Or is it “’Show me,’ my state,” “show me my state” or some other combination of letters and punctuation? Only time will tell, I guess.
On Saturday, April 28 at 12:58 p.m., I crossed the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Missouri, one of hundreds of times I’ve crossed the Big Muddy on bridges barely big enough for two cars or large enough for several. One time, I went across on a ferry.
I’ve crossed where the river was narrow and where it was wide, with its waters calm as one of those mirrors under a blown-glass figurine, or so rough they seem to holler out, “Only a fool dare launch a boat on me now.”
I’ve seen it low when the rains don’t come and miles beyond its banks when a combination of thawing winter ice and snow and spring rains had it overflowing. I’ve crossed it when ice was just beginning to form and when it was frozen so solid not even the hardiest tugboat could make its way downstream.
I’ve crossed the Mis-sis-sippi as a wide-eyed child, a mom of big-eyed daughters, a college student headed, plastic mug in hand, for a kegger across the water, a grandma fetching dropped sippy cups from under a van seat. I’ve crossed it as a six-year-old and will soon cross it as a sixty-year old. I even tried to ski on it once, but forgot to let go of the rope. Let’s pretend I didn’t share that tale.
Every time I’ve ventured across the Mississippi River or stepped foot into it, from the uppermost tip of Iowa to the southern-most point where its waters lap against Illinois shores, I’ve done so as a resident of the Land of Lincoln, where I was born and many of my ancestors are buried.
This time was different. As I looked at the green sign, perched on the bridge overlooking Mark Twain’s hometown, with its words, “Missouri State Line,” I was, for the first time, entering the state as a full-time Missouri resident. Yep, that’s right. After talking about it for 20 years, spending a weekend here or a week there in the “Show Me state” for all but a half dozen of those years, we’ve finally moved every dish, dresser and drill bit we own to its new home on the Lake of the Ozarks in mid-Missouri.
It’s a place where, on a vacation from our jobs in retail and wholesale management more 22 years ago, my husband and I found ourselves sleeping eight hours straight without tossing or turning once, with no phone calls about a computer that wouldn’t run a day-end report at 2 a.m. or a milk truck that wouldn’t start at 4:30 in the morning. It’s a place where we’ve found calm and tranquility instead of hustle, bustle and stress. It’s the state where we look forward to growing old together.
So, if you’ve noticed my irregular presence in the blogosphere these last few weeks, now you know the reason. Purging closets, packing boxes and polishing our old home for its new residents kind of took precedence over putting words on paper.
And, for the first time in 15 years, I no longer live a few miles from Route 66, the Mother Road. I suppose I could change the name of this blog to “Musings off Route 66,” or to “Missouri Musings,” or to “Reflections ‘Long Side a Lake,” but instead, it will continue to be what it’s been all along – a column conceived on early morning and late afternoon drives on that historic road and penned today whenever and wherever those same types of musings touch me. It will ever be “Musings on Route 66,” for they’re defined not by a geographic place, but by a state of mind.
But, as my new state “shows me” all kinds of things I never knew about it, unfolds its beauty, wildflowers and wildlife to me anew each day, and teaches me lessons I need to learn, I’ll share them here as enthusiastically as I shared tales of the 16th President on my Lincoln Buff 2 blog during the bicentennial celebration of his birth.
Don’t worry. I won’t leave the musings about my birth state, its history and literature behind. I’m kind of hoping that living here opens my eyes even wider so I can show you both of my home states, their stories and their people with all of the wonder they’ve held for me for the last six decades.
I’d love it if you’d come along for the adventure.