It was the beginning of summer. Wild strawberries perked their red cheeks toward the sun embracing its warmth. The sweet aroma flung like a pendulum driven by tiny gusts of wind. Songs from various types of birds chirped clearly and intermittently after the sound of a cow mooed, or a rooster crowed like an unsung hero.
We were at play, my friend and I. She showed me around the farm, and every animal there was to see, every building, every hayloft had a story. Lost in our amusement, I suddenly realized a car was departing the scene. It was our car. What about me? I couldn’t believe my eyes for a moment. Dust flew up in the air and lingered for a minute or two choking the two of us. The road had two sand burrows for front and rear tires, with grass growing in between. Kind of bumpy, for there weren’t any graders to pass back then, the road had begun with a trail and later became a fairly decent passageway.
“They’ve left me behind!” I murmured to my friend. I began to run so she wouldn’t see the tears whelming up and the fear slouching my shoulders. “Bye.”
“Don’t you go and get lost now, you hear?” she answered, as she skipped her way back to her house.
“I’ll be fine.” Her mind was at peace; her parents home to care for her. Mine had left me just like that.
I yelled, but nobody heard me. I just couldn’t catch up no matter how fast I ran. Soon I came to a fork in the road. All signs of dust had disappeared. I knew one trail led to the main road, but the other probably led to a pasture where the farmer grew his crops. Or maybe, it might it led to a dense forest where he cut wood for the winter. I sat on the grassy part of the road sobbing. How could they do this to me? Don’t they care anymore? What had I done to be left behind? I couldn’t think of any answers. Fear of wolves or bears pouncing on me at any moment added to my distress.
I had passed first grade and this was going to be a fun summer. Not to have to wake up early to go to school and to put on a tunic and those ugly brown stockings. Mine were held up with elastic bands which dug into my upper thighs. I felt free as a bird. No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks. My classmates and I chanted that rhyme the final days of school.
Now here I found myself, with a choice that would either lead me deeper into the woods or on the right path. But which was it? I cried my heart out. Please God! Help me make the right choice. My first prayer of intensity has taken place and I continued praying the prayers I had learned once I chose a path.
Lo and behold, God had answered my prayer. I reached the main road. A few cars passed me. To this day, I can’t imagine why they didn’t stop because I was just a small kid. Didn’t they wonder why I would be alone on a road several miles from town?
In a way I was happy they didn’t. Knowing my way home now, it was all I wanted. Until ….
There were farmers in that area with herds of cattle. A few days or weeks prior to this day, a woman had been killed by a bull. Dad had come home with the horrible news. Of course, I didn’t know the difference between a cow or a bull at that time, because I grew up in the village. They all looked the same to me. When I reached the edge of the field, I heard a lot of mooing. I was wearing red. Bulls don’t like red, I had learned. It makes them angry for some reason.
Fortunately for me, I thought to crouch into the ditch on the other side of the road. Crawling about a mile on my hands and knees, and occasionally peeping upward to see whether one had escaped the fence-line, I later decided I should take a shortcut across the woods because I had come to a curve in the road.
No. Better not do that. It would be my luck to get lost in the woods once more. So I carried on. Once I reached the end of the field and no more cows were in sight, I got off my knees. Continuing my walk, and adding a skip and a jump to my step, because I heard the church bell chime, I knew I would soon be seeing the beginning of the village.
Suddenly, I heard a car pull up behind me. Afraid to look back, I began to run but the vehicle followed me. I better stop. If they try to catch me, I will run into the bush. While turning my head, I heard, “Do you want a ride?”
“No, I can walk the rest of the way.”
“Don’t be silly. I think you walked far enough for one day.” It was mom and dad along with my baby brother.
Anger sprung up within my heart. Where were you when I needed you most?
They hugged and kissed me in relief telling me their whole story. How dad and the Mr. had gone out to look at some wood, and when they had come back, found out I was missing.
I don’t know who was more relieved, but after that, I believed that God was the one who heard my plea and delivered me safely back to my home. That happened sixty-years ago.