Without a doubt, I'm a nester. Instead of twigs and leaves, I use embroidered cotton sheets, cozy tufted chairs and hand-stitched quilts. Laptops and cell phones mingle with milk glass and century-old tables. I ride a new hybrid bicycle and drive a 1978 Ford F-100. My nest is a soothing blend of past and present woven in a gentle hope of good things to come.
Yet as much as I love home, every so often, the open road calls my name. It begins as a whisper. "I hear there's a roadside stand you'd love on that highway," it prods. I begin to see road maps everywhere. Each magazine has a travel brochure enclosed. The whisper grows louder and presses me until I'm nudged from the nest. The open road waits no more.
Now, everyone has their own way of traveling. Some plan feverishly for months on end. Some go to every attraction to experience all the destination has to offer. And some, like me, pack a bag with little more than a couple days and a general direction in mind.
So was the case last week when the fair Baxter and I set sail northward. The only thing on the agenda was a bucket list item: See a game at Lambeau Field. After coasting through many a cornfield and town, we barked and smiled (respectively) as we were welcomed to Wisconsin.
I soon found myself standing before a 50-foot bronzed Vince Lombardi statue. I tipped my hat as he pointed me toward my seat. Friends were quickly made with those around me, probably because of their laughter at my appearance. I'd been warned a Southern girl could freeze solid in Lambeau, regardless of the temperature. Whether it was the Michelin Man bundling or the accent, something amused the locals in my vicinity.
The national anthem began to play and players stood, locking arms, as they'd asked fans to do. The fans did not, at least those in my view. All stood, hats removed, hands over hearts, singing the anthem. Folks were kind, respectful and good-natured, even when handling a couple of rowdy fans or finding solidarity when a Bear hit tossed a Packer like a ragdoll. There are some things you just don't do on that field.
The next day, we became Yoopers and explored the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, walking the edge of Lake Michigan and taking in local fish fries. We ate when we were hungry and slept when we were tired. A girl and her dog just ... being.
The open road is a sobering reminder of the pleasant and unpleasant in our land, where communities' pasts and presents are woven together -- and sometimes our fabrics clash. Once home again, I slid beneath Granny's quilt -- a mismatched applique of garish colors and patterns, tied together with teal thread. I remain proud to be an American, an Arkansan, a Bentonvillager, and I chose to believe there is good to be found in most of us, long after the car stops.
NAN Our Town on 10/05/2017
Print Headline: The open road