WHERE TIME STANDS STILL – THE HEARTLAND

In the deep recesses of my mind, tucked in a well-protected crevasse is Heartland. Memories of my boyhood reside there. It is a place where a boy’s picturesque view of his world makes time stand still. I do not often go there, but when I do a warm memory always welcomes me. Let’s go there now. My first memory of boyhood is waiting for us.

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The moving truck, fresh off highway 2 from Des Moines, snakes up the long, tree-lined driveway. The cinders carpeting the highway crack and pop with each turn of the truck’s wheels. Every crack and pop heralds my family’s arrival to the rural, south central Iowa town of Corydon and the Victorian-era parsonage that is our new home.

I stand on the back porch of the parsonage surveying the scene that now plays out before my five-year-old eyes. Pamela, my older sister by three years, stands beside me. Out on the yard, Dad and Mom—Reverend Mark and Murrell—mingle with the church ladies, neighbors and curiosity seekers who are here to welcome the new Methodist minister to town. The neighbor kids John and Julie, Dennis and David, Alan and Debbie watch the truck inch up the drive. We sneak glances of each other; in anticipation of the future adventures we will share.

Everyone is sweating. There is reason to sweat. This is Iowa. It is July, humid, and 92 degrees.

The sweat drenched moving men wave, point, and whistle as they guide the truck ever closer to the house. I watch keenly. The truck holds my most prized possession, an eleven-foot boat that Dad made me for my fourth birthday. The boat is not much to look at—plywood sides, pointed bow, blunt stern, a covered cabin midway, and no bottom. Yet in it I sail the high seas of my imagination. Sword in hand, Odessa-like I fight countless battles, prevail over imagined enemies, and conquer strange lands.

Tired of waiting for the unloading to begin, and my boat to finally arrive, I think back to Des Moines and the chaotic load-out two days ago. I picture the church members bidding tearful farewell to their young minister and his family while their kids and I play hide-and-seek. The church ladies are there, with their family pride recipes, offering up fried chicken and God only knows how many permutations of deviled eggs, Jell-O, and desserts—cakes, bars, and cookies. Dad, serious about the ministrations of his flock, does what any good minister would do. He samples every dish, talks with every person, and shakes every hand.

The packers start boxing up things early that morning. The moving men began carrying boxes to the truck soon after. They bobbed and weaved though the faithful flock as they did.

By mid-afternoon, everything from the house and garage is in the truck. Eager to hit the road, but not wanting to interrupt the farewells, be hugged or prayed upon, the boss mover, looking at me, says, “Does that boat thing go?” I look at him, smile, and say, “YES.”

He orders the men to hoist the boat aboard the truck. Then tells them to close and lock the rear doors. Into the cab they crawl, gobs of food in hand. Next stop Corydon. Soon after, Dad and Mom put Pamela and I (and a bunch of food) in the family car. With Dad at the wheel, we too head to Corydon.

“Stop,” yells the mover. With that, my thoughts return to Corydon, the parsonage, and the truck at its back door. Dad and Mom stand at the rear of the truck, eager to re-connect with their belongings. Neighbors and church members surround Dad and Mom, curious about what those belongings might be.

Ceremoniously the movers unlock the truck door. As they open the doors the hinges, lacking grease, squeal like piglets. When daylight touches the boat an audible gasp from my Dad silences the squeals. Why is that thing here? The cost of moving it far exceeds that of the nails and wood (but not my valuable memories).

Dad looks at the boss mover. The boss mover points his finger at me. Everyone turns in my direction. I smile my best five-year old smile. Laughter ripples through the crowd. I feign a laugh, knowing that in the chaos of the move I had seized the day, saved my boat, and begun my adventure in the Heartland.

Mark


Note: This is the first post in the Heartland Series. Please click the follow button on the right side of the blog page to be notified of future posts.

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