Whole New World

Heading southwest on the Illinois River.

It’s a beautiful world out there; far beyond what we can imagine. Being immersed in new places, new people, and first ever experiences, does more than make us appreciate seeing the world anew. It makes us feel old and familiar feelings in new ways. David and I were making a list of the things that are old and new at the same time. Things that are unexpected and familiar too. The things we covered seemed infinite because literally everything raises the feeling that we keep “getting new eyes”.

This conversation began a long time ago but became more earnest when we arrived at Passini’s Henry Harbor Marina. We had been told that the marina wall was an old lock wall and that it was “extremely rough” however; what we found was the most beautiful marina wall in a place that was filled with light and love. From the first text message from our host, Mary Frances Passini (who wears her office on her back), through all our moments there, we continually reflected on how there seemed to be nothing more beautiful than that old lock wall that was waiting for us against a backdrop of the Illinois River, an aging local bridge, 5 dimensional clouds, and warm sunshine. And Mary Francis, she is one of the hardest working women I have ever met. She wears her big heart on her sleeve and lives a life that she and her husband are creating to preserve the past and make the future better for everyone; for their friends in Henry who love the river life, and for Loopers like us who are so appreciative of safe and welcoming harbors.

IRENE on the new old wall in Henry, Illinois.
A lot of life flowing through this place.
Geese are the ultimate alarm clock in Henry.
White Pelicans appreciating a day on the river too.

We rose early from Henry to continue on to Peoria, IL. For us, it was a short travel day, but the conversation of “old and new” things continued. One of David’s favorite topics is “food”. For some context, David loves about 10 things and likes a few more. His favorites are rooted in the meals his mother cooked and served to his family. He likes meat. He likes all the white food: cheese, bread, butter, potatoes, white fish (i.e. haddock, walleye, cod), shrimp and milk. Somehow, few meals quite reach the height of the deliciousness his mom made however; this trip has freed up his taste buds with appreciation for others to make his “old favorites” really well. “New old” favorites include: the shrimp at Rick’s on Jekyll Island, GA, that feed on sweetgrass from the creeks; crab cakes from his sister Kathie’s in Maryland; chicken Marsala from Nicolino’s in Amsterdam, NY; walleye from The Cove in Leland, MI; pizza from Chuckwagon in Ludington, MI; the filet at Joe’s Steakhouse in Chicago; the fries at DuSable Harbor; pork chops at Red Dog Grill at Heritage Harbor; and the pot roast at Jim’s Bistro in Peoria (to name a few). I think it’s pretty cool that after 74 years of life, 29 years of being together, and a whole lot of eating, that David is discovering how amazingly delicious life is, literally.

David’s larger than life sized portion of “outstanding” Pot Roast at Jim’s Bistro in Peoria 😉
IRENE on the dock at the Illinois Valley Yacht Harbor (IVY)

That’s it, friends. No great literary moments here today, only simple reflections on beauty, the natural world, the waterways, some history, a hard working woman, the impact of our mamas, the food of our families, changing, growing and the interconnectedness of it all.

But if you love a great poem, here’s one just for you.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile, the world goes on.
Meanwhile, the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile, the wild geese, high in the clear blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

-Mary Oliver

10 thoughts on “Whole New World

  1. kathyyost01

    Uplifting update!  I am glad you and David are tracking your new and old experiences!  Reminds me of the everything old is new again comment!Energized taste buds….nice! Love the photos, love your observations.   Love you both♥️♥️ Stay safe, enjoy your time.  See you soon. All my love, Kathy

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

  2. Wendy McGrath

    Beautiful!! All of it! Such a gift that you share it with all of us this way and in all of the countless ways your love extends beyond the boundaries of time and space. And oh, that Mary Oliver poem! It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve read it, it never fails to cause a swell of emotion in me. ❤

  3. Jennifer & Ed

    Beautiful post and beautiful reflections. And our mouths are watering over that pot roast! Love you guys! ❤️


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