The Kentucky Trek: A Post-Grad Tale of Repeats
Common theme: returning home after graduation.
Less common theme: returning to a home you haven't been to in four years after graduation, when your last visit was the week before college orientation.
Common theme: Following in your father's footsteps.
Less common theme: *Literally* following in your father's footsteps.
When my dad graduated from Oberlin, he went to Kentucky with several recent alums and set up permanent camp on several tracts of farmland in Hart County, Kentucky. When I graduated from Oberlin, I went on a two-week trek with my family to my old Kentucky home.
For me, memory lane is paved in green.
As you may recall, Hawaii is not my homeplace. It's my current address of residence, the place I visit my family over breaks, and where I graduated from high school. Though I began to hone my two passions (cooking and photography) upon my arrival there, the place that made me the person I am was not the Rainbow Isle. The credit of my existence really goes to my upbringing in south-central Kentucky.
Farmland, how much you are lacking in Hawaii.
A piece of our book collection. This room is called the library, but it only has a fraction of the books that are in our house.
Kentucky is overrun with clovers. I just so happen to find all the four-leaf ones.
Ben and I got a bit of a rock star treatment throughout the trip. In case you didn't remember, Ben will be starting here in the fall as a first-year. Independent of all our family friends who went to Oberlin, so many people we met were familiar with the fabulousness that is Oberlin, and how great an experience my dad and I had here. I am SO EXCITED about Ben attending Oberlin, especially because I'll be working here in Oberlin for the next year alongside Ms. Ferrebee at the Office of Communications as the new Web Fellow. These Plaut siblings are unstoppable, yo.
It was a terribly busy and emotional visit (not in the sad way, at least not entirely, but more overwhelming and loving and caring sort of way). We stayed in our old house, doing some fixings-up and sorting through family things. We tromped in our 80-acre woods, walked along our entire creekfront, and picked black raspberries from the plants we've had for years (sadly, they're one of the only edible thing left on our farm, once a packed 2-acre plot of dozens of organic fruits and veggies in its heyday). We drank the cleanest, tastiest, and best water in the world straight from our spring.
Much like the light in Ohio, Kentucky has incredible light at dusk.
Visiting our spring. This is the best water in the world, no kidding.
A walk along the creek.
Black raspberries. So. Tasty.
We visited many, many friends over the two weeks we were in the Bluegrass. We saw some of my brother's and my favorite teachers, including our 3rd grade teacher, now a school manager at a consolidated elementary school. We saw tons of family friends, driving all over the county to see house improvements and flower and vegetable gardens, drinking in the beautiful sights and being fed from gardens of plenty.
Wild and beautiful things in the gardens of Kentucky.
We went on a weekend trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, a tradition that dates back to before I was born, when groups of my dad's friends would drive down to Tennessee to rough it at Cosby Campground a few miles from the Appalachian Trail, hiking during the day and campfire cooking at night. The Smokies trip was rainy. This stretch of the Appalachian Mountains is called the Smokies because the peaks trap clouds for extended periods of time, creating its own weather system. It rains every day, and usually, it pours at least once over our camping weekend. This time, we unpacked, set up camp, went to cook with our friends, and the skies opened up. After about 8 inches of rain over the course of 3 hours, we called it quits on the socializing round the Coleman stove. The tent was soaked, as was everything in it. My brother and I slept in the car.
The next day, we hiked up Charlie's Bunion, a stretch of the Appalachian Trail that swerves off to a pointy looking overlook, a ten mile round-trip trek. On our way back to our car, it began to pour again. We completed the last mile of our walk in ponchos, watching well-meaning but underprepared tourists begin the trail in the rain, wearing flipflops and carrying no water.
Ben found his first guitar, and we took it with us to the Smokies. Long roadtrip guitar jam/lesson commence.
The beautiful Smokies.
The camping crew. In the mix includes alums Sam and Bonnie Avery, John Brittan, my dad, and myself (plus future alum Ben).
After another late evening of crazy delightful friends, we headed home again to continue our multiple visits per day. We didn't even make a dent in our former life, sadly, even with several conglomerated friend dinners. All my friends, all who had graduated within the past two weeks, who also went home for short visits following commencement, all seemed to leave their homeplaces right before I got there.
One of our many visits, my brother and my 3rd grade teacher, at the new elementary school.
My mom and her best friend from high school. She moved to Kentucky about ten years ago.
We did fit in a sizable visit with Dorothy in Henderson, Kentucky, though. Dorothy was our next-door neighbor for years, adopting my dad when he moved to the farm almost forty years ago. She happily embraced my mom, and then my brother and me, as we all came to the farm in due time. Dorothy became my third grandmother upon my birth, and she and my brother share an inseparable bond: they share a birthday! Soon after we moved to Hawaii, Dorothy moved to Henderson to be closer to her family, but any time we are in the area, we visit her. I visited her the week before I started college, so this was a fabulous visit to fill her in on my experiences.
Dorothy! Because of her, I crave fried chicken, mashed potatoes, dumplings and biscuits.
A family portrait at the old homestead. Leaving this time was a much less tearful departure.