Today was my birthday and I was given a wonderful gift. I was able to take the day off of work and just drive into the country. That's right, I just left town. But, this is something that I've always wanted to do and it seems have never had the time. And even when I am driving across the state on business, I never have time to stop and just breathe.
I guess the gift I was given was a chance to cross into another time within our time. When the GPS stopped working, I knew I was there.
How do I describe the feeling of escape? The feeling of being free to stop and talk with people, to ask them about their lives. Of being able to take in the colors of rich green pastures, dotted with yellow flowers and a low-humidity blue sky, shining like the reflection from a blue sapphire pearl, unobstructed by power, cable and internet lines.
I found this place in the small town of Maxeys, Georgia. An old remnant of a once prosperous cotton town. One of the lifelong residents told me that as a boy he remembered when there were cotton warehouses all along the railroad tracks. There were banks, stores, doctor's offices and more during those days. And on a regular basis, you could set your clock to the train schedule. Today, the train tracks are gone, replaced by Bradford Pear trees, but as I stood there looking at the old train depot I could imagine hearing the distant whistle of a steam locomotive.
At one point, I was given a tour of the old department store. I entered the now vacant building and as I stood there looking ahead I could see people in 1930s era clothing browsing through clothes and housewares.
Ahead of me was the stairway to the second floor. Pretty much all that was left of the past inside this building. But like an imprint in the sand, all those customers who went up and down those stairs in the past had left a worn spot in each step. Those shoppers of the 1920s and 30s have probably gone on to another place by now, but their imprints remain.
Eventually, I left Maxeys to make my way to down the road and continue my journey. My last stop was at the Watson Covered Bridge. There, I sat and listened to the rushing water as the sun warmed my face. I imagined an old Model T Ford, headlights on, coming through the bridge many years ago.
So, that was the way I spent my 56th birthday. What a wonderful gift!