Embers from the Fire
A weekly blog by Deacon Dan Wagnitz for the Quad-Parish Community
Everyplace is Home to Somebody – 11/22/2020
In the week before Christmas in 1989 we were on a cross-country homecoming trip. I had taken a promotion four years earlier that involved relocation to Nevada. This much happier trip was the journey back home as I was again promoted, but this time to our Corporate Office in Green Bay. Steve Bacon, our Quality Control Manager was also moving to the Corporate Office so we agreed to drive together – at least as far as the southeast corner of South Dakota. That’s where he was originally from, and it was where he was going to spend Christmas before completing the rest of his trip to Green Bay.
It was early in the morning when we left a cloudy and cool Henderson, Nevada and drove north to Salt Lake City to catch Interstate 80 and head east. Darkness settled in as we made it to Wyoming and the first snowstorm we had been in for four years. We were all happy to see the lights and exit for Rock Springs. When we got up the next morning it was a rude awakening. There was about 10 inches of fresh powder on the ground and the thermometer couldn’t make it above zero. I actually had to walk over to the gas station and buy a snowbrush and an icer scraper.
That second day we made it to North Platte, Nebraska. We woke up on day three of our journey to 10 degrees below zero. The plan that day was to head due north to Interstate 90 and then follow that east to Steve’s turnoff. He asked if he could have our son Nathan ride along with him for company because his cat was no longer speaking to him.
That two-lane highway that we followed went through some small hills and a very occasional cottonwood grove but I don’t remember any towns. The only other thing on the road was an occasional little ground cloud of snow smoke that the wind blew across. All there was to see was miles and miles of snowy plains.
I recall that I had just looked over at Michelle and was asking her if she had ever seen such an empty stretch of nothingness in her whole life when Steve caught our attention as he drove ahead of us by a couple hundred feet. He was pumping his fist in the air excitedly. About the time we started thinking “temporary insanity” and wondering about Nathan’s safety, we saw it. It was a plain white sign with black letters nailed a little crookedly to one of those cottonwoods. It simply read, “South Dakota”. It didn’t strike us as impressive or even all that welcoming, but to Steve he was home. Seemingly endless
nothingness to us, but it was everything to Steve. Everyplace is home to somebody.
We saw it again at our backyard bird feeder these past weeks. No sooner had the redwings and bluebirds and indigo buntings and white throated sparrows moved out and headed south than the juncos moved in. This is their south. They have spent the warmer months way north in the endless conifers of Canada, and now they have settled right in to spend the winter with us. Nothing stays abandoned in nature. Life always overcomes emptiness. Everyplace is home to somebody.