My annual cousins reunion down South is fast approaching in March. This will be our fifth year. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with this story, I grew up in Florida and was close to my cousins who were spread across the panhandle of Florida into Alabama. I married and moved to New York State and with few exceptions, did not see my cousins for decades. I was busy raising my twin sons and didn't get back South that much. Funerals and weddings draw relatives out of the woodwork. When my father died in 2003, I saw all my cousins again and it was amazing. We picked up right where we left off!
Several years later, I said, "Why don't we all get together again on the old homestead for a fun day?" Man! I didn't have to beg! My father's family owned land "out in the middle of no where" that had been in the family since it was deeded from the government back in the mid-1800s. My grandparents farmed the land until they got too old. My grandfather was a prosperous cotton farmer until they came home from church one Sunday in their horse and buggy and their house had burned to the ground. In those days, due to the Great Depression, my grandparents did not believe in banks. Every dime they had was in that house when it burned to the ground. As a kid, we would go there and walk in the woods and just have a grand time. Some of those old cotton plants were still there and producing cotton. In the mid-60's, my father and his siblings, built a pond from two natural springs. We camped there for quite a few years. The shelter my Dad built to cover the Airstream trailer we had at the time still stands to this day. Other than that shelter, the land remains as it has for hundreds of years. We have a dirt road that leads back to the area and we hire someone to clear the area where we meet once a year.
It is a fun day of fishing, target shooting, good food, and just catching up with everyone's life. I really look forward to it.
It is a two day drive for me - four days round trip. I am often asked, "Why don't you just fly?" Well, I honestly enjoy driving down! I love watching Spring come alive the further South I go. Most often, there is still snow on the ground when I leave New York State. Seeing dogwood trees in bloom in the woods along the way is a joy to me.
But more importantly, I just believe it is important to stay attached to your roots. Yes, that seems out of date in this fast paced world we live in today. But these are my values.
I have a pressure cooker job that is demanding 24/7. It is gratifying to me to get back with my cousins and not have to be politically correct or on my toes for a few days. These are people I grew up with and they count big time in my life!
3 hours ago