I arrive back in my hometown at 2 in the morning and take my traditional drive around the mound. I actually drive around twice. I pull over to watch the bats flying in and out of the courthouse, hoping they have stayed out of my house for the summer.
Finally, I drive on home and back to the House at White Picket Gardens. I stand in the middle of the backyard looking at the growth of the trees and the scarlet of the roses. It is just the barest fraction of this earth where I plant my feet, but I am in love with it nonetheless.
My key is right where I left it and I find my house dark and quiet. As I enter I let the moonlight magic cast shadows within my old house.
I only have two days to unpack and do laundry before the winds blow. I repack and say farewell in the morning darkness. I am not ready to leave so soon, but the work calls and I heed. The drive to the train station in Waterloo is lined with tall, heavy corn. Parking the car on the hill, I put my keys on the front tire so Lee can come pick it up for the girls to borrow, and I haul up my battered suitcase to the train platform. The sun is just coming up and with it the heat of this late July morning.
My destination is Kansas City, Missouri, and who wouldn’t want to travel there by train? With lights and whistles, the train stops in Waterloo, and I board. The ride is quiet with folks who have ridden all night from Washington, D.C. I know that drowsy, need-a-shower feeling, as I have taken the journey many times. But today I am fresh and showered and ready for conversation and adventure. My seatmate is a college student who finally wakes up!
The day is long, but easy. I spend a few hours in Union Station in Chicago reviewing work and my shows. By mid-afternoon it is time to board for Kansas City. The Amtrak Southwest Chief is polished and cleaned and ready for our arrival. I am one of the first on. I plug in my phone and my laptop. A young student stops and asks if she can join me. “Of course,” I say. Our conversation does not need prodding. She is a veterinary student who never met a storyteller! We have much to talk about.
We eat dinner on the train with a gentleman from Liverpool, England, and an Army veteran. The sun sets on fields of soybeans and corn … the heartland of this country. I scribble a haiku on my napkin.
Back in our seats we are lulled into a sleep that is quickly interrupted as we reach Kansas City just before midnight. I haul my bags out of the station into the humid night air and am promptly met by the almost-full moon. It is a quick ride to my room, a night of sleeping and then off to the conference to share stories with storytellers!
The blue moon keeps me company on the evening walks back and forth between events. It looks different surrounded by tall buildings and city lights, but it is the same. I notice a cab driver watching the moon. I stop to chat with her.
“I know this one is special,” she says, “but I don’t know why.”
I am happy to tell her about the blue moon … only happens every year and a half I tell her. “In fact,” I say, “the next July blue moon will be in 2034.” I tell her all the information I know about this spectacular event … folklore (pick berries and flowers during a blue moon), the Indonesian volcano, Krakatoa in 1883, which actually caused the moon to be blue because of the dust particles.
We watch the moon together on this night in Kansas City, just me and the taxi driver. She laughs at my stories and tells me I know a lot of stuff. Then she says, “You smell good.” I answer back “Patchouli.” She asks me if I would sit in her cab for a moment so the cab would smell good. We both laugh. I need to go to the evening session of the conference.
I wave farewell and I head off down the street. Perhaps it is true that you just never know who you will meet under the blue moon.
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. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.