My purple sheets billow out into the wind as they hang from the clothesline. Many times this past winter I thought how nice it would be to hang out my laundry. Alas, three feet of snow and ice under the clothesline made it quite difficult.
Now I take off the sweet smelling sheets and arrange the guest bedroom as the “Warmshower” bicycling folks begin to come. All of a sudden I have requests from the East and the West for folks, mainly university students, in need of bed, food and laundry facilities.
My first guest of the season arrives, Joe, from Korea. In all the years I have been hosting, this is my first visitor from Korea. I knew from his email that Joe had some difficulty with English, but didn’t realize the extent of it until he showed up on my back porch. I am always in awe of these young people who travel the country by bicycle, but in Joe’s case, I can’t even begin to imagine.
We are both able to talk about the important facts through a few words and hand gestures … water, bed, laundry, supper, breakfast, etc. He is a university student in Korea and wants to enjoy the USA by bicycle. He flew to Seattle and biked his way east to Indiana.
When Joe leaves he writes on my wall. I am always anxious to read what folks say when they leave, but in this case, Joe writes everything in Korean. I hope he had a good time, but I really don’t know.
The purple sheets go back in the washer and out on the line in preparation for another young man from Korea, Honeysuckle. I thought his American name was a little unusual, and I must say I have never known a Honeysuckle except the vine on my trellis.
Honeysuckle arrives while I am at Jonah’s ball game. When I return home he is resting on the back porch. I whisk him away to Pint & Slice to join Aaron and Karen and the boys for pizza. It is a lovely night, and we sit outside greeting other town folks that happen to be out for the evening. We talk about the monument and the small theaters and the shops around the Square. He tells us he loves our town. We beam. Jonah tells Honeysuckle about his grand slam and Matthew shyly shares a story of his great-grandmother who was from Korea.
Dusk falls. Shadows spill upon the sidewalks and the air grows chilly. Honeysuckle loves the coolness since he has just completed 60 miles on his bike. We say farewell and go home. He takes a shower and does his laundry and writes in his journal. All my Warmshower folks journal their way across our country. I always hope I have provided a sweet welcome to them.
After a breakfast of homemade bread and tea, he writes on my wall, fixes his back tire and heads west.
Again the purple sheets are tossed into the washer awaiting a visit from a young lady in a day or two.
All these folks travel across historic Route 20. I checked out a website by Daniel Houde in which he shares stories and historic facts about Route 20. It was built as the first east to west and west to east highway in 1925 following animal pathways and other trails. It was known as “First Western Turnpike” and the “Cherry Valley Turnpike.” Land was often set aside then as “auto camps” since there were no motels, hotels, restaurants or other places of rest. These camps had areas for tents and parking. It also was a great place for folks such as Bonnie and Clyde to hide out. Today it is a historic highway for folks who don’t want to travel the interstate. It is interesting to note that during this week historians traveling Route 20 met with our own historians at City Hall!
The sheets smell of peonies since my bushes have just started to bloom. I carry the sheets upstairs, but stop to check out my welcome wall. I forgot to look after Honeysuckle left to see what he wrote. He thanked me for my kindheartedness and my restlessness.
Hmmm … my restlessness? Perhaps he sensed that it is almost time for me to pack up and take to the road myself. Could it be that island life will soon be calling me? Until then, let the peonies bloom and the sheets blow in the Indiana wind.
LOU ANN HOMAN-SAYLOR lives in Angola at the White Picket Gardens where you can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, teacher, writer, actress and a collector of front porch stories.