I’m in Illinois passing through little towns with bowling alleys and wildflowers growing along the roads. Unexpectedly I went to the Caterpillar Visitors Center where I learned that the company started making equipment in Peoria in 1914 and is now making the largest truck out there that carries 400 tons, has 14 ft. tires and is driven 70 percent of the time by women, because they are easier on the apparatus. My mom’s first job was as a secretary in the Napa Caterpillar office and to this day she speaks of it fondly.
I spent another glorious evening with Sarah and her husband (who is retiring this week from Caterpillar after 44 years), and relished more Gordy/dog therapy. I’m on my way to Macomb, Illinois to see where Sarah grew up and visit another friend working at Western Illinois University. On my way I got lost in the tiniest town called Cuba, and ended up unexpectedly at a cemetery.
After winding my way back out of Cuba and into Macomb I found it boggling that a university would plant itself in the middle of nowhere, and being summer it looked especially depressed. It didn’t help that while I was driving around the town square a sheriff was unloading 2 “convicts” dressed in tan and pinkish wide-striped jumpsuits, hands cuffed behind them, as they were being ushered up the courthouse steps. Prisoners are still dressed in stripes!? Unbelievable. I thought that was only in old movies.
After a quick visit to the university and catching up with Algernon and being gifted a WIU t-shirt I was off on miles of back country roads to Fairfield, Iowa. I almost hit a deer that dashed out in front of me, and the release of adrenaline made the hairs on my arms stand on end. It was beautiful farm country with grain silos, rows of growing corn and old farmhouses dotting the landscape.
I am checking out Fairfield because it was on the list of the Smithsonian Magazine 20 Best Small Towns in America. I booked a room in the Seven Roses Inn for a mere $89 a night.
Right across from the B&B was Chautauqua Park (familiar from my visit to Chautauqua Institute) and I walked amongst singing tree frogs and chirping birds a few miles to a beautiful lake. I also saw my fourth baby bunny on this trip and it reminded me how my dad used to bring in abandoned jackrabbit bunnies from the vineyard. He would flush them out when he was disking between rows of vines with his Caterpillar tractor. We would put the bunnies in cardboard boxes and feed them milk from a little dropper, but they never survived. It was one of the most traumatic events of my childhood to come excitedly to pick up a bunny we had been nursing and find it stiff with rigor-mortis. Today I looked up rabbit symbolism to see what the earth might be trying to tell me. Some of the things that resonated from WHATS-YOUR-SIGN.com
Symbolic rabbit meanings deal primarily with abundance, comfort, and vulnerability.
The rabbit is a perfect symbol for spring which is fertile with themes like: New life, New beginnings and the undeniable current of growth.
Rabbits’ renowned ability to have large litters of babies is also symbolic of creativity/creation.
Rabbits love to chew, and their teeth never stop growing. Symbolically, chewing implies repetition, contemplation, and breaking concepts down into component parts. Their diet is light and green, which implies symbolism of health and prosperity.
Rabbits are burrowers and their deep, maze-like tunnels symbolize connections with primal energy as well as Mother Earth energies. The rabbit encourages us to retreat within, get warm, and collect ourselves…For sure, the rabbit symbolizes reflection.
I find this all perfect for my life and head space right now. I am once again retreating to the road, reflecting on what’s next, creating and growing like crazy, embracing my inner self and full of health and prosperity. So yay, for bunnies!
I normally don’t advertise the places I stay since that is not my purpose on this blog, but the Seven Roses Inn was so amazing that a shameless plug is in order. I arrived to beautiful landscaped grounds and a lovely small white manor house. I had an adorable attic room with a free-standing tub. I can’t tell you the last time I had a bath, as showers have been the only recent option but it’s been a long time. I probably soaked for an hour after my walk, it was heavenly. As I was reading Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet in the bath this quote stood out…
“What is necessary after all is solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours-that is what you must be able to attain.”
I have been basking in my solitude. The hours in the car, the walks, I am happy alone. I heard the Little League announcer calling a baseball game in the distance. It was so “All American” that I wanted some apple pie, peanuts and cracker jacks. What a delightful evening, even if I kept bashing my head on the cute sloped ceilings! For $89 bucks it is the best deal I will see on this trip. The other beautiful rooms you could fully stand up in and were very reasonably priced as well. The breakfast was a scrumptious, simple fresh fruit crepe with sausages and plenty of coffee.
Descending from my steep bower I took my time basking in the house the next morning because I had it all to myself. I wrote letters and read books and listened to the Zac Brown Band sing “Let the world go on without me, ‘cause I ain’t in no hurry today…” What a lovely place to be, right here, right now, not looking forward or back but just basking in now.
I had a long drive ahead but made a quick dash into Revelations Cafe for a latte for the road, only to discover that it is a used bookstore as well as cafe. I ended up leaving 30 min, later with three books under my arm. Creative energy keeps bursting into my soul. I liked the town’s feel of quaint and not too upscale but cultured enough to have theater, nice restaurants, sweet shops and plenty of BOOKS!
I stopped the next night in Abilene, Kansas another Smithsonian small town, but this one was not so charming. Depressed is a fit term and there was a storm akin to the one in Back to the Future with lightning and whipping wind in the trees, making my hair stand out on end like Doc Browns. But that was the most excitement I could find. It is a town in decline. But with more Zac Brown Band to serenade me, I haven’t a care in the world.
Quiet your mind
Soak it all in
It’s a game you can’t win
Enjoy the ride
At the end of the water
A red sun is risin’
And the stars are all goin’ away
And if you’re too busy talkin’
You’re not busy listenin’
To hear what the land has to say
Quiet your mind