Editor's note: A version of this column ran three years ago this week. The reason for running it again is explained at the end.
The night sky surrounding the little house on the country road bears a blackness city dwellers seldom see — and a light.
It is the blackness of the vast universe filtering through the atmosphere unchallenged by the gaudy neon and bright sodium vapor of the city lights.
It's the light of a billion billion stars burning beyond our solar system. They could be the funereal embers of a sun long dead or the cosmic birth of a new star. It's planets and moons casting both an eerie and inspiring glow to guide the paths of lovers and poets, dreamers and scientists.
The blackness is a symbol of the serenity of the countryside. It's as close as mere mortals get to the stars without leaving the Earth, and as close as one can get to oneself. It's the blackness that lets through the light rather than the false light that struggles to hide the heavens.
The country road is filled with a calming quiet — and a joyous noise.
It is the quiet of not having cars and trucks rumble and zoom past in a constant flow that dwindles with the darkness but never seems to cease. The city lights even hiss and hum as though sneering at the night.
The quiet is filled with the noise of nature, the raucous chorus of insect and animal croaking, chirping and hooting that can reach a riotous crescendo in the hours after sunset. Later it is the wind rustling through the leaves or the lingering song of the cicada.
Trees vibrate with the piping of avian gossipers, and hummingbirds are more plentiful than pickup trucks and minivans. In the winter it is the subtle, soothing sound of wind sighing and whistling in the trees and uncaulked crannies of the house.
The countryside bubbles and breathes with a cleanliness — and a colorful clutter.
It's the cleanliness of air, earth and water free of urban pollution. Of creeks and streams gurgling clear to the bottom with minnows, turtles, crawfish and myriad other lifeforms thriving without fear of chemically induced genetic alteration.
And it's the clutter of roadsides and fields awash with wildflowers, grasses and trees that dazzle the eye and challenge an artist's skill. It forms a frame for the little house on the country road.
It's Mom's house.
It's where love lives.
(Every week since we moved to Indiana I've saved my columns, originally for both Mom and Dad to read, and, since Dad's death 18 years ago, just for Mom. They will be reading them over my shoulder as I write them from now on. Mom died this week at age 93. I hope they don't mind reading this repeat.)