When I attended Troy University, music played across the quad in the middle of the campus. One day, as I walked to class, John Denver’s song of Country Roads elicited a longing in me. Tears coursed down my cheeks as I longed for the place from my childhood, the farm outside of Opp, Alabama where my grandmother lived. It was a place where my cousins and I played in the barn, using square bales of hay to build forts, houses, or mazes. It was a place filled with teasing from aunts and uncles and the air was thick with laughter. It was a place of fresh vegetables from the garden, fresh milk from a cow, and fresh meat from hog killings. It was a place of playing outside all day in the fresh country air. It was a place of cows and pigs and the place I learned where baby pigs came from. It was a place of delight at seeing newborn pigs, all pink and round and not at all like their long-snouted mother. It was a place of my roots, a place near the farms where, for several generations, my ancestors had lived and struggled to grow crops and raise cows, pigs, and chickens.
It was a place where my family gathered for Thanksgiving and other holidays. It was a place we ate our fill and then gathered by the fireplace, watching the flickering flames. It was a place we cracked pecans on the bricks of the hearth while listening to my uncles trying to undo one another in the telling of jokes. It was the place I loved the most upon this earth.
It was the place I longed for when John Denver sang: Take me home, country roads, to the place I belong.
It was the place stories were told of days gone by. And it is the place I am the most thankful to have known.