and the cedars loomed dark green in the vista. Occasionally, there would be a farmhouse with a barn nearby, working places even if the barns and other outbuildings had faded paint and a couple of boards missing. A few had “See Rock City” in white on the black roofs under the faded red barns. Bucolic.
Home, i thought. These folks on those farms are home. It is their life. It is a hard life, no doubt, but simple, and could be self-providing for all if needed. Home. Bucolic. Peace. That’s what i thought.
And i thought of all the people i know who had never seen this part of Tennessee. They would be on the interstates. Yeh, we were too for most of the drive to Crossville. But from Crossville to Pikeville to Dunlap and up the switchbacks to what we call the backside of Signal Mountain, it was all country.
Bucolic. i thought of those folks on those farms and Christmas morning and how they might have a cedar tree like we used to have when the three children would go out to Papa’s farm and chop down the tree and haul it back and pull out the old cardboard boxes from the attic and decorate the tree in the corner of the living room, and wait in anticipation. And how these folks in those farmhouses would have Santa visit even though there was a fire by the hearth, and they would laugh opening gifts and then eat a dinner from mostly things off the farm.
And how after all of the ruckus of the celebration was over, the old man would lean back in his chair by the fire and take a nap, and how the children would play around the tree with their new toys, and how all would be right with the world in this world so far removed from the network and the cars and the four, five, or more lane roads, and the glitter and the lights.
i wish all of you could have taken that ride with me. i think it would be good for all of our souls.