A trip to Galena

October 25th: Sunny and clear. Because my husband and I have a rare day off together, we decide to make a date day of it and take a leisurely drive north beside the Mississippi along the Great River Road. Our destination is Galena, Illinois.

Oct 25.1

As we meander our way upriver, vintage jazz plays on the stereo and sunlight pours over us like butterscotch, setting farm fields, meadows, and wooded bluffs ablaze with late-autumn splendor.

Oct 25.2

Along the way are pumpkin fields stretching as far as eye can see.

Oct 25.3

A sign points to Argo Fay (the town whose indisputably Pig Latin name, we think, is secret code for Fargo).

Oct 25.4

A vintage Ford looks right at home along Galena’s charming streets.

Oct 25.5

I pause to capture a photo of this winsome side-street marriage proposal. I keep wondering, did Jenny say yes?

Oct 25.6

A colorful yo-yo quilt, on display in a sun-dappled antique shop window, catches my eye.

Oct 25.7

Blossoms like this little lovely brighten Galena’s every street corner and storefront.

We didn’t come to shop, but we peek inside a few stores anyway. In a kitchen shop, Jeff samples some fiery salsa with another shopper and fellow chili-head who turns out to be Frank Fritz from the popular TV show, American Pickers.

Oct 25.8

In the foyer of a rustic building is the most stupendous pumpkin we’ve ever seen; it tips the scale at 1,033.5 pounds!

Afternoon transitions into evening with a burst of golden light. We squint in late-day sun to admire every exquisite detail of the nineteenth century architectural gems that line Galena’s winding streets.

Just before sunset, I hold my breath as a mighty flock of northbound Canada geese pass high overhead. As the great birds melt away behind the silhouettes of rooftops, we listen until their wild cries fade into stillness…

The dinner hour approaches; we consider the menus of several possible restaurants but elect to dine at home rather than spend a bundle at a pricey establishment. Daylight spent but not quite over, we amble back towards the place where our car is parked beside the Galena River.

Oct 25.9

As we near the river, we are met with a sky of palest lavender and a full moon so luminous, so breathtaking, it brings these lines by Walt Whitman to mind:

Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the housetops, . . .
Immense and silent moon.

I simply have to get closer to the river, just to linger a while in the hush of twilight, just to absorb the ethereal loveliness of the rising moon. Trekking through ankle-high grass, we clamber up and over the hill to the riverbank, to the mystical place where gold-laden saplings and bare boughs tremble and deconstruct in dark water. Inexorably drawn to this moon-bathed silence, we stand transfixed. A sense of wholeness envelops us. I feel I could stay here forever.

Oct 25.10

Twilight fades, the first stars appear. We climb up and over the hill, heads filled with the day’s sights and experiences, hearts synchronous and serene. It has been a picture-perfect day. Hand in hand, we walk back to our car…

Postscript: Alas! Not five minutes after leaving the deep peace of this moonlit scene, I slipped and took a tumble in dewy grass along the riverbank, severely dislocating and fracturing my left ankle. With two corrective surgeries now behind me, thankfully, I’m slowly, s l o w l y on the mend. In case you’ve been wondering, now you know why I haven’t posted much of anything here for the past many weeks. Now that I’m feeling better, I hope to post again more regularly. xo

24 thoughts on “A trip to Galena

  1. I am so sorry to hear about your fall and the surgeries. I hope you are on the mend.

    I always look forward to receiving your emails. Blessings, Joni

  2. Thank you for sharing your (mostly) lovely day with us. It’s wonderful to have you back. I pray that you’re healing well, and that you’ve found many unexpected blessings in this time of involuntary stillness. Looking forward to your next post. ❤

    • When I look back to October 25th, I consider our wonderful day trip to Galena and my tumble down the dewy riverbank as separate experiences. My accident was harrowing, but broken bones can’t ever erase the loveliness of that day. My convalescence has indeed been a time of involuntary stillness punctuated by countless blessings for which I am grateful!

      I love hearing from you, Ann. Thank you for taking a moment to connect here. xoxo

  3. a perfectly breathtaking poem, your day in living breathing color and words. until the crescendo end, when part of you shattered. for the shatter, i am so deeply sorry. for the poetry that preceded all of it, every drop of it, i am so grateful.
    bless you and thank you……

    • So much of life feels like poetry to me, sweet friend… I, too, am grateful for the gloriousness of that picture-perfect day. Thank you for your unfailing words of kindness and support. They mean so much to me. Bless you~ xox

  4. You tell an ordinary story of an ordinary day so deliciously, Amy! Really, you do. I can picture it and it makes me want to have that day:). Not the ankle bit, though. That I wish we could rewrite. I hope you’re on the mend and being good to yourself.

    • The day was delicious, Kristine, simply delectable. I, too, wish you could have a day like this… What you may not realize is that in a way you did have that day, because I take you and all my dear ones with me everywhere I go! I wish we could rewrite my fractured ankle, too! But it is what it is, and it’s healing by littles. I’m grateful. xoxo

  5. Dear Amy, each day I checked my inbox, and each day I missed hearing your voice. I knew something must have happened to you, I am so sorry your beautiful date with your husband ended the way it did; so glad you are healing! And so happy to hear your voice once again!

    • Hello, Ellen! I love to hear your voice, too! I have missed your posts as well and know you must be busy getting settled in your new home. I so look forward to your upcoming posts and can’t wait to see how your new gardens begin to take shape!

      Thank you for your sweet message and words of kindness. I’m healing slowly and hope to be back to posting more regularly now. Much love to you, and many blessings~ xoxox

  6. Oh, I was enjoying this so much that I forgot what happened at the end! What a wonderful excursion (for the most part!) — thank you for taking us along, my friend. xo

    • Hello, dear Lynn! (I owe you a long letter which shall be forthcoming.) Yes, our trip to Galena was the most wonderful of excursions! As I mentioned here to my friend, Ann, I consider that beautiful day in Galena and my tumble in the dewy grass as two separate experiences. I sorely regret the fall, but I’ll always treasure the day.

      Hope all is well with you. Looking forward to your future posts as well!! Much love to you, my dear. xoxox

  7. Glad you are on the mend. Surrounding you with beautiful thoughts and a heart full of beauty that you bring to my mailbox!

    • Stephanie, how simply lovely of you to send this kind message! Thank you! Cheery words like yours, I’m sure, will help me heal faster and better. Bless you! Wishing you every good thing~ xoxo

  8. I love that your fall is the “postscript” to this blissful day. Am thinking of you so often, my friend, and hoping your bones are knitting themselves back together just so, strong and solid. What patience a full recovery demands of us. You are an inspiration!

    • My fall was an absolute postscript, Katrina, and no two ways about it! The joy of that blissful day seeped into every pore…

      I, too, hope my bones are knitting together well and agree wholeheartedly that recovery requires vast amounts of patience. I think I struggled with immobility a great deal more earlier on. In many ways now, I’ve settled into this quiet pace of convalescence.

      I love thinking of you up and about, moving freely, if slowly, soaking up sunshine. May you gain strength and greater mobility each day, my dear friend! xoxo

    • Thank you, Lisa! It was the most beautiful of days. And I love that pun! It turned out to be quite a “trip,” didn’t it?? Haha!! Much love to you~ xoxo

  9. I love Galena and the way you capture the beauty of your trip. But my heart zinged when I read your postscript. In my life, it so often inexplicably happens that at a moment of intense happiness, life changing injuries follow. I have given up trying to make sense of this except in the sense that at each moment we walk all unawares on the border between joy and sorrow. But each of my injuries (and each of my sorrows) have brought me joy and lessons that have deepened my life — though I never would have consciously chosen them. I too have broken my ankle and two years later still have some difficulty though I continue to improve. It changed my life, closing doors and opening new ones. In reading your posts, I admire the person of courage and heart you reveal. May your journey to healing bring you new life and new discovery. May 2016 bring joy and strength!

    • Nori, how simply lovely of you to send this message! Thank you so much! You’re spot on in your remark that each moment, we walk unaware between sorrow and joy. The sorrows and setbacks I’ve experienced in my life have taught me many lessons and have made me dive deep below the surface of things. Like you, I feel I’m the better for these hardships, although I wouldn’t have consciously chosen them either. They have altered my life in profound ways. There’s no use in looking back and trying to imagine different circumstances. I must deal with circumstances as they arise, even the most difficult ones. But, as Louisa May Alcott once said, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.” And that’s what I’m doing, as best I can. Not always easy, but as you have said, what I must concentrate on are the small victories. I can’t claim to love the snail’s pace at which I must presently progress. However, as I look back, I can already see the progress I’ve made. And progress of any sort is good news!

      Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and words of encouragement: they mean the world to me! Blessings and love to you in the new year~ xoxo

      • Dear Amy,

        Thank you for your kind reply. I hear your wisdom and your courage, but I also hear the sadness and sometimes weariness behind your words. There is no shame in sadness or weariness — they are part of the journey — the downward sliding into the trough just before the rise into the crest of the wave. I have learned — and it has been such a terribly difficult thing for me to learn! — that I must have compassion for myself in my darkest times and faith that I will emerge better.

        Your talk of sailing reminds me of a poem I wrote long ago which you might enjoy:

        I ride my life like a sailboat
        on an ocean deep and wide
        I capture the breeze
        to power my sails
        I use the stars as my guide

        I say, “The sea is blue and green
        at dawn the sky is blue and red
        Between them lie
        the wind and I
        and no one can say what’s ahead.”

        Beneath me swim the big fish
        eating fishes far bigger than me
        And above my boat
        lightning flickers and grows
        thunder mutters of dark debris

        A hurricane rages all around
        but I’m trapped in its silent eye
        And I don’t know the sea
        and I don’t know the wind
        and I don’t know the treacherous sky

        But I ride my life like a sailboat
        though the ocean is wide and deep
        And I laugh at the breeze
        as it jostles my sails
        and my course I try to keep

        I say, “The sky is blue above
        and the sea is blue below
        And between them lie
        my life and I
        and no one can say where we’ll blow

        Nori Odoi
        May 2016 bring you joy and healing and all things good.


      • Nori, you are a poet, a philosopher, a woman of kindness, compassion, and deep sensitivity. These qualities in combination are rare, and I cherish them. How grateful I am to have found you! Thank you for sharing your wisdom, your loving heart, and this wonderful poem with me here. May the goodness you share return to you in a thousand lovely ways! xoxo

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