“Look over there, Maggie-it’s a herd of deer! Now that’s sure something we never saw back home.”
I leaned forward to see around my husband in the driver’s seat, well, as far as my seat belt and big belly would allow me. A half-dozen white-tailed doe and three spotted fawns stood in a field rife with colorful wild flowers. “Yes, aren’t they beautiful.” I tried to sound cheerful, but the reply I gave was not exactly voiced in an enthusiastic manner. It even sounded like a robot to my own ears. Sigh. Back home. Back there in the lovely split-level home I thought was ours for life. Back when John had a good job and we felt secure with the guarantee of a promising future.
“Aw, Magpie (his goofy nickname for me), try to look on the bright side, will ya? Country life might be better for us anyway. That little guy you’re carrying will grow up in a cleaner environment and be less exposed to the drugs and gangs that were infiltrating our neighborhood. Remember Andy Griffith? I can picture our kid with a fishing pole, walking down a lane to the lake. And don’t roll your eyes like that; it makes you look like a pouting teenie-bopper.”
I couldn’t hold back a chuckle. “Okay, John, I promise to try, but don’t expect any miracles. I miss my friends already and don’t know how I’m going to be happy living with strangers.” My husband reminded me that our pastor said all friends start out as strangers. That’s another thing, I thought, finding a new church. Will this town have any Bible-teaching churches?
The miles rolled by. I had to admit the weather was perfect and the scenery wasn’t too hard on one’s eyes. Acres of freshly-plowed fields lay across gently rolling hills. Cows grazed near ponds decorated with the sun-sparkled wakes of ducks and long-necked geese. Gangly colts frolicked in meadows, kicking up their heels while indulgent mothers stood guard. Vast tracks of mixed forest stretched into the distant foothills. The baby stirred. I felt God’s spirit nudging me. Both seemed to be saying, “Be still, my Child/Mother. You are not alone.”
We passed a sign marked “SPRINGVILLE, 2 MILES, POPULATION 837,” where John had rented a remodeled farmhouse. I was wary about his choice, particularly when he told me it was a mile from town at the end of a long, dirt road. Optimistic as always, though, he said I would love it. I hadn’t been able to go house-hunting with him at the time. The movers wouldn’t arrive until tomorrow, so I packed our old Blazer with everything I thought we would need to camp out in the living room tonight. The thought of sleeping on an air mattress with my cumbersome body didn’t help ease the anxiety. I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists, and sent a prayer up to God when John turned left into our 'driveway.'
Pots and pans clanked in the cargo space as we bounced up the rutted track. I held onto the door handle with one hand and my baby bulk with the other. Just ahead of us I could see a row of small white signs marching up the lane. My mind flashed back to the old Burma-shave signs Mom and Dad used to laugh about, humorous poetry along country roads advertising some kind of shaving cream.
When we got close enough, I read each aloud:
WELCOME TO OUR LITTLE TOWN
WE KNOW YOU’LL BE A BLESSING
THE FRIG IS STOCKED, A BED IS MADE
YOU’RE TIRED, WE ARE GUESSING!
WE LEFT A LIST OF VOLUNTEERS
TO HELP WITH MOVING LABORS
CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE A CUPPA, DEARS
WITH LOVE, YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.
John reached for my hand. A tear strolled down my cheek. The baby kicked. God smiled.