The Ladies Page

COUNTRY ECHOES

Water Wheel

A model I made of my Father's old water wheel, with all wooden gears and pulley. Courtesy of Lonnie O. Gunter, Sr., 404 Johnstown Road, Beckley, West Virginia 25801.

Lonnie O. Gunter

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It is early on the morning of our fortieth wedding anniversary. How different is the climate and area from where we were forty years ago this morning. We are in Los Angeles where our eldest son, his wife, and two daughters are living at present.

When we came back from our honeymoon way back then, it was sixteen degrees below zero. Here we have just seen a humming bird outside the window. And two days ago we visited Lake Havasu where a man named McCullough, I believe, imported the London Bridge and rebuilt it on the Arizona desert. Already there is a sizeable city there and promise of much more growth.

As we drove toward Lake Havasu the scenery was some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The mountains were magnificent. The only thing that marred our complete enjoyment were the signs reading FLASH FLOOD AREA NEXT TWELVE MILES, or SIX MILES or EIGHT MILES. They were too numerous for our entire peace of mind.

We arrived safely, knowing we would have to return over those same roads. But once we were inside those attractive gates our fears were forgotten. What an experience to hear an imitation of Old Ben sounding out the hours! I didn't dare let myself go into the China Shop. Not as sold as I am on English china! My good husband bought me a Roadrunner sitting atop what is supposed to be an authentic piece of the London Bridge.

I have been looking in vain for a live one as we travel along. I think he is hoping I will give up looking and quit talking about Roadrunners. Now I have a composition one, on rock, to take home with me. So, as I am thinking about him, I am also looking forward to this evening. Our family is taking us out to dinner.

And a great experience it was. We ate at the world-famous Sea Lion at Malibu Beach. When the tide is high, and the wind boisterous, the waves splash up over the windows beside the table where you are dining. But for us, the surfers playing in the waves were interesting to watch, and the open fire in the central part of the eating area was cheerful and homey. Best of all, of course, was the family companionship of the occasion and all the memories which came flooding in. The tide was not high so the water stayed far below us.

After selecting and eating what we hoped was our favorite kind of fish, we drove to Fisherman's Wharf at Marina Del Rey. We went down some steps into a floating boat with glass sides where we could observe much marine life we had never seen before. There were Leopard Sharks, and dark colored plain ones. There were sizeable sting rays, flapping their elephant-colored wings and starfish clinging to underground rocks. Most startling of all was a huge gray-green turtle plowing his way through the illuminated water. He seemed to say, 'Here I am, you lucky people. Take a good look at me.' Now and again his dark shadow would appear as we watched all these strange residents of our oceans.

I suppose all these creatures of the sea, partially penned up as they are, have a message for us who have been in double harness for so long a time. Marriage does put us on restrictions united to love and responsibility. We don't fly or sail entirely free after the 'I do' is said, but how blessed it is to look back and see the accomplishment of pulling together.

And certainly a great thankfulness fills our hearts to think we are blessed by still being together. Several women friends of mine are widows. And our four boys and two girls are all happily married and there are seven grandchildren.

To be in a city, which with all the outlying district totals nearly 3,000,000 people now, is a far cry from the environs which surrounded the country kids we were back in the early years after 1909 and 1910. How absurd a cream separator running or our fly-netted horses pulling a load of feed to town would look in comparison to these hectic freeways. And how about a steam engine followed by a threshing machine? And yet how vividly we remember all of this. How different the conditions amidst which the girls here are growing up. And, of course as loving grandparents we are concerned.

Perhaps the most cherished blessing of county living is one's time to be alone and under conditions where it is much easier to think things through. And yet, here in this quiet home set on a hill, with a beautiful patio hung out almost over the street, one can be surprisingly alone. The neighbors seem not to exist at all. The children in the playground across the street at the rear of the house send their joyous clamor into the morning air. Their enthusiasm is a contagious thing. We can see Gail playing there and she waves to us. Cindy's school is farther away and she travels by bus.

So as we reflect on these past forty years we agree wholeheartedly that the best thing of all is that God is looking down on this area with the same loving concern with which He looks down on us in Wisconsin. I seem to see Him shedding some tears over all of us.

From the Arizona desert to the streets of L. A. man in his zeal keeps building, building, building. And so he must to live. But after all these forty years I pray we shall again see our spiritual need above everything we build. May we ever pray that our continual labor does not ultimately result in broken cisterns that hold no water.