Intersection Column | Meadowland—A Place to Heal
by Ann H. Gabhart
I’m a country girl. I grew up on a farm in Kentucky where my dad grew tobacco, corn and hay. We had cows and sheep. We also had hens for eggs mostly for personal use, but my mother sometimes traded a few dozen for groceries at the country store. Cats and dogs were my pets. But best of all, I had the fields and woods to inspire and grow my love of nature.
I still live on a farm in Kentucky, and I still love all the gifts of nature from the sunshine in the daytime to the stars glittering at night. I think spending time in the great outdoors can be healing if a person has a troubled spirit and awe inspiring at any time. I take my dogs, Frankie and Marley, on a walk out across the fields of my farm every day where I get to see the wonders of nature, from the delicate beauty of the smallest wildflower to the grace of a whitetail deer leaping over fences as it races out of sight.
You may think I’m chasing down rabbit trails and wonder what all this has to do with my story, When a Meadow Blooms. I promise the trails do lead somewhere. The settings of the various scenes in this book are important to what happens with my characters. The story starts in 1925 with two sisters in an orphanage while their mother is being treated for tuberculosis at a sanatorium. Fourteen-year-old Calla is dealing with that, but Sienna, at nine, is not. Sienna has an innate love of all God’s creatures. She loves not only those considered beautiful such as butterflies and songbirds, but also those not as universally admired like spiders and snakes. Being closed up in the orphanage with little or no opportunity to be part of the natural world has made the time extremely difficult for Sienna as she continually gets in trouble with those in charge.
Sienna needs a place to heal. What better place than a pastoral farm along a small river in the middle of Kentucky? When I considered how Sienna and Calla needed a fresh start in life after the hardships they’d endured, I let their uncle decide to rescue them and bring them and their mother to Meadowland. Due to physical scars from injuries received in a fire and emotional scars from the loss of the girl he planned to marry, the uncle has lived a reclusive life at Meadowland. For him, his farm is a safe haven.
While I’m far from a recluse, I have felt that same attachment to land as a place to find peace and spiritual renewal. So, when creating my Meadowland setting and then bringing my young sisters there, I pulled from my own feelings about how I loved country life as a girl.
My childhood farm wasn’t close to a river, but other farms here in my area are. The bottomlands on those farms have wide meadows near the river. Some friends let me walk across their farm to get a feeling for the lay of the land down in those riverside fields. I walked through those fields and watched the river flow past, the way my characters were going to do in my story. Although it was late winter then, I had no trouble imagining the flowers that might bloom there the same as the daisies, Queen Anne’s lace, black-eyed Susans and more that brighten up the meadow hayfields on my farm in the spring and summer.
I also had no problem imagining how such a farm could be a place of healing for a child who loved nature. At the orphanage, Sienna wishes for a mouse to show up to be her friend. On the farm, mice prove to be more elusive than she thought they would be, but she does make friends with some crows that bring her treasures.
The best treasures for Sienna and for Calla too are the love they and their mother share and the hope for a forever home at Meadowland. But even in a place as wonderful as Meadowland, difficulties can arise.
I enjoyed being able to go back in time and be a child again, discovering the joys of nature through my characters, Sienna and Calla. While the farm where I grew up had more rocky fields and trees than meadows, I will never forget my many walks through those fields and woods. At the time, I didn’t know that someday I would be pulling up those memories again to bring the setting to life for my story, When the Meadow Blooms.
About the Author
Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of Along a Storied Trail, An Appalachian Summer, River to Redemption, These Healing Hills and Angel Sister, along with several Shaker novels—The Refuge, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed and The Gifted. She and her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her grandchildren and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.
About the Book
Surely at her brother-in-law's Kentucky farm, Rose and her daughters can recover from the events of the recent past—the loss of her husband during the 1918 influenza epidemic, her struggle with tuberculosis that required a stay at a sanatorium and her girls' experience in an orphanage during her illness. At Meadowland, hope blooms as their past troubles become rich soil in which their faith can grow.
Did You Know?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorders.
Emotional symptoms include the following: feelings of apprehension or dread; feelings of tenseness or jumpiness; restlessness or irritability; anticipating the worst outcomes in all situations
Physical symptoms include the following: pounding or racing heart; sweating; headaches, fatigue, insomnia; upset stomach and/or frequent urination or diarrhea
According to NAMI, physical symptoms can often be confused with other medical illnesses like heart disease and high blood pressure. Because of this, doctors must perform evaluations to rule out the aforementioned illnesses before a diagnosis of anxiety can be reached.
The NAMI site further explains that the causes of anxiety can be divided into two categories: genetics and environment. Treatment can include psychotherapy, medications and healthy approaches to dealing with stress, like learning relaxation techniques. I know the latter well which is why I created my latest devotional/journal. You see, I understand what anxiety feels like and have seen the hand of God wipe it from my life.
-Andrea Boeshaar, Let It Go!
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