Despite growing up in the suburbs, my siblings and I were often treated to a taste of the country life by our parents. Before the family got too big to fit in one car, my Dad enjoyed taking us on leisurely drives to Moundsville to visit my Mom's sister Louise and Uncle Foxy.
For years those trips were made in the big, old DeSoto until the station wagon appeared at the curb in front of the house.
Along the way we viewed the sprawling hillsides where cows and horses grazed side by side.
Once we swore we saw remnants of a flying saucer in one of those fields. I'm sure in reality, it was nothing more than some type of abandoned farm machinery but it allowed our imaginations to soar.
In those days none of us wore earphones connected to cellphones, nor did we have our eyes fixated onto an Ipad or Notebook screen. I don't even know if the car radio was on because we made our own noise playing "car games" or just pointing out something interesting along the road.
My brothers particularly enjoyed playing "Slug Bug" in the car because it gave them a legitimate reason to punch one another in the arm upon seeing a Volkswagon Beetle (Slug Bug) on the road.
Our indoctrination to the ways of country living also included summer visits "out the creek" to the Hamms' camp along Big Wheeling Creek. The drive out the creek road in Marshall County took us past the Elm Grove Drive-In and Langmyer's Farm until we reached the narrow road along tall corn stalks that led to the Hamms' camp.
Sometimes we would stop at the farm and pick up some sweet corn and sun-warmed tomatoes picked that morning to add to the picnic lunch we would enjoy later that day.
Once at the camp, our parents set us loose. Wearing our creek shoes (old tennis shoes), we spent hours fishing, pushing each other around in a canoe or just cooling off in the shallow water. The moms would play cards on the deck outstretched over the creek while watching the babies napping in their playpens. The dads manned the barbecue grills between throwing horseshoes onto metal posts.
I have fond memories of those days including playing with Barbie dolls with my classmate Carol. We shared the same last name but weren't officially related. It didn't matter, because our dads were best friends and golfing buddies, and those shared outings at the camp made us all family.
Carol passed away this week after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. Her family said she fought a brave fight against the disease that has robbed the world of a sweet woman. I know she no longer needs that wheelchair. And I truly believe that today she is dipping her toes into the refreshing water of a heavenly creek while listening to the clang of horseshoes and her father's deep laugh.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.