Friday, October 04, 2013

A Season of Change

As I looked out the living room windows, two scarlet patches of leaves were there in the midst of the green to delight me. A tree that Gerald planted over 11 years ago.    Looking out the kitchen window across the driveway and behind the garden, tall brown corn awaits the combine.  On down the lane, our neighbor’s lush green soybean plot is pleasingly speckled with yellow leaves. Everything is changing for the end of this growing season and  preparing for winter’s rest.
Brian and Mary Ellen are working as fast as they can to gather this summer’s corn crop with  its over-the-top yields.  After last summer’s drought, they are rejoicing over these abundant results from their hard work.  
Mary Ellen has learned to drive the pickup with the trailer behind pulling the golden grains to the market. This is not easy to do, and she was fearful at the prospect.  Yet that did not stop her from jumping in to assist in this way.  Brian put new tires on the trailer so that she did not have to fear a blow-out that might very well topple a wagon. 
I am amazed that she has been able to quickly learn this new skill, but I should not be.  One adjective I have used to describe her since she was a little child is the word “competent.”  Need rice crispy treats?  Little Mary Ellen was good at it.  Need your hair fixed?  Mary Ellen could do it.  Drive a tractor?  Mary Ellen did.  Sew a garment?  She did it all the time.  Make a gift?  Her craft skills were fine.  Need a pianist?  Yes, Mary you out.  Or a soloist?  Sure.  She was always my helper in so many ways.
In college, she shone in ag communication classes and organizations. She even took one semester out to work as a secretary.  After graduation in the middle of a recession, she went right to work as a reporter on our local newspaper, and took and developed photographs as needed leaving the old Marion Daily Republican building in the middle of the night if necessary to meet a deadline. It scared me to death but did not faze her.  But, of course, she wanted a better job with benefits and advancement possibilities.
No agriculture jobs were available with the ag crisis going on, so she gave up looking for the  better job in Illinois, and she decided on a move to Nashville, where she  joined her sister Katherine.  That was a great place for someone who loved music as both those daughters did.  Temporarily she stayed in Katherine’s apartment and took temporary jobs, where I am sure she was appreciated for her competence by that agency.  Soon she was hired as a writer for Tennessee Magazine.  And eventually she was editor.  She was enjoying her success and the travels it provided her and all the fascinating people she met, and then her former boyfriend came back into the picture. 
I had it in my head that the boyfriend might be giving her an engagement ring that Christmas at Pondside Farm, but that didn’t happen.  What did happen is he gave her the ring down in Nashville; and on New Year’s Eve,  she called us to say that they were being married that night in the chapel on Music Row. They had just decided.
Should we drive down?  No, Brian’s mother was much too far away to make it from New York and maybe it would be fairer if we didn’t come either.  His cousin and fiancĂ© were in town from Florida  to offer support, and her girl friends were helping her with flowers and cake.  She had time for a whirlwind shopping trip, and she looked gorgeous in her short two-piece wedding dress in the beautiful photos that they had to share with us.
We had an exciting family celebration  when they came up for the weekend at Pondside Farm.  From there, Brian had to go back to northern Illinois where he was working in his home area, and Jeannie sweetly drove Mary Ellen back to Nashville.  That long-distance marriage did not last long until phone and flight bills made it easy for them to decide they wanted to be together more than on the weekend, so Brian moved down to look for work there.  That did not last long either because Brian was offered a full-time job with DeKalb that he had been seeking, and were soon settled in Iowa.
As Brian advanced in his career, there were moves from Iowa, where their two children were born, to Michigan to Indiana to St. Louis, and finally to their country home five miles south of Waggoner and its population of 250 while Brian worked north of Springfield.  So there were lots of houses for Mary Ellen to decorate and settle in, many schools to help her children adjust to, family medical needs to be attended to, and eventually a successful real estate career that had to  be aborted with the move to Waggoner and then rebuilt in Springfield, where she continued developing her public relations skills and experience, which she always had a talent for. . 
Now with their two children starting their own adult lives, Mary Ellen is back in her home rural community with Brian working in an office in their home and driving into St. Louis when necessary.   For the moment, Mary Ellen is a homemaker and a truck driver, who still likes to help me out carrying in a meat loaf or slow-cooked ribs or sharing egg salad she said they would get tired of.  It is so fun to have her nearby to talk to and to see what new thing she has achieved with the home they have moved into. 
Until harvest is over, she is sharing this busy season with her husband.  Brianna was home for Murray State’s fall break, and she rode the truck with Mary Ellen while they caught up with Brianna’s news about life as a college freshman, What will be next?    More real estate?  She is good at that.  Another move if Brian’s work calls for it?  She’s good at moving too and making friends wherever she goes.  A completely different career?  Whatever it is, I know from past experience that she will be quite competent. 

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