I just returned from ten days on the family farm in Missouri. I look forward to these blessed visits with great anticipation—sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying breakfast and conversation with my mother, and playing with the family dog, Packer—what more can I ask for?  My well is filled, my pump is primed, and my soul is fed for months to come!

Our farm is located three miles from Kahoka. The town has a population of two thousand people, one four-way stop, and no stoplights! Shopping is limited to a Dollar General (that my brother manages), two grocery stores, and two convenience stores. A half hour drive takes you to Keokuk, Iowa, and a super Wal-Mart.  But I don’t go home for the shopping!

I look forward to our family traditions. The first evening mother prepares supper. The menu consists of comfort food like tuna-noodle casserole, lima beans, candied sweet potatoes, and hot rolls with homemade strawberry jam.  A seasonable rhubarb cobbler tops off the meal. We stay up late every evening visiting and reading. Stacks of magazines are everywhere, and I read everything I can get my hands on! I awaken to country breezes and sounds of chirping birds and calling bobwhites. I go for long walks on the country roads. Through nature and the wide open spaces, I connect to my loved ones who lived here including paternal and maternal grandparents as well as my father.

I travel to Missouri four times a year, and the June visit centers around gardening. Jan Karon, in Home to Holly Springs, says “beauty is important in this fragile life.”  Although my 89-year old mother is limited in outside work, she can tend small flower beds and potted plants. So the front of her home is ablaze with colorful plants by the time I leave. Part of our tradition is going to several nurseries and buying purple wave petunias, orange marigolds, pink geraniums,  Persian shield, assorted coleus plants, and knock-out roses, to name a few. My mother never saw a plant she didn’t like, and I am the same way!

June is also strawberry time, and we purchase a dozen quarts of the sweetest strawberries from a childhood classmate—freshly picked. We try two new strawberry shortcake recipes and make freezer jam. The last morning of my visit mother makes fresh blueberry pancakes for brunch.

Pulling out of the driveway and waving good-bye to my mother and Packer always brings tears to my eyes. I am deeply grateful for our special time together. I return to my Florida home renewed and rejuvenated–ready to write stories and to market Tatianna–Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend.

What is your fondest family visit?

Bountiful Blessings!