Eastern Nebraska is flat with gentle rolling hills. I broke in my hiking boots walking in town in the winter. The first time I went out, I bundled up and promptly did the nasty: sweat. Thereafter, I layered. When the weather warmed up, I walked two miles to the cemetery to water the flowers. Papa came to pick me up, but hesitated telling anyone he went to the cemetery to collect his wife. In my fifteenth mile, I walked a hole in one sock.
Growing stronger by the day, I took to the countryside with the walking stick Papa made. A man from the area offered me a ride. I declined. "But, you're miles from anywhere."
"I know. It's where I need to be." I smiled and kept walking. He drove off shaking his head and muttering something about "women." I needed to strengthen my body and grow accustomed to solitary effort.
Donna's job with the Forest Service conditioned her. She applied for our permits in March. In the summer she received confirmation of three-day passes for September, and learned that people doing the mule ride make reservations up to two years in advance.
At a walking pace, I discovered a mouse house in a discarded pop can. Yellow, sweet-smelling wild flowers from the ditch graced our table and reminded us of the slower, sit-on-the-porch, way of life. I appreciated everything and everyone more.
Watching the sweetcorn grow from a sprout, I knew by the smell when it was ready to eat. The racoons did too and staged late-nite heists. If I'd walked at night, I could have heard the leaves twist and pop as the corn grew, but might not have heard the tricksters at work. Anticipating fresh corn for dinner, I picked up the pace back to town to shop at the Farmer's Market and also buy Lillian's fruit-filled kolaches.
My kolache recipe makes ninety and takes all day. Now I buy them from Lillian who's baked them for over seventy years. Her kitchen has yeast in the air which benefits each new batch. Author William Faulkner took his office doorknob with him when he went in to work. Lillian uses a doorknob to make the indentation in the dough for the filling.
Right now I wish I had a doorknob I could turn, write undisturbed, and eat kolaches to my heart's content: apricot, cherry, prune, poppyseed, strawberry-rhubarb, apple, cottage cheese and raisins, and peach. With some lunch meat, I could hole up for days.
It's not to be. I can't stop walking and write now, I'll do that after the trip. I must keep walking. I've darned my "hole-in-one" and another. We're at count-down. I leave for Donna's in ten days.
copyright 2005 Red Convertible Travel Series