It has been a busy week and half including too many hours traveling and too few sleeping—and posting to this blog. We spent some much needed time in Illinois introducing the baby to her farmer roots and to all her extended family and friends. I debated names for the trip like the Farmer’s Daughter Tour or Willa Goes West, but the Whirlwind Weekend would be the most fitting option. It was a busy blur of first snuggles, playing with cousins, and getting to know Mr. L’s hometown a little better.
If you were to ask me 10 years ago I never would have imagined that one of the places I would frequent in coming years would be the little town of Kirkwood in west-central Illinois. The closest metropolitan area is the Quad Cities. Haven’t heard of them? Neither had I until I wound up living in the middle of flyover country in Des Moines, Iowa and met the man I was going to marry. Now several years later we visit his family—and Kirkwood—several times a year. Kirkwood has a population of 700 and like many small Midwestern farm towns it seems more like a community than a town. What it lacks in size it makes up for in interesting old houses, peaceful churches, and a library which looks like it hasn’t changed in decades.
As well as indications that this is farm country.
The best part about trips home for Mr. L (Midwesterner) and me (Southerner) is that we both get to learn a little more about the other. Now that our daughter is also making these trips home with us we find the urge to cram several memories into one quick walk around town or an hour at the park, all the while knowing that our memories can’t ever mean the same to her. For Mr. L his childhood memories are of long open roads lined with fields that reflected the season: Green with crops in the summer, amber in the fall, white with snow in the winter, and turned over and black in the spring. This fresh ground is how Willa Claire first met Kirkwood. Driving down the seemingly endless roads the air smelled like dirt—something I did not pick up on until Mr. L and his mom mentioned it. This smell reminded them of their late father/grandfather, Leo, who would come in from working on the farm smelling of the rich soil he spent his entire life planting and harvesting on. While Willa Claire may not remember this trip to Illinois, these first smells of dirt and seed and livestock are taking hold in her memory and will one day, after several years of playing with cousins in the little town of Kirkwood, smell like childhood.