Walking Alone In The Fresh Virginia Air

by Sherry Riter in Dad,Family,My Childhood,Sherry

The moment the fresh air wrapped around me as I opened the door to leave work, I let the long day wash away. Before going home, I decided to take a walk because the temperature in Richmond, Virginia, was perfect today. It wasn’t just beautiful – it was perfect. The wind barely blew my hair away from my face and the coolness of the air was crisp.

This time of year is always bittersweet. It marks the end of so many things in my life and yet it is the beginning of my favorite time of year – fall and winter. The weather was so perfect, I actually forgave the sun for all those sweltering summer days of unbearable humidity and heat.

With every step, I started thinking about Dad. We both walk with lanky steps that are more a stroll than a walk. It seems like just yesterday when I was a little girl sitting next to him in the borrowed truck. With each step in the cool night air, I slipped further into the past…

My great grandparents, Daddy Cecil and Mama Minnie, had a farm with all kinds of lovely things like kittens, chickens, cows, a big Gumball tree, a creaky porch swing and a ton of other things that are embedded in my fond childhood memories of them.

A forest butted up to the far edge of the pasture on their farm and it was filled with Pine trees. Thousands of Pine trees loomed high into the sky. Dad kept pine straw (dried pine needles that had fallen off the branches) in the flowerbeds of our home to keep out the weeds and protect the plants. With all the Pine trees in the forest on his grandparents’ property, obtaining enough pine straw to cover all the flowerbeds wasn’t a problem at all.

Dad owned a car, so he must have borrowed a truck to haul the pine straw. I was so young sitting on the front seat of the truck with him and the windows were rolled down, so my bright orange curls were blowing on my head. In order to get to the forest, Dad had to drive super slow over the pasture because it was just massive bumps.

No matter how slow Dad drove, when we hit a bump, my body would lift off the seat because no one wore seat belts back in those days. The first time it happened, I jerked my head to look at him. Dad made his eyes big and opened his mouth feigning surprise. I remember that he looked so funny to me that I just started laughing. Then we hit another bump and once again his face took on the animated shocked look which caused me to giggle and laugh.

It didn’t take but a few bumps before Dad was sincerely laughing too. I had my tiny hand holding his leg to keep my balance, but sometimes I still fell against his side. He would almost stop the truck to help me sit upright and then he would hit another bump which had us both laughing again.

I know that the distance we traveled wasn’t far at all, but it took us what seemed like forever to cross the pasture and reach the edge of the forest. At the very edge of the forest, the ground was flat so I wasn’t being tossed and bounced as he looked for a place to stop the truck. There was a huge gap between the trees and that’s where he backed the truck up almost into the forest.

He slightly patted my bare white leg and told me to stay in the truck. I got on my knees and stared out the back window watching him lankily stroll into the forest, gather the pine straw, lankily walk back and fill the bed of the truck with it. When he finally got back inside and was sitting behind the steering wheel, he was all sweaty and his hands were dirty. I had a “thing” about not getting dirty back then, so I scooted more towards the middle of the truck.

Dad must have known that I didn’t want to touch him because he was dirty and I guess that is all the encouragement he needed. He was, after all, still a very young man. Instead of driving super careful back across the pasture, I think his goal was to see me bounce off the seat when he hit a bump. Of course, all I could do to stay upright was hold the material of his pants tighter while I laughed and giggled until my sides hurt.

Tonight, as I took a deep breath of the cool air that hinted of the impending change in seasons, I thought of those tender moments with Dad, wishing that he was still alive and hadn’t died so suddenly. It would have been nice to walk arm in arm with him today and talk about that silly day with the pine straw.

1965 Sherry Lanky Tall Dad

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mom September 12, 2012 at 2:21 am

I remember taking that picture and making your outfit. Glad you had nice memories and that it was a day to do that. Hope your day will be a good one.

That was a Pontiac – no air. Wow! Long ago. That was our trashcan too. He always picked it up when he got home. Notice how you have shoes on and lace socks? You would not go barefoot outside, lol. You were a little priss.


2 Sherry Riter September 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Thanks Mom and thanks for the other information you sent about this day. I’m going to add it all to the post so that it will be a very complete account of the moment capture in this photo. {{{hugsss}}}


3 Skip_D September 12, 2012 at 3:03 am

What sweet memories… yes, bittersweet, but nonetheless charming. I love the photo of you & your dad! This is a difficult time of year for me too, for similar reasons, & yet the signs of approaching fall are very welcome. Thanks, as always, for sharing your memories!


4 Sherry Riter September 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

My pleasure, Skip!


5 Susanne September 12, 2012 at 5:54 am

Hi, First of all I’d like to say that I’m sorry that your Dad was chosen to walk with God so early in your life. However, I truly believe that your Dad is with you all of the time.Granted, you cannot see him, but if you pause and empty your mind, you will know that he is next to you. Go ahead and talk to him about that silly day with the pine straw and anything else you might like to discuss or ask. Perhaps a response won’t come in the traditional way, but you will receive one. Just the act of talking to him may be enough…..

Sending hugs to my friend in Virginia!
P.S. Fall is my favorite season. Winter has its moments too, mostly just before the shovelling commences and your nose hairs freeze..lol! Running joke from the time I spent living in California.
Don’t forget to believe….


6 Sherry Riter September 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

LOL Freezing nose hairs. Lovely visual. LOL


7 Shirley September 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I have enjoyed this blog off and on for some time. Today your headline about the Virginia air attracted me. I am trying to get to know other writers in Virginia. Glad to know you fit the category.

This post was beautiful. Understated. Passionate. Just like the crisp air enveloping you.


8 Sherry Riter September 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Thank you so much Shirley! {{{hugssss}}}


9 Joan September 15, 2012 at 6:53 am

I read this piece and the writing was so wonderful that all I kept thinking to myself was, “When is she going to write that book?”

The picture of you with your father is adorable! Even then you had a serious look on your face like you were taking everything in so that you could write about it years later! 🙂


10 Sherry Riter September 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm

LOL Yeah, I had my face all scrunched up because I squint in the sunshine. I still do! Same face every time I go outside. LOL


11 Ric Fox September 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

that is beautifully written


12 Sherry Riter September 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Thank you so much. It was heartfelt.


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