Taking Time to Ponder

One of the great pleasures of any trip is taking the time to really look at the places of the past and thinking about what came before.

An old family cemetery, an old schoolhouse, an old tobacco barn all have personal histories and stories to tell. Gathering only a few facts about the place can bring many possible scenarios to mind and make for an imaginative and enjoyable day in the country.

In Kentucky, like so many Southern states, many such places to pause and contemplate the years gone by exist to help in this pastime.

For instance, when you drive east out of Harrodsburg on the way to Lexington on Hwy. 68, you’ll come to a turn off that will take you to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Shakertown at Pleasant Hill Historic District http://www.shakervillageky.org/. Shakertown is a national historic landmark. The Shaker religious sect began building this working agricultural community in 1805. As a living museum it affords the visitor a look into a community that served both its God and its neighbors.

This austere group built to last and formed a movement in the furniture industry that continues to hold its design integrity over a century later.

Whether on a snowy day surrounded by thoughts of winter’s long quiet slumber, or on a spring-time stroll for peace and meditation, this site can give the visitor an opportunity to take the measure of personal dreams and aspirations. There’s nothing like wandering in solitude along the edge of a pond to freshen one’s perspective.

Driving along country roads gives the visitor an opportunity to question the past. An old wooden building, falling apart at the corners and listing to one side: what had it been when first built? In this case, according to locals, it had been a Juke Joint with live music and dancing and revelry, frequented by African-Americans living in the area.

Scenarios fit for a Steampunk novel can be brought to bear when looking at a vintage steam-powered driver pushed to the side and waiting for restoration.

The worse-for-wear home sitting close to the downtown area of a small community waits for someone to care for it again. Who used to live here? One local looked at the house and reminisced about her favorite teacher when she’d attended the local school 60 years prior. The house had been grand and inviting to students and their families. The teacher had long ago gone to her rest, but the house still stood testament to her life and her impact.

Sometimes looking at the past that belonged to others gives us the ability to look at our own and assess it with a fresher perspective and a more objective take on our own impact in this world. It allows us to see things in “A Wonderful Life” kind of way and helps us to place priorities for the future.

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Recharging on Life

There are times when every traveler needs to recharge the batteries of enthusiasm and interest. During our country tour through the South last winter, recharging became a major priority.

Visiting with family can help with this process in subtle or spectacular ways. We were fortunate enough to experience both.

We arrived in Harrodsburg, Kentucky in early February, a cold and dreary month. Vibrant colors don’t exist at that time. Somber hues dominate the landscape, turning the clock back to near black and white photographic days.

Life, however, thrives during this month in Kentucky and we were there to share in new beginnings. At a thoroughbred farm outside Harrodsburg, we witnessed a miracle of nature. It’s not often that the average person gets to see a new race horse come into the world. We were privileged to be allowed in the birthing box for the event.

From delivery to standing on four hooves, the newly arrived filly proceeded to jerk, wobble, and fall down in deep straw bedding. Mama was there to help it up and watch it take its first hesitant steps. The foaling crew stood to one side, watching for problems in case they needed to intervene quickly.

Murmured conversation of observations rumbled while shifting straw left behind shushing sounds. A tiny bleat of trepidation from the new foal punctuated the other sounds within the stall. For the human team expectation gave way to encouragement as pride took over from concern. Suckling would soon take precedence.

Down the aisle of the mares’ barn was a two-day old colt with its mama. Still a bit wobbly on its long legs, it surveyed its new world and stayed close to its food source.

Along both sides of the broad concrete aisle, boxes contained mares that waited for their turn at delivery. Some came forward to peek out, perhaps trying to see what all the hubbub was about. One stood and swayed to some internal rhythm of her own. We were told that she always did that during confinement. Still others ignored the world outside their stalls.

Surrounding all of the activity was a feeling of immensity and importance. The impact of impending activity bears down on a person when nearly a ton of horseflesh worth half a million dollars stands ready to deliver a baby. Put twenty of those potential new mamas in one building and it gets intense.

Our recharging had begun. Enthusiasm for life had been replenished. The final stroke of enthusiasm came a couple of days later when visiting more family. This time the babies were new calves. Between the calves, the laughter and the fellowship of a large family, we found ourselves again.

Of course, excellent home cooking of food that makes a person drool, along with renowned Southern hospitality, also helped effect a cure for travel fatigue.