Golden Anniversary is cause for celebration and joy, always beginning first with Mass and then... dancing! This place where a crimson church steeple rises tall out of the dusty cotton fields surrounding it. A place where well worn cowboy hats line the back of the church, waiting to be retrieved by their owners who humbly bow their bared heads in the presence of the Lord of the Churning Seas and Scorching Skies. Where everyone knows who your mother is because you look "just like Margie" and everyone knows (and loves) Margie!
This place is a special place.
Grownup cousins can reconnect here and young cousins can make new connections; nobody cares how many times removed they are. Leave that to the genealogists to figure out. The most important family tree is the one with the tire swing!
In this place, a liberated donkey and a miniature horse can race alongside your car, even daring to dart out in front of you and nobody bats an eye including the owner who watches from the opened gate, waiting patiently for their return.
This is a place where a dream house and a long pier are the reward for the patient man who spent his working years building up a hardware store and a restaurant to serve his neighbors and his family in this tiny little town with one stop light. We passed by those empty buildings sighing to be remembered. Their spirit is gone, but his lives on. His weathered skin crinkles around his sparkling eyes as he shows us the projects of his retirement years. Gorgeous bird houses, tile mosaics, sculpted arches, hand hewn benches... a working man never really stops working.
I don't have pictures to share because I was too busy reabsorbing this place; taking it in and committing it to non-digital memory. It might be a while before we make it back.
Please don't mistake my unusually flowery language for treacly sweet romanticism... there was plenty of frustration involved in a long road trip of this kind. I am choosing to focus the lens of my mind on the beautiful.
Watching my children dance a *Grand March, skip rocks on the bay, collect seashells (that had been secretly scattered by the doting great aunt and uncle who live on this stretch of beach) and play with the children of the children I played with as a child did my heart good. The heat, the car sickness, the invasion of giant green grasshoppers and the exhaustion can take a back seat for right now. : )
*If you have never experienced a Grand March, then you have missed out on one of life's joys! It is a truly celebratory experience! Everyone lines up with a partner and you promenade around the dance floor in varying patterns until eventually everyone spirals in, drops off the bride and groom in the center and then spirals back out surrounding the happy couple as they dance their first dance. You can see one version of a Grand March here or here but in our family, it's significantly less stuffy and a whole lot more country!
Photo credit: The church as seen from the cotton field by John Troesser, July 2001