Serpent Blog

I am going back to Nebraska. I was there one time, on my second journey cross country. I had with me then my dog and two cats.

I pulled over at a truck-stop off of I-80, probably just inside Kimball County. I remember it was a Sunday morning but the place was packed. I sat alone of course, but I was the only one doing so. Whole families had gathered here for what seemed a weekly tradition. Mostly the folks were older. They looked to be sturdy people. The men were likely farmers, their wives hard-working motherís. The men wore foam ball-caps and chewed toothpicks. I could see their hands were broken, their joints swollen. They walked hunched over, nursing various ailments of the back and hips.

The restaurant was a bustling hive of chatter and joy. I had eggs and bacon and coffee and juice, and they were fine. I was treated well and served fast and finished before I wanted to, because in this little corner of nowhere was where I wished to stay.

The men and women I watched were animated in their gestures and interested in each otherís words. Their were children there Ė young men and young women, and babies and all wore smiles beneath a veneer of resolve.

Why can I not forget this, my first moment in Nebraska? I know it had something to do with the people. They were alive in ways I donít observe in other places. Not a single one of them looked angry, lonely, stressed, bitter or concerned with anything at all that was not occurring right in front of their eyes at their table. The place had the feeling of some bingo night gathering, with all camaraderie and personality of a church picnic.

Why do I remember this? Because these folks cared about each other. They were, clearly, a community. They enjoyed being together. And for thirty minutes they made me feel, not so much a part of them, but certainly welcome.

I can still remember the color of the sky and the color of the surrounding fields that morning. It was a slate-gray snow sky. The fields were a rich kelpy green. It was a chilly morning when I stepped back outside to continue with my journey east. I turned up the collar of my coat and moved on.

This Sunday I go back to Nebraska, with my heart as wide open as the plainÖ

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