Just this Saturday, sitting down in the family room –- the TV room –- the toy room –- the place jammed with books, toys, videotapes, etc., -- I had the notes I made at the Bohemian National Cemetery earlier this month, in my hands. Good notes too, reminding me of lots of colorful detail and poignant reflections.
And where are they now? The notes, that is. I wish I knew, but when I find them, I’ll use them to write up a blog. But for the moment, I’ve quit looking, because as I grow older, I realize more and more the zen truth, you can’t find a thing by looking for it.
Probably that has nothing to do with Zen, as practiced in Japan or anywhere else. No matter. I will, however, write about a place that needed less detailed notes: the Royal Oak Orchard, near Harvard, Illinois, where I took the whole family a week ago Saturday. It’s a U-Pick-Em orchard, the sort of place that one never thinks to go without small children. We went to a different one last year, which wasn’t bad, but Royal Oak had a more sophisticated tourist infrastructure. Besides the rows of apple trees open to all pickers, there was a fruit shop, restaurant, souvenir shop, shack shop, playground, petting zoo, rings for campfires, a hayride, and a teepee inscribed with Bible verses.
More about that last one later. It was a fine day for picking, sunny and warm, and we had a pleasant drive into the exurbs. The orchard is about five miles east of Harvard, a town hard against the Illinois-Wisconsin line. I’d estimated that it would take an hour to get there; Yuriko thought it would be two hours; it worked out to be an hour and a half, true to the spirit of compromise in a marriage.
We got down to the business of picking apples, yellow ones and red ones and colors in between, with variety names that I don’t recall (guess I could use some notes). Regardless of their names, they were all tasty apples. Many of them were low enough for Lilly to reach, and even Ann sampled a number of different ones, though actual picking was a little beyond her.
Afterwards we repaired to the picnic area to eat lunch. A sign prohibited outside food, that is, picnic lunches such as the one we brought, but we ignored this. Pop Christian music played unobtrusively, but distinctly, from a speaker near the snack shop. Curious, but purveying apples and spreading the Gospel doesn’t seem mutually exclusive.
Later, Lilly and Ann spent time on the playground, which included two miniature houses and the usual climbing apparatus. I took a close look at the teepee, which I’d noticed as we came in (hard to miss). It was a stucco teepee, painted pastel colors, and fairly large, maybe 30 feet in diameter at the base and two stories high. It had doorframes with doors, and inside there were illuminated EXIT signs, fire extinguishers and other paraphernalia of modern building codes. There was a video monitor fixed to the wall and some benches to sit and watch it, but nothing was playing.
I also noticed, written on the side of the teepee, Bible verses. I think there were six verses all the way around, and I only remember that one was from the Book of Jonah. A testimonial teepee? Whose idea was it? Inspired by a verse in Leviticus? (There must be something about teepees in there, or Israelite tents in the shape of teepees, and rules for their construction.) (St. Paul, if I remember right, was a teepee maker.)
Anyway, we left with our half-peck of apples and I my Bible lesson. It was a good day trip.