We all known them. They are the people we meet along life’s path that stand out. They radiate a certain light, a particular joy, and when their emails land inside your in-box, you eagerly open the information sent your way.
This is always the case with Susan Carey of Buck Creek Church of the Brethren, rural Mooreland, in northern Henry County. A couple times a year, Susan shoots emails to me at The Courier-Times with information about their upcoming church fundraisers.
While I get notices like hers all the time, and it’s simply part of my job to put them in the paper, there is always something sweet about Susan’s. She seemed grateful, kind somehow in our brief exchanges, and well, I don’t know why, but I knew I would like her.
She hadn’t read my book, but somehow, in our brief cyber-howdy-do’s, it came up, and before I knew it, she had invited me to be the Mother’s Day brunch speaker at Buck Creek.
All winter, I had the date on my calendar. The plan was to talk about the first book and give my related bucket-list program. The date might be near when the new novel came out, but then again it might not. So the original book and program seemed the safest bet to plan. And besides, I never tire of tweaking a program to suit the audience.
In this case, the tweaking had to do with experiences covering the Mooreland area. So of course I spoke about the Mooreland World’s Fair, about Mr. Mooreland Fair, my friend Darrel Radford, about various characters I’ve had the joy of interviewing and knowing in and around Mooreland.
That train of thought led directly to one of my all-time favorite people, the late, great Max Hiatt. Max was an old-time farmer who loved Mooreland more than he loved his right arm. We got together each fall for a story about Max’s weather predictions for the coming winter. And to talk about life. Max loved Mooreland because Mooreland loved him.
Once his son was in a terrible wreck and Max said the people of that town prayed for his boy. The boy survived. Max never for a moment forgot those prayers. “What price do you put on a prayer?” he asked me, knowing full well that it was a question without an answer.
So he gave back love. And candy. Red-hot Jolly Ranchers to be exact.
Once Max told me, “If the good Lord had not chosen Eden for his paradise, I believe he would have picked Mooreland.”
I would guess that the Buck Creek crowd would not disagree with that assessment. From the moment I entered their fellowship hall, I felt as at home as if I had been raised in that church. The ladies were so kind and spoke to me as if they had always known me, and possibly they have for a good spell through my work at the paper, anyway.
They know how to cook, too, and did they ever! What a meal of their best casseroles, salads and desserts.
They were not a shy bunch when it was time to share what’s on their bucket lists. One lady wants to write a book about her fascinating life. A 90-year-old English war bride (as in World War II) wants to jump out of an airplane. A great-grandmother wants to drive a semi, just once anyway, down the road.
Oh, what dreams may come for these interesting ladies.
When we parted ways for the afternoon, it wasn’t long before one of their fold who couldn’t be there due to illness messaged me on Facebook that she hated to miss my program but had heard several nice things about it.
I’m thinking: Really? Already?
These ladies are a tight-knit group. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that their friend was given a speedy update. Susan suggested that not only are they close, but their mothers and grandmothers and I would guess their great-grandmothers were close as well.
Rural farm women, from old-time Henry County farms. Salt of the earth.
It sure is pretty out there in the Buck Creek area not so far from the Big Blue River Valley, another gem.
I think Max may be onto something about paradise. I’m sure not going to argue the notion.