Sandefur Crossing, Mr. G, and Bringing home the Birds

It’s been a wonderful wild and woolly week away from the hometown and start of the school year. Even though in many ways this is NOT the week to leave home, the fixed occasion of my mother’s rural Kentucky high school reunion encourages this trip transpire with ease. Again it was my privilege to drive the 3 eighty-something ladies down peaceful US Highway 41, watching the Indiana corn (quite dry), beans (a bit better), and landscape unfold until we cross those big steel girders and head over the great Ohio River (barges parked).

We make our annual visits to cemeteries, the nursing home, and the family farm. It was while winding our way to the latter that I spied the sign “Sandefur Crossing,” just one of the many little roads down here. Often named for those who lived, or still live there, they and their signs hail decades gone by. You can almost see the children who walked them, and sense all the cars that once they came, drove these hills to good times and through bad.

The reunion itself is always enjoyable; the proud 6 attendees of the Class of ’42 looked quite spry and full of fun (even if the Elvis impersonator ran a bit long). To my happy surprise, I had a reunion of my own, for there in the midst of it all was a couple from here, north of Boston. Turns out they were among the last graduates of this same school, before its demise and creating the new regional school.

And so we fast forward to the flight home, and Alan Lightman’s new novel,  Mr. G. If I didn’t know whether it was 1942 or 2012 before opening it, consider how it has us travel back to Creation, as Lightman uses his physics to describe “Creating” from God’s point of view. The six hour flight delay made it easy to finish, but stay lost in my time tunnel. School started, you say?!

Now back on my commuter train, I’m still struck by one of my favorite night images.  It is the way the birds appear on the horizon of O’Hare,  one after the other, in a well spaced line, flying home to roost. Just as one lands, another appears. Each one is returning laden with people, stories, and places visited in space and time, traveled in person and also through mind. Will this be the last one down, I wonder, as time creeps up to late evening? No way: here comes another one there, and there, and there…

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