I have lived in Chicago for almost a decade. By now, I consider myself a city girl. But there are days when I want to sit down to a plate full of blue gill and hear the words, "Hi, baby doll." from a server I just met.
When I was young, I couldn't wait to leave my hometown of just over ten thousand. But there are small things that draw me back. Things like pecans harvested from a neighbor's tree that were destined for Fudge-Pecan Pie.
During the final hours of my trip, I wait for the scalloped wings of hawks to appear in the sky, like finely crafted kites. I read billboards that tempt drivers with fast food. Others offer a proper southern meal. Their lineup - chicken, corn bread, cobbler - is more inviting. I stop for a glass of ice tea and a zing of caffeine to push through the last of my six hour journey south.Soon I see the greenish waters of the Big Muddy River, which still inspires stories (and sightings) of the Big Muddy Monster. The terrain is voluptuous down here, and I'm privy to that well kept secret. I know if I drive further up the road, the land will rise and dip. Houses will give way to apple trees and peach orchards and other fruit that's fit for pie.