This story is by Lisa F Cogliano and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
From my vantage point on the porch of my childhood home, coffee in hand, I marveled at the beauty of the autumn leaves against the morning sky. “It’s hard to believe those vivid colors are so far away!”
I didn’t realize I had spoken aloud until my husband answered (in fact, I didn’t even realize he had followed me onto the porch). “I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen more colorful leaves! They don’t get this bright at home.”
“Home” for the two of us was twelve miles south of Boston, where my husband had lived all his life, and where I had stayed after finishing college. If you had told us last year that we’d be spending our anniversary in northern Maine, we’d have laughed and called you crazy. Somehow, though, as the year progressed, our plans had changed.
Originally, Sam had insisted on going abroad to celebrate, since it was “the big 25!” In the end, I had talked him into coming here. I had heard that the current owners were turning the place into a Bed and Breakfast, and I just couldn’t imagine a better use for the rambling farmhouse in which I had spent the first eighteen years of my life.
It had been a difficult year, arguably the worst in our marriage, all things considered, both physically and psychologically. We joked that, between the two of us, we could be merged into one perfect human organism, scientifically speaking. But those months were behind us, and it was time for a vacation, the first in years.
We both needed to get away. For my part, I had spent the past six months enjoying the hospitality of one medical center and two rehab facilities. Despite their best efforts, numerous physical therapists had been unsuccessful at getting me back on my feet. I was still wheelchair bound, but in much better shape than before the four surgeries I had undergone in the middle of the year. As for my husband, he had taken the “in sickness and in health” part of our wedding vows to a whole new level during these trying times, and our love had grown stronger because of it.
There were still lots of things I couldn’t do, but it was nice to be in the country air, to see stars clearly, and enjoy the absence of traffic. It reminded me of my carefree childhood days (mind you, I didn’t think they were carefree at the time).
My revery was interrupted by our hostess, Mrs. Pearce. “Brunch is served!” Sam abandoned the morning paper, and we made our way to the dining room to meet our fellow guests. Oh, what a brunch it was! There were two breakfast casseroles, muffins, scrambled eggs, a huge fruit salad, fresh squeezed orange juice, and delicious coffee!
I was surprised the table didn’t collapse. But it did manage to hold all the food, and we socialized with our fellow guests while eating.
Derek and Alicia were visiting from Nova Scotia, on a long weekend to see friends in the area. “I’ve always wanted to visit Nova Scotia! Let’s go there next year!” I said enthusiastically.
Sam winced playfully as I elbowed him in the ribs. “Does this mean you’ll expect vacations like this every year?”
“Maybe,” I replied, which evoked an eye roll from Sam. “Where are you off to this afternoon, Cindy?” She was from Bangor, but came to Aroostook County every fall.
“To see the hot air balloons! You guys have to come with me!”
“Sounds great!” said Sam, as he pointed out the event in the newspaper.
“I don’t think they had hot air balloons here when I was a kid! I said. “I would have loved that!”
There were three hours left until the hot air balloon event, so we sat on the front lawn reading. It didn’t take long for my thoughts to wander, to the rhubarb patch from which I would often, as a child, pluck a stalk and eat it raw; to that place on the lawn where I’d build snow huts with my cousins when they came to visit my grandparents; and to that area in the lower field that had always been our garden. To this day I have fond memories of “snipping” green beans and “hulling” peas fresh out of the garden. Even now I find frozen peas a bit disappointing. There was also an area on the driveway where I had fallen while riding double on my sister’s bike. Stitches were required, so that was not a good memory, but it had left an impression!
Growing up on a potato farm had not been easy. It was cold in autumn, even colder in winter, in-between in spring, and hot in summer, and in the fall we were very busy, since that’s when the potatoes had to be released from the ground. Standing on a harvester for a full workday was backbreaking, and sometimes the ground was cold and wet. Nevertheless, it was satisfying to contribute to the “family business.”
“Time to go!” Sam yelled, and I sat up, startled. “Where were you just then?”
“Coming home for awhile, hon,” I replied. “Just coming home.”