A Return To My Native Land

I moved to Southern Illinois in the summer between seventh and eighth grade. Our family had done a steady slide downstate from the time I was born in Chicago: Chicago. Clinton. Decatur. And then Carbondale. Every three years and always because my father had changed jobs. We were hostages, we kids. Caught in the drama of Dad’s decisions.

Returning to visit my sister, Karen, causes familiar memories to flood my mind. I know this place. I know these streets and houses and I know this unbearable humidity. How did we survive, I wonder. I can’t fathom functioning here in the summertime—going about one’s business, working, playing. I remember riding my bike on blacktop so hot it’s melted surface slowed my progress.

I like being back here…chose to come…but I begin to question my timing. August in Southern Illinois can make you grumpy. But there are the peaches out at Rendleman’s orchards and the huge field of zinnias they’ve planted nearby, with butterflies and bees busily collecting pollen in the white heat. Perhaps we’ll make a cobbler and top it with ice cream.


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