To get caught up, check out Part 1 in this series, Keturah's Fast and My Unexpected Road Trip.
My car and the clock did indeed move forward that first day on the road. Both of them barreled across west Texas towards my first stop in Fort Worth, the city where I grew up and where my parents still call home. In some sense, the car seemed to move with its own beastly agency; I was just its stubborn cargo in the driver's seat - shell-shocked and sad, albeit resolute.
I recalled the first line in Keturah's entry for February 7th, 1972: I'm still somewhat in a daze.
Although the car's movement paused very few times that day, I did insist on a break at a funky roadside diner around Amarillo for fried okra. The young counter girl eyed me with curiosity as I sat at the booth, alone, eating a simple meal of okra and ranch dressing. Staring out at the care, I took stock of my traveling companions…
They were the things I dared not put on moving trucks - Keturah’s and my diaries, a box of quilts, my baby blanket made by my grandmother, the fabric a print of Amish girls in bonnets.
My woven basket sat in the passenger seat, buckled up because its weight was setting off the “Buckle Up Please” sensor. Over the years, that basket's belly has carried so many memories – garnet yams for a first date curry, a bottle of red wine for dinner party hosts, chocolate chip cookie ingredients. People’s eyes always light up at its arrival. Children tend to swoon… a colorful woven basket is the sweet promise of surprises.
16 oz. Indonesian coffee, ground for an aeropress
In the backseat of the Subaru was a cooler - the old, dingy one I borrowed to pack the pint-sized mason jars of leaf lard I'd so lovingly rendered myself. Fearful the lard would somehow spoil during the drive, I fed the cooler ice cubes at my few stops as though it were some starving child.
With great irrationality, these were the things I clung to tightly as I drove. Isn’t this what we all do, with greater or lesser novelty? Move through life, holding close the things we consider dear? Mennonites are notorious for simple living, but even we have our precious ties to the tangible things that shape us.
**Special Thanks to my nephew Zeke who joined me in the photo shoots... lard never looked better.
And stay tuned for Part 3... My dearest friend Shanda jumps in the car and we head to New Orleans!