Wednesday, March 7, 2007

What You Leave Behind

By Freda Kuykendall
March 04, 2007

I am sure that a large percentage of people have moved at least once in their life. However, I wonder how many have left the SOUTH and moved to Wyoming? I was all ready to go stay with my daughter and wonderful grandchildren, one which I had not had the priviledge of holding, so I packed. I received a call from my son-in law at three in the morning that my daughter was in the Rapid City, SD hospital possibly dying from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. So I packed faster and left on Monday morning to drive from Palmetto, Florida (where I was not happy after a few months) to Newcastle, Wyoming, the cowboy state.

I never thought about what I was leaving behind. My mind was only on getting to my daughter and family. I feel most of us think about leaving behind a lifestyle, a homeplace, a heritage, the mountains, the beach, the streams, the sand, the salt air, the scenic views and much more. Not me! I fully expect to return to all the beauty for a visit one day as I know it will not leave. The scenes may change but my memories will always be so that if I do return, I can still see things through the same eyes. I grew up in the remote area of Madison County, NC and loved it.

However, Asheville NC does have everything to offer and is not remote. Now, you might think that when I say "everything", that I mean nightclubs, parties, food, excellent wines, freshly brewed beer, people, cars, golf, people, stores, people, beauty, people, ugly, people, fresh air, people, pollution, people, condos, townhouses, roads, sirens, hospitals, wonderful doctors, doctors, police, and more people. Well, I don't!!

I moved in with my daughter and truly enjoyed my family but I was missing doing the cleaning, cooking, organizing and sometimes just the peace and quiet of being alone. But that was not what I was missing either. I missed my son and two grandsons in NC, my best friend Judy whom I enjoy working on stained glass with, antiquing, traveling, chatting and much more. But that was not all that I was missing. I missed the old homeplace and my sister who always makes me laugh, even through the worst of times. All this "missing" however, I could requiet somewhat by talking to them on the phone, catching up to all going on back in their world. But again, all that was not what I was missing.

When I moved out from my daughter and into a house of my own, I began cooking again, cleaning, home-making in general and then it hit me..... all the things that I had left behind.

Before leaving NC, I had a huge yard sale, selling many treasures of the present and past but I could not afford to take everything all the way across the country. Lots of dishes, antiques, some "just junk" to most, I sold or gave away. Still, though I missed certain mixing bowls, utensils, and furniture, I knew I could in some way, eventually replace all that.

It is all the little things which I miss most! I miss the smell of the farm when fields are freshly plowed for planting, the cleanliness after a fresh summer rain, wet pine cones, the "sound" of the first snow falling on naked trees, the breath from the nostrils of a horse on a cool morning, milking the cows, walking two steps behind my dad through the hills to fish for mountain trout, helping my mama fix Sunday dinner for the preacher, singing ole timey gospel tunes with Daddy on the front porch swing, watching him spit tobacco on a wasp, or dig dandelions from our yard, seeing tiny little chickens peeking from under fussing mother hens, picking fresh berries knowing Mama was dressed in Daddy's overalls (she never wore pants in the old days so she looked funny), hoeing crops and gardens, picking up arrowheads, picking chincapins on Chincapin Knob, or hazelnuts along streams, stringing beans and pealing peaches with Mama and Daddy, cracking fresh black walnuts for homemade fudge, canning or freezing anything grown, watching Daddy peel an apple without breaking the peeling, having Daddy hand me the best spot of a freshly peeled peach, camping in the Ellen Cove or the great Smoky Mountains, watching the sunrise or set over deep purple ridges, the call of the lonesome dove, the shrill of the redtail as he sails overhead, and the tiny hummingbirds returning in the Spring, and feeding praying mantis crickets on a string. Even though these memories linger, I still miss something else.

I assumed that if we had an INGLES grocery store in the backward mountains of NC, that people all over the country had similar grocery stores. After all, the world is a now small place because of "time" travel. Its takes little time to ship oranges from Israel (which I purchased in Walmart in Mitchell, SD) or apples from China. I wonder how much time it takes to ship flour produced in the United States to any of the 50 states? Well, let me tell you!!! If you decide to move you had better consider packing White Lily Flour, First Colony Coffee Beans, organic sugar, fresh produce which actually has a taste, frozen blackeye peas, butter beans, butter peas, okra, collards, turnip and mustard greens, watermelons, canalope, fresh Georgia sweet potatoes, boiled peanuts, pecans, peaches, sweet tea, NC apples, or any brand besides the Walmart brand of foods. I did not realize that I had almost stepped into the "twilight zone". If you ask for sweet tea in a restaurant, waitresses look at you kinda funny, or if it is butter beans, squash, greesey beans, october beans, crowder peas, or fried okra, well........"That's a southern THANG". It is strange however, that cigarettes (North Carolina produced) beer or alcohol of almost any brand, shape, size, color can be purchased in Wyoming, even cigarettes from India, yet I have to drive 70 miles to the nearest Walmart to choose from TWO brands of whatever. The other grocery stores offer no selections whatsoever so one must "settle". Also, living in one of the largest gas/oil-producing states you would think gas would be cheaper. NOT!!!! One other tiny thing I truly miss is beautifully landscaped yards.

Now Wyoming is a beautiful state though very different from NC. I live in the western foothills of the Black Hills which are wonderful, yet not at all like our dense forests back home with trickling streams full of crawdads, red lizards, and water "skimmers". I like Wyoming, and the "small town" lifestyle here, though people are not as close as we were in our small town back home. People are hard working, and for the most part very high-paid, coal miners, oil field workers, railroad workers, hunters, ranchers with money, ranchers without money, quiet and mostly peaceful. About the only siren we hear is the noon whistle to let all the workers know it is lunch time. I certainly don't miss the sirens and all the crime! We do not have to lock a car door downtown, nor a house door unless we choose too. About the only crimes I hear of are DUI arrests and wrecks because drinking here is a way of life for many. These are all minor compared to my having to do without White Lily Flour. I even wrote the company asking for help. Do you know? They did not even acknowledge my letter. I have since changed to Montana wheat which is truly excellent but still miss the flour I had used for 35 years, since the local mill closed and Mama and Daddy stopped growing wheat for grinding. Though I do plan to live in the west, I do miss much about the southern way of life. Feel free to come visit anytime as it really is a beautiful, senic wonderland worth seeing. Who knows? We may even be growing butter beans when I get through!!

Next time I move, I will think about what I am leaving behind and remember ALL the good things!!!