Monday, July 7, 2008

July 4th Reflections

Welcome rain quenches the thirsty red earth of Aunt Mary and Uncle Jim’s farm in Burgin, Kentucky, where we arrived horn beeping a few days ago. I’ve been coming here periodically my entire life filled with treasured memories of childhood summers, my sisters, brother and I running wild on the farm with cousins Bo, Mike and Ellen. An enduring tradition of Baxter/Dixon reunions continues to this day, fostered largely by the strong “Woodward sister bond” between my mom Ellen and her only sister Mary. Despite great distances, all the cousins of the next generation have gotten to know one another. In addition to seeing family, we’re very much enjoying the home cooked meals harvested mainly from the garden, freshly cleaned clothes and comfy beds of the Baxter Farm. When rains subsided this afternoon, Dave and Will set out looking for Indian rocks (bits of flint arrowheads) in the moist soils of a tobacco patch near a spring at the back of the farm. Each morning Kim eagerly assists Aunt Mary with chores in the horse barn, applying skills developed at Shelburne Farms, and is excited about the opportunity to ride before we leave. Today, Cousin Bo is tending the smoker, slowly cooking pulled pork for a BBQ later this evening. It is so good to be in Kentucky with family this July 4th.

On the way here we stopped at Gettysburg National Military Park arriving coincidentally on July 1; exactly 145 years to-the-day after the start of the 3-day battle that defined the outcome of the Civil War. Less than hour before it closed, we pulled into the brand new $100 million Park Service visitor center, just completed in April. Crowd-control mazes were empty and our family sat with less than a dozen people in the huge theater watching the last orientation film of the day. Timing could not have been better; the place is mobbed during the day! We camped at a rather cheesy private campground near the park; a swimming pool and basketball court its only redeeming features. (Have we mentioned the sports equipment stowed in Philomena? In addition to camping gear, backpacks, sleeping bags, two tents, we have three bikes, a basketball, football, whiffle ball & bat, baseball, wooden bat, four gloves, a badminton set, frisbee, fly rod, jump rope, and kite!)

The next morning we took a somber walk though the National Cemetery where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address among thousands of unmarked graves each waving a small American flag. Before leaving town we found several Vermont monuments on Cemetery Ridge paying respect to the Green Mountain Boys who fought on the front line against Pickett’s charge July 3, 1863. Standing there on that peaceful summer day, imaging the horror and sacrifices that occurred on the battlefield, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the brave forbearers who united our country in the ideals of liberty and freedom. Such patriotic stirrings feel appropriate this Independence Day and too often void when pondering many of current policies and actions.

Today we also find ourselves thinking about folks back home, especially at Shelburne Farms where July 4th always involves lots of varied activity. We can almost hear the office phones ringing asking if the concert shall be moved, and see the carloads of picnickers lining up at the Welcome Center. It’s the first time in a decade that Dave hasn’t been directing concert traffic at the front gate of the Farm and so naturally he called the Welcome Center to check-in on how things were going.

Well, we’d better go, pulled pork barbeque awaits!

1 comment:

Julie from NH said...

Susie Honey, you can write! I love reading about your trip and am so glad I got to see you guys in Conway. I would love to hear more about that Baxter farm - I was always a bit envious when you Dixons got to go there when we were kids.
Looking forward to your next adventure, Love, Julie