Pheasants In Flight
In the month of October each year when growing up, we planned to spend a weekend with our grandparents and relatives in the thumb area of Michigan. We would start out on a well traveled highway from the City, until an hour away from our destination Dad would take the back roads to the area where he and Mother were from.
Riding by dormant fields, already harvested for the winter, remains of summer corn stalks were still visible. Tall silos were filled with the wealth of hard work. Many farmers had pumpkins and squash in the garden close to their homes, while hay bales were bundled and stacked away for another season.
Smoke would fill the air as we drove through the country. Leaves which had been radiant in color were now being burned along with dead brush under the watchful eye of someone who waved as we drove by. Chimney smoke reminded us the area we were visiting was colder than the City, and fireplaces in homes were heated as the months would soon turn to cooler winter days.
While riding along the country road, the trees stood tall and regal, heavily decorated with a mass of fallen leaves that lay on the ground against their mighty trunk. Perched on a limb high above, we could see the birds of the season, the pheasants, and watch as they took flight, their graceful wings in motion and along with their mates, gliding to a hidden area away from the eyes of a hunter.
Upon arrival, our grandparents always had a pumpkin glowing with a smile. It might be weeks before Halloween, but Grandpa grew a supply of pie pumpkins and cooked the seeds with salt for us to eat. Often the small town would have a homecoming parade on Saturday morning, and we’d eagerly walk the two blocks to the main street area where the school band would start off the festivities.
Shop keepers and store owners would all come out of their establishments and greet the folks from town and the country who came to watch the parade. Often a speaker would make announcements from a small platform. The town Lion’s Club would have a tent set up with a pig roast and all the trimmings. Church women’s groups would have a variety of desserts laid out on tables with colorful cloths along the sidewalk to raise funds for a special cause. Children played together and adults talked. This was one of the few occasions people could take time away from their work to be together. What fun it was! Before day break, early in the morning, Dad would meet some of the men and they would go to an area owned by family, and wait for pheasants in flight. Although pheasant tasted good, I secretly hoped they would let the beautiful birds fly. They belonged in this area gliding toward the blue sky.
Homecoming parades, a county fair, the harvest moon, picking fall apples and fun gatherings of a small town, were as special as the empty cornfields, sunshine glistening on the last colorful leaves and the beauty of pheasants in flight.
All of these things are safely guarded in the place where memories are stored, as time goes by and the events of days past become more precious to me. When I married and we raised our family, fall trips to pumpkin patches and cider mills where fresh donuts were made, and apples dipped in caramel, became a yearly event. Each generation does things differently, and each child captures in their own mind favorite memories to pass down. Whenever I drive along a country road, I often picture scenes from the small towns where my grandparents lived in Michigan, and where a simple beauty with so much love was part of a special harvest.
~ Diane Dean White ~
Diane is the author of Beach Walks and Carolina in the Morning, a former newspaper reporter, and weekly magazine columnist whose stories have appeared in a number of books, magazines and other publications and anthologies. She is a member of ACFW, and resides in Florida with her husband of forty-one years. They are parents of three grown children and three grandchildren. Diane’s new book On a Summer Night is due to release in October 2013.You can read more of Diane's writing on her website: www.DianeDeanWhite.com