Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 25, 2014

You might miss the things you now take for granted

Jul 12, 2013

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

 

It’s been hot lately. Too hot. The kind of hot that makes me want to shave my head and swim through a gigantic lime slushy.

I wouldn’t actually do that, though. Not only would it be incredibly sticky, but I would make a ridiculous looking bald woman.

Suffering through the heat and humidity that is an Iowa summer for the past three years has always made me a bit nostalgic for home, where the mercury hardly ever reached the 90-degree mark.

Growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan, I was spoiled by the glorious weather phenomenon known as the lake effect. True, it often dumped a lot of snow on us in the winter, but in the summer our weather forecasts always gave the temperature followed by the words “… cooler by the lake.”

I never gave this phrase a second thought until I moved away from the lake and the weathermen on the local news didn’t say those four magical words. It was a bit jarring as I realized that not every forecast in the country ended this way — especially when there are not any lakes in the vicinity.

It’s funny what you take for granted when you’re a kid and you don’t know life any other way.

When I was young, I identified the freeway by the orange barrels that lined the road all of the time. Unaware of the road construction, I believed that the orange construction barrels were special markers that let you know you were driving on the freeway.

So I was really confused when those orange barrels were no longer there — how were we supposed to know where the freeway was now?

This made long road trips to visit my grandparents seem even longer because without the barrels I couldn’t tell when we were close to home. I was always impressed that Daddy somehow knew the way, especially when those barrels appeared on another highway — then I was really lost and confused.

As I got a bit older, I began to understand the highway system a bit more. During my elementary years, Dad taught my older sister and I how to watch out for the green mile marker signs and subtract our town’s exit number to figure out how many miles were left on our trip.

Then I just needed to make sure we were on the right road before I started counting down. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re only a few miles away when you’re on the entirely wrong highway.

Looking back on it from an adult’s perspective, counting down the mile markers was not only a way to stop us from constantly asking, “How much farther?,” but it also helped strengthen our math skills and kept us entertained.

He may have regretted it when we started singing our own version of “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall.” We soon learned, though, that no matter how slowly you sing, “Forty-five more miles to go on this trip… forty-five more miles to go….” you cannot make a verse last the entire mile — not that it stopped us from trying.

Then again, our little duet was probably better than the backseat bickering that would normally occur.

It’s strange — and sad — to think that the days of the four of us making road trips back and forth across Wisconsin are gone and most likely such a trip will never happen again.

It makes me wish I had appreciated the time more as it was taking place.

All those hours trapped in the car, wishing I could get away from my sister and years spent as a teenager counting down the days until I flew away from the nest now seem like time wasted.

But, I was young and impatient, as most young people are. I didn’t realize that what I took for granted I was going to miss when I grew up.

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