I was born in Iowa. I spent the first years of my life as a kid on the farm. The farm was nothing spectacular…only 80 acres in the heartland of America. The soil was rich and black, watered from the sky and sheltered by the billowing white clouds floating overhead.
I was just a child when we lived there and so life on the farm was more like a dream to me, a Never-Never Land of sorts, where a young boy could ride a horse through the tall prairie grasses in pursuit of imaginary bison or deer. I recall standing in the barnyard with my father (God rest his soul) looking up at a darkening sky with black clouds twisting and turning in a maelstrom of wind and fury, then glancing off to the west to see a funnel cloud marching across the distant farmlands.
To be able to return to one’s roots as an adult, even for a few hours, is a blessing – at least in my case. My childhood, though poor, was a very happy one. The farm house we lived in was small, but I didn’t realize it at the time. As with most things from our earliest years and memories, they take on a size far out of proportion to their real dimensions. It is only when we see them later that we realize that either they shrank or we grew…or both.
Outside the back porch of our farmhouse was a fence and small gate that led to a gentle down-slope which culminated in a line of trees and a fence that separated the farmland from the hillside. My sister and I spent many hours climbing on that fence and countless trips through that gate to play on the hillside, walk to the mulberry tree where we gorged ourselves on mulberries (yes, we stained our clothes with the mulberry juice!) or to take the trash out to the burn-pile (there was no such thing as garbage service on the farms in those days).
Much to my delight, the gate is still there, and when I was there for our family reunion, I took several photos of it, one of which is the featured image today. As I took this photograph, I intentionally blurred the distant objects in favor of a sharper focus on the nearer ones. It seemed to me to be appropriate. As I looked through that open gate, I wondered if the gate was open to beckon me to the past or to the future. In either event, what was visible in the distance was blurred – one by a fading memory and the other by the unknowns of the future that only God holds in His hands.
But, the open gate beckons, calling me to step through and perhaps to once again ride a horse on an imaginary journey through the tall grasses, or to give full-head to the horse as it carries me headlong into the future. Either way, I suspect it shall be a great adventure, one worthy of epic tales and historical renown. Will you join me?
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: The Battle of Gettysburg (Pennsylvania), one of the Civil War’s most crucial combats, began. In the battle Confederate troops led by Gen. Robert E. Lee fought against Union troops led by Gen. George Meade. The battle ended three days later when Confederate troops were forced to retreat back to Virginia.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Whitcomb L. Judson invented the zipper but you may not know why the letters YKK are on most zippers. Here’s why: in 1934, Yoshida Kogyo Kabushililaisha (I’m glad I didn’t have to pronounce that!) was founded. Sixty years later they changed their name to YKK Co. The privately owned firm, headquartered in Japan, now is made up of 80 companies at 206 facilities in 52 countries. Wow! you say? but of course, the demand for zippers is great. YKK makes everything from the dyed fabric around the zipper to the brass used to make the actual device.