A warm breeze floated over the meadow as Brian lay in his hideout in the soft grass in a shallow ravine beside the hay-field. A bumble bee floated by his face on the way to the blue and white wild flowers that bordered the field. He rested there after a morning of sweating through the task of throwing heavy hay bales onto a farm wagon for their new landlord. He hated the job but the promise of a pair of champagne rabbits as pay for his labor for his mom’s “nature boy” was worth the effort. Their break from his dad in the previous month was quick and final. HIs mom found a cheap but drafty apartment in a huge two family two-story frame house that also contained a small grocery store. It was on a strip of land sandwiched between a two lane country road and a four lane highway. Farm fields dotted the area and there was a small creek just down the hill. A small trailer court was next door and a makeshift barn was across the street that housed a few cattle from time to time.
Little by little they moved their few belongings into the new place before his dad knew what was happening. That was until Brian and his twin brother Bruce came home from school to an empty house one day and his dad pulled into the driveway right behind them. Walking with them into the empty house he said the obvious, “I guess you’re moving!” Then with no emotion he turned, got into his car and drove back down the lane and right out of their lives, at least for the time being.
In the new apartment their family shared a common stairway to the second floor with the family next door who were also the proprietors of the store. That made it interesting at bedtime when Brian would hastily run up the stairs in his pajamas hoping not to be seen by the lady next door. The house was a step or two down from their previous home with drafty windows and cracked panes. A coal fired heatrola stove in the corner of the living room provided the only heat with its stove pipe disappearing into the ceiling and was exposed in the bedroom above which was a welcome source of heat in their bedroom where on cold winter mornings he would often wake up and find snow on the inside window sill. Winter would also bring rodent visitors from the barn across the street which made life interesting.
But Brian was in his haven. He loved running the fields and playing in the creek. Oh the creek! It wound lazily through a low meadow in the valley below the house and was alive with creatures. He loved wading in and turning over rocks to see what he could find or catch and keep in a mason jar.
It was a big adventure when he followed the creek as it ran under the towering bridge that supported the four lane highway. The bridge tunnel opened up into another meadow and seemed like a world that was far away from home. Another favorite activity was gathering eggs from bird nests. He treasured his egg collection which he kept in a grass lined cigar box on the window sill in his bedroom. He often climbed to the top of the tall pine tree beside the house seeking black bird eggs and he could almost see the top of the house from his precarious perch.
But the problems of a single parent household were quick to catch up with them. His mom worked double shifts at the local truck stop cooking and waitressing and she even brought left over food home from time to time. Though the rent was low it was still hard to keep up and the kind landlord would often stop in for whatever portion of the rent his mom could provide. Brian knew that his mom’s bad nerves were getting the best of her and her family came periodically to see how she was doing. It wasn’t long until they saw the need to take her to a mental hospital to get her some help. Brian’s heart was broken and he wondered what would happen to his mom and especially to him. He felt like an orphan but a loving uncle and aunt welcomed him into their home. They took him to a church service which was a new experience.
That was the first time he heard about God. Oh sure his mom had him say their rote prayers at meals and bedtime but this was different. Through the songs they sang and the words of the preacher Brian learned that the Creator of all the wonderful creatures in his life was also a God that loved and cared for him! This was the comforting message that began to wrap itself around his heart. It would be many years later until he took a saving step of faith, but God had begun His persistent pursuit of His future child. (To be continued)
See “Brian & the Band” below.