I remember when my grandparents were alive they would invite my brother and I to our family reunion in a little town called Williamsburg, Kentucky. You would think such a thing would be a kid's worst nightmare. I mean, there was absolutely nothing to do there except watch adults we didn't know talk with adults that we sort of knew.
However, I often find my mind returning to Williamsburg. Though there certainly wasn't anything to do there (even if you were an adult), I enjoyed my stays nonetheless. Of course, I loved spending time with my grandparents: my grandfather with his kind-hearted obliviousness and my grandmother with her smiling sighs. There was an even greater reason than them, however, and that was Williamsburg itself.
Williamsburg is located right in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, and the reunion was always held in mid-October. Try to imagine the transition I took: from the oppressive heat of a muggy Memphis October to the cold and colorful autumn-life of the mountains. That transition alone was reason enough for me to go. I would gladly remain somewhat bored for five days just so I could wake up to the crisp mountain air, back-dropped by the Appalachian foothills, canvases of the colors of fall.
Since my grandparents' deaths, I don't go to Williamsburg anymore, but I still feel its pull. I felt it every time during the late autumn that I sat down in a recliner in the living room to read a book. To my right was a window that revealed a yard covered with leaves of all types, a burning carpet of color, the bed coverings of November. You could argue that God used moments like that to encourage my love of reading. I wouldn't disagree.
I feel the pull whenever I drive down Rust Road on a clear blue-sky day in late October. The trees that flank the roadsides hang down low, their limps limbs holding heavy burdens. As I drive past, the unseen wind would blow and relieve the trees of their burdens, sending a sudden shower of red and gold flakes onto my windshield. It's moments like those that make me feel as though I am outside time, gliding along like a blessed observer of some secret scene that only God, in His perfect omniscience, can see.
As the crushing humid tides of spring and summer begin their looming tyranny, I strive to let my mind glide along those roads and hills as often as possible.
-Jon Vowell (c) 2011