Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Beauty

Fearing the winds would soon whip away the spectacular display of leaves, Gerald wanted to take a road trip Saturday through our beautiful country side.  Sometimes we traveled down roads bordered on both sides with trees sporting crowns of waving yellow and red leaves. Other times, we were separated from the multicolored forests massed on the hillsides beyond the fields. Either way was often breathtaking.

We left before lunch and drove down rural roads towards Tunnel Hill, where so many bicyclists--including our Jeannie--ride down the trail built on the old railroad bed. We didn’t want to spend time that day walking through the tunnel, but I still hope to do that someday.

We drove around a bit there and onto Dixon Springs and Golconda, one of my favorite towns in the whole world—what little bit of the world I have had access to in my lifetime.  I love the many beautiful old homes there, the court house, the wonderful museum the Pope County Historical Society has created, Buel House, and perhaps best of all the lovely Ohio River flowing by.

Once again, I was saddened that the town is letting the mural on the concrete flood wall continue to deteriorate. Golconda served as an entrance to Illinois for the Cherokee on their forced march on the Trail of Tears through our region, and the mural depicts that.  I keep hoping some artist will make it their project to renew that mural.

But we were out to see the leaves that day, and so we didn’t linger in Golconda.  We drove on to Elizabethtown, where we were again on the river.  We ate lunch at one of our favorite area places—the floating E-Town River Restaurant, where we always choose the river fish over the pond raised fish just because it seems more appropriate—not because we really have a preference.  The servings are so generous that you don’t need the extra fish the waitresses keep offering, but they really do mean it when they claim to offer all you can eat.

It must have been quite a while since we had been to Elizabethtown because the restaurant now has a built-on outdoor patio that we did not know about.  I would like to go back next summer and eat there, but it was much too windy to choose to sit there that day. But out there you’d be one with the waves and the passing barges. 

Part of the charm of this small town eatery is the crowded situation with tables so close together that people just naturally talk to folks at nearby tables.  Waitresses crowd through and people bump into one another getting to and from their seats.  Jeans and T shirts are the appropriate attire.  Everyone seems to be laughing and smiling enjoying their families and friends. At a table for six nearest our corner, one young woman was sitting between her young son and her father. I guessed her husband was on the other side of the table.  She looked and listened to these men in her life and seemed so happy to be with the ones she loved.

We walked back over the swaying walk to the shore and drove up the hill and parked again to run into the Rose Hotel for a brief and cheerful visit with Sandy Vinyard, who manages that beautiful place built in 1812.  She had to turn down the couple who stopped in for a room as all her rooms were full, but she helped them get a room at the nearby San Damiano, the Catholic retreat open to the public. While that was happening, we were outside admiring the beautiful tandem bright red motorcycle they were riding.

We traveled on through Garden of the Gods, where we had never seen it so crowded with horse folk and back packers, campers, and just gawkers like us wanting to savor the glory of this season.

Going the new road around Harrisburg, we circled back home with time for rest before we ate the last two bowls of chili from earlier in the week.  I had a funeral visitation for a relative in Goreville that evening, so I hurriedly fixed a couple of angel food cakes (from mixes of course) and fixed a bean salad to go with the garden tomatoes I was going to contribute to our annual church fish fry at Center the next day. 

We thought it might be chilly on Sunday for an outdoor meal in the shelter on the church lawn.  However, the weather turned out absolutely perfect for those working so hard cooking to feed all of us after our Bible study and worship service. So for two days in a row we ate fish and hush puppies, which is  unusual for us, but it tasted as good the second day as the first. The tables were laden with every choice imaginable including. of all things, frog legs! This was my first time to have an opportunity to eat such, and after a mental talk to myself, I did. They are as good as people say.

Best of all, of course, was visiting with friends there—seeing the new baby, watching the children on the play equipment, admiring the pretty teens sitting on a tailgate by the shelter, and watching our pleased pastor eat his special prepared bowl of banana pudding that Peggy Troxell made just for him.  (I suspect this was to gain forgiveness for the way his bowl at the dinner the previous Sunday had a way of disappearing to another table every time he sat it down to talk to someone. So maybe he deserves to be forgiven for his brags about his special private bowl of pudding.)  After we returned to the farm, there was still plenty of time left in the afternoon for rest, and I had a wonderful long visiting phone call from Mary Ellen before I went in to spend the evening with Katherine.




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