The Finer Things in Life

By Kim Seeley

The Finer Things in Life

About seven years ago, I participated in a cross-country road trip with three girlfriends. We packed so much into our journey and saw many national parks and natural and man-made wonders. We “oohed” and “aahed” over the majesty of the Grand Canyon and the sheer grandeur of Yosemite’s El Capitan. We stood in awe of the mystical, almost unearthly volcanic paint pots and geysers, which are native to Yellowstone. We stared in amazement at the General Sherman, the largest living thing in the world, in Sequoia National Park. We witnessed the result of the human ingenuity and skill which climaxed in Mount Rushmore and admired the imagination and detailed work which created the Corn Palace.

After about three weeks on the road, we reached the Great Lakes, which several of us had never seen. Due to an extremely foggy morning, our view was quite limited. From that point on, my diary entries became shorter. We enjoyed lunch in Ohio in an Amish restaurant and remarked on how much our husbands would enjoy the scenic farm views.

However, we drove through the mountains of West Virginia and our home state of Virginia without the rapture and excitement we had experienced in the Rockies and the Grand Tetons. We were tired, it is true, and we were road weary. We missed our husbands and families, and we were all in tears as our trip came to an end. We sang, “Hey, It’s Good to Be Back Home Again,” as we approached our last stretch of highway, as best we could, between tears and outright sobs. We were reunited with our husbands and families, and our lives quickly returned to normal.

But in all honesty, our tears were not just tears of joy at being home; they were tears of sadness, too. We knew we had experienced a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, four middle-aged (ahem) ladies, embarking on a grand quest. And frankly my dears, after Yellowstone and Yosemite, the flat farmland of Virginia, which we all four call home, seemed dull, and yes, boring. There were no canyons, no sweeping vistas, no altitude signs or open range warning signs. Home seemed rather drab.

So it rather surprised me to be talking to one of my fellow road warriors the other day, and we both were in utter awe of our surroundings in our hometown. It is autumn in this agricultural community, and our forests are alive in a vivid palette of orange, red and gold, before the last gasp of November winds drives the leaves away. The cotton fields are a vivid, fluffy vista of pillow-like whiteness against the blue sky. The red and green combines and tractors are busy now, churning away as the area farmers attempt to beat the clock of the cold and rain that is certain to come.

The soybeans have had their heyday just recently, with their leaves turning burnished yellow, sometimes spreading out into fields of gold as far as one can see. The corn is gone now, but it, too, brought a particular beauty. My friend, who is our local sweet corn maven, shared pictures this summer of the bright green stalks of corn with little “creatures of the corn” hidden among the ears. She took a special joy in the lizards and small green snakes that called her cornfield home.

Many of my friends share my love of the smell of freshly-dug peanuts. There is something distinctive about the aroma, something natural and earthy, which is even more delightful than the aroma wafting from our local peanut businesses. I also appreciate the few farmers who shock their peanuts, stacking them on long peanut sticks, the old-fashioned way. Shocking peanuts is a simple reminder of days gone by, and I often wish I were a real photographer when I see them in a small field on the side of the road, drying in the sun.

So what has happened in the seven years since my return from our country’s magnificent Western vistas? Has my little piece of earth changed drastically? No. Have I changed drastically? Perhaps. I have retired and become a grandmother since my cross-country journey. I have aged physically, mentally and emotionally. Most importantly, I have made more of an effort to find and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings, the joy of everyday life.

When I was working full-time, I was not immune to the beautiful colors of autumn or the golden soybean fields. I was simply busier, with more deadlines, more responsibilities and more worries. I now fill my days with my grandchildren, my daughter, my husband, my mother and my friends. I still like to travel, and I do have a few trips left in my bucket list, but I now appreciate the finer things in life. My grandson’s giggle and my granddaughter’s uplifted arms fill my heart in a way no mountain or valley can ever hope to compare. I am able to find beauty in the fields of corn, soybeans, cotton and peanuts that make up most of this community in which I live. The finer things in life are truly all around us. We just need to open our minds and our hearts, along with our eyes, to see them.

About this writer

  • Kim Seeley Kim Seeley, a former librarian and English teacher, lives with her husband, Wayne, in Wakefield, Virginia. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her most recent story, “Amanda’s Jonquils,” can be found in Chicken Soup: Messages from Heaven. She loves to read, play the piano, travel and spend time with her grandson, Evan.

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2 Responses to “The Finer Things in Life”

  1. Wonderful Kim! “The finer things in life are truly all around us. We just need to open our minds and our hearts, along with our eyes, to see them.” So beautifully stated!

    The richness of enjoying the vista’s of elsewhere are an additional enhancement, for the simplicity that surrounds us daily. ~Storm

  2. I enjoyed your artcle, restating my response.

    The richness of enjoying the vistas of elsewhere enhances our appreciation for that which surrounds us. ~Storm :)

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