Remember back in grade school, all those pictures of America? Pictures of roads and cities and delivery trucks and fields and farms? They showed men in business suits and uniforms or overalls, women wearing aprons over their shirtwaist dresses as they cleaned house, or wearing skirts and jackets as they shopped. Children played in the yard or pulled red wagons down the sidewalk, or held their mother’s hand at the grocery store. The sky is usually a bright blue, clouds are scattered here and there, trees are perfect and regularly spaced. City streets are clean and country roads have fields of corn in straight, long rows. Barns are red and beautiful in the flickering sunlight. Dick and Jane days, that’s what I call them.
Sometimes I’ll catch a glimpse of something perfect, like in those pictures, and I’ll think, “This is a Dick and Jane moment.” I love those moments. Each season brings to mind different pictures, but sometimes I’m too weighed down by life and disappointment to remember to even look. But every so often, like today, I’ll take a step back and look intentionally
Today I saw white pickup trucks in pumpkin fields that still held thousands of pumpkins. A lot of families will be getting a lot of pleasure from those pumpkins. I saw a Skippy peanut butter semi truck with a giant jar of peanut butter staring at me as I drove behind it. I was just about addicted to that delicious looking peanut butter by the time the truck turned off. I wonder how many sandwiches will be taken to schools with peanut butter from that truck. I wonder about the pride and hard work that goes into driving this truck as the truck driver supports himself and perhaps a family by driving the roads of America.
I passed a woman with gray curls and the pedal to the metal of her burgundy Buick as she flew past me on country roads – a farmer’s wife with pressing needs? Is she okay, is her husband okay? Emergencies and frustrations come to all of us, that’s for sure.
I saw women in their sweatshirts and jeans at the department store, and an aging mother asking her daughter if she liked a particular hat. Women still shop in the middle of the day, even on Mondays. And I still love seeing mothers and daughters, of any age, shopping together. I kinda wish they were holding hands.
I saw farms with fields of corn already harvested, while other cornfields stood patient, tall and strong despite the stiff breeze blowing through them. I saw farmhouses with their yards neat and clean, some with signs advertising pies, others eggs or vegetables and one was selling goats. Farmers still love the earth and what it grows and supports. Women still love their farmers and tolerate the work, and they all likely have even more patience and faith in a good harvest and a good God than I do.
I drove a patch of road with a sign that said it is maintained by a group of Girl Scouts. Apparently they had just cleaned up, as fat orange refuse bags still sat on the sides of the road, waiting to be picked up. Girl Scout leaders still volunteer and believe in young girls, and young girls are still learning the value of civic pride and the blessing of giving of self to make this world more pleasant for others. And yes, people are still littering roads with tons of garbage, a fact that still drives me crazy!
I saw a man with white hair sneaking out from beneath his red cap that matched his red coat and his red riding mower. He drove slowly as he cut the grass that sloped in a gully in front of his home. Old men are still retiring, and still have enough gas and know how to mow their lawns and keep their mowers running. There’s something comforting in that.
I saw another older person, a woman, walking up the driveway from her mailbox as she carefully clutched her walker. She accomplished something that others today may not do. She is home, she is walking, the sun still shines down on her within the confines of her more limited world. There is hope in that.
I also saw a young boy skateboarding in a city park. Now, either he was visiting on vacation, is a home schooled student or kids still play hookey. I have no idea exactly how he got to be there, but he is really good at skateboarding. He is young and strong and a risk taker, even if it’s just to skateboard. As long as he doesn’t hurt himself, he’ll likely see more of America’s future than I will. There’s a lot of hope there, too.
We are the fruit of our forefathers and our country. As a whole, we live a life that is still envied the world around. The slice of life I experienced today was still similar to those Dick and Jane days. Take your camera to the cities and rural areas and you’ll capture similar scenes. The geography may have changed, the demographics, the morality, yes, they’ve changed, too. But this is still a beautiful country, no matter how or where you slice it, because the individual parts are still made up of a whole. I still get to live out some very beautiful Dick and Jane days, right here, in America. What a gift.