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

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

0095_When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

A time-lapse photo of the night sky over our beloved Iowa homestead, which has belonged to our family for over 150 years.

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the
lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

~Walt Whitman, (1819 – 1892). Leaves of Grass.