Lovin’ that country livin’ and dreamin’

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It’s good to be back in Union Parish on a regular basis.

Actually, I’m still a Ruston resident, but now – as a Union Parish native – I’ll be joining you every two weeks as a regular Gazette columnist.

My column, “The Journey,” and I think the best way to introduce myself to my readers is to take a nostalgic look at my childhood. Where we grow up undoubtedly influences who we are, and my early years in Union Parish definitely laid the foundation for the Sallie Rose Hollis of today.

So I’d like to share those thoughts and words with you this week, slightly updated to align with the current global situation.

And as you read, remember: “Beautiful memories are like old friends. They may not always be on your mind, but they are forever in your heart.” – Susan Gale

I grew up in the country. Union Parish to be more specific. Rocky Branch to be precise. I cherish the memories of my childhood there.

Winding backroads, swimming holes on both Bayou D’Arbonne and at the junction of Bayou D’Loutre and the Ouachita River, hay fields, a peach orchard (my father’s), a school house with two grades per room (my mother was the principal), several country stores, and a handful of churches.

Many summer days, my sister and I climbed the fence for the short journey to play cowboys and Indians with our neighbors.

Or we’d play in our own yard where French mulberries and weeds that resembled fried eggs served as the fictional food of choice during tea parties.

I’d ride my bike to the top of the hill behind our house and coast all the way down to the cattle-gap at the end of the driveway. Little did Mama know that often I went waa-a-a-y out to the middle of the highway that passed our house – strictly forbidden.

Under one set of trees, we’d sweep the leaves into patterns that formed “houses” and eat huckleberries from bushes that served as make-believe shrubs. Under another huge oak, we’d build frog houses by framing our feet with mud and then carefully withdrawing them.

There was firefly chasing, watermelon eating, and bushels and bushels of purple-hull peas. At night, my pet banty rooster and hen opened our screen door so we could place them in peachbasket beds.

You’d think all these rural activities surely would have provided every single outdoor pursuit a child could desire. But looking back through the dimness of time, I envision other possible feats. Things I saw in movies or read about in books. Things that still sound, oh, so fun.

My biggest unfulfilled wish: to while away the hours beside a babbling brook, creating sailboats from leaves and watching them drift around the bend, far away into some unknown world.

Of course, I could still do that. I could find the brook. I could find the leaves. But it wouldn’t be the same. An adult’s mind just doesn’t process things as a child’s.

And therein lies the lesson: Why not seek to fulfill our dreams when we can? Why tarry? True, oft-times – and maybe especially today – we’re hindered from doing this or that. But after an assessment, if dream pursuit IS an option, why not begin the quest?

Want to sing? After we can join society again, find a choral group. Swim? Take lessons. Travel? Consider the options and make wise choices. For the frugal: Read that classic. For the eternally minded: Get your spiritual life in order.

Who knows what the morrow will bring? Chase those dreams as we chased those fireflies. You owe it to yourself – and your dreams.

Sallie Rose Hollis is a Union Parish native, retired Louisiana Tech associate professor of journalism and Ruston resident. She can be reached via email at sallierose@mail.com.