The joy of my mama’s house, my grandma’s house was in the dirt. There was a path, a cut through to the pond that stretched right down the middle of soybeans on one side and corn on the other. When the corn grew high we couldn’t see my grandma’s house shaded by chinaberry trees. Those days, we’d run through the field, green corn stalks and silky leaves swishing against our skin.
Every year, my daddy planted potatoes and when the weather turned cool, the days shorter it was time to dig. All our hands diggin’ them up at harvest. I remember my daddy holding the little new potatoes, caressing them, dusting off the dirt and then rubbing them smooth before tossing each potato into the washtub.
The Fall before he died was his last harvest. Heather and Austin sat in the dirt, laid in the dirt tumbling around while my daddy, feeble, yet determined supervised the potato digging. The cousins sitting in the field, their bottoms cushioned by the cool, damp autumn soil.
Little fingers sifting through the sand, enamored by its touch.
The cool, smooth pieces of home.
We moved away after daddy died; but, came back to grandma’s most weekends. We’d pack up and make the trip winding roads from Carolina to Georgia just to be in the country with grandma.
To run in the fields, fish off the dock, play tricks on grandma’s scavenger dog, Sunny.
Mama kept telling us the County was going to be paving the road. She’d say, “These people have raised enough hell, and running up and down the roads driving too fast, I guess they’ll get what they want!” But, months and years went by and we still walked to the creek run-around and picked blackberries in the deep ditches. Heather learning to drive as we explored the hills, curves and valleys on the dirt roads of Peacock Hill.
Mama warned us one day they had paved the roads. “You’ll see next time you come”. She tried to prepare us, describe the way the road had changed and how there were no more curves but stop signs and markers for my granddaddy’s road, “W.D. Peacock Rd.”
So. we hit the road to Georgia, to the house set back on the pond, down twisting dirt road off the highway, following the path to grandma’s .
Making our usual turn off the Highway 80, it just got quiet in the car. Time stopped, the wheels turned and the car moved, tentatively as we mourned the road. Usually, I’d switch drivers, running around the back off the car, skipping along, passing Heather on the way to let her take my place behind the wheel or Austin sometimes would plop in my lap, steering.
But, the fascination gone now, we drove on like good, city travelers on a busy highway, my children behaving like a trip to school or the Dr. or even to church.
Resigned to accept the change, the journey had lost its joy.
Not the destination though, grandma’s house…at the end of the rutted, filled with washed out gulleys from rain, bumpy slow going path through the soybeans.
We lingered on the dirt driveway, bouncing along, falling into each other with every dip, slower, more intentional than usual.
Our brief time on the dirt road…our glorious dirt road home
Prompted earlier to think of home, to write about home, http://jenniferdukeslee.com