It’s 6:30am Saturday morning and the first light is starting to creep over the horizon. The song of the early morning birds climbs to a crescendo, and I start to remember why it is that I love living here. The air is crisp and the shards of light are so sharp and crisp that you can’t miss the warmth they bring. At first, the dew of the morning grass is wet and cold, but then it transforms into a misty offering to the warm spring breeze, and it disappears like it was never there to start with.
In the distance I hear the neighbor’s dog barking his greeting to that orange cat that seems to appear every time I turn around, and as I walk out my front door onto my deck, the screen door slams, and my first sip of coffee reminds me that it’s all real. The country air mixed with the smell of my earthy black coffee brings an aroma similar to the hot summer air of the Bahamas that I remember from years ago; but it’s better, because it’s right out my front door. As I sit down in my white plastic lawn chair, the cold on the back of my legs sharpens the sensation of reality that’s starting to creep past the foggy depths of night that my mind is still trying to escape. This is Geauga County, my vacation, my everyday sabbatical; it’s a place to call home.
I’ve been so many places over the past decade, but somehow my path always leads me back to where I started. Right back here to my home. It’s warm here. Not the kind of warmth the weatherman predicts, but the kind of warmth you see in people’s faces. I walk through the door of Coffee Corners, and there are smiling faces behind the counter who remember my name and actually do care that I’m there. Belle’s Restaurant is full of rich aromas and memories of the times my grandfather and I spent eating pie and ice cream. And if I stand back and squint my eyes hard enough at the Burton Post Office, it transforms into a little place called Chaney’s that sold the best sandwiches and enough candy to make a small boy sick if he spent his whole allowance there.
Clip clop, clip clop, goes the horse down the road, and I am back on my front porch again remembering the 20 years that make up my memories of this little county called Geauga, this big little place called Burton. I’ve done a lot of thinking over the years. I think when someone travels from here to somewhere else, they are actually just buying time to sit and think about their home. When we start out heading to the shining sea, we think that the destination is where we are trying to get to, but over the years, I’ve found for myself that I’m just trying to find a way home. A mile down the road my dad’s stone house sits, and the pond is swarming with bass and bluegill just waiting to be caught. I watched that pond as it was being dug, and I watched the rain and streams fill it up. I can already see my son and me sitting on the dock, sticking a worm on the hook. Splash! There goes another bullfrog, and a turtle just slid through the cattails into the dark cool water. Wow. This is the kind of resort I see on the travel channel, but it’s right here; and it’s all mine.
Sometimes we get caught in the moment or the long painful hours that life sends our way, and we forget about the heaven that God has put down right in front of us, all around us. Right here, right now, we’ve got the opportunity to breathe in that fresh, clean, free air, and we can go anywhere our mind will take us. Sometimes being homegrown and from the area can temporarily blind us to the gifts that we have right here, but every once in awhile, the glory is so bright that it’s undeniable.
I’m so fortunate to call Geauga County my home. As I enter a new phase of my life, and start to see my son grow up before my eyes, I feel blessed to have a place like this to call home. Sometimes the wonders of this life are right before our very eyes, and we just have to travel far enough to finally see them.