The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Adventures in Travel: The Conclusion

By Miriam Rutzen - Special For "The Quill"

This conclusion is an invitation to join me on a word picture tour of Home, followed by the answer to the question many have asked me regarding what comes next.

Let's begin with a farewell: with the new school year around the corner, the randomly decorated West Central Elementary Flat Stanley created a year ago is officially retired.

The photo was taken at the end of the school year in May 2017 and shows Flat Stanley with his West Central Elementary school students, which he represented in twenty states and eighteen countries across five continents during the 2016-2017 school year.

There were some wild adventures and many that I won't soon forget.

Still, at the end of the day, it was always a relief to come back Home, so for our conclusion, here are some very familiar sights and sounds.

There are plenty of places that would have made for entertaining Flat Stanley photos in our area: the Henderson Creek covered bridge, the Mississippi River at the lock and dam near Gladstone or at the boat landing in Oquawka, Gladstone Lake, Stronghurst spray park, the Henderson County Library in Biggsville, the West Central school buildings, the Raritan Opera House and the museums down the street, the numerous ball fields across the county, old churches hidden down country lanes, the newly planted Belted Cow Orchard near Rozetta, a fish fry dinner at the Pink in Lomax, the river houses past Carmen, the Media trestle, and other snapshot opportunities of wildlife and beautiful scenery along the roads crisscrossing timber, fields, and bluffs.

But instead of actual photos, my senses played the role of memory-catching camera and as I think back on the last year and how after every round of trips it was a return to home base, the replay of life here includes a brightly colored collage of activities and people.

There were the adventures of substitute teaching in Pre-K through 12th grade classrooms, attending extracurricular activities spanning from ball games to musicals, participating in church events, visiting with friends, giving basketball lessons, going on running binges, coordinating and working camps, weekend trips to visit family, playing in the backyard with kiddos, climbing trees and going on hikes, enjoying the Henderson County Fair from the view of the dunk tank perch, singing songs and playing games at Vacation Bible School, relaxed evenings watching the Cubs play, and waking up to mornings of Dad playing the guitar and the smells coming from the kitchen while Mom made breakfast:

There was the crack of a bat. The cheers of the crowd. Sunsets over the fields and rivers, clouds blazing in color stretched across the panoramic view. The sound of a mower and the smell of freshly trimmed grass.

The gurgle of water under bridges and across rocks, swirling eddies and shadows of fish. The twitch of a deer tail, the scurry of the raccoon, the morning song of birds, the evening song of crickets and frogs.

Storm clouds marching in from the west, stars sparkling overhead, the moon lighting up the landscape in a shimmery gray glow.

Children's laughter at the park, dogs barking, bikers purring by. Cows grazing, pigs grunting, sheep munching. The occasional car, semi truck, or farm vehicle rumbling down the road.

Weight racks clinking, basketballs staccato on the freshly waxed gym floor, football pads smacking, whistles blowing. Teachers rearranging desks, the pattering of feet in the hallway, the rustle of pages turning as young eyes follow along.

The fire crackling, hot dogs sizzling, s'mores crunching. The music playing, windows down, singing along to country songs:This is Home. And I love it.

So now what?

With mixed emotions, that are rooted in excitement because I am confident in this next step, I also will say farewell for now. After August 18th I will begin my next adventure, this one back on the East Coast.

I will be attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia where I will pursue a two-year Master's program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology while also working as a graduate assistant for the Women's Basketball Division I team, the Liberty Flames.

Some buzz words to go with the degree are leadership development, strategic planning, goal setting, team management, consulting, and executive coaching.

With the basketball team I will be assisting in anything from practice management to prepping game film, running around behind the scenes for special events and building our social media base (i.e. follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @LibertyWBB).

This explanation is often followed with a response of, "Cool:But what are you going to actually do with that??"

Well, if you haven't caught on already,

I don't have an answer for you-that would be too easy. But I will enjoy the journey and continue loving on people along the way. One of these days, just maybe, I will sit still. Until then, peace, love, and blessings, and hold down the home front for me. We have a community to treasure.

Miriam Rutzen will be speaking at the Henderson County Library on Wednesday, August 16th at 10 AM about her travels this past year. Photos of her travels can be found on Facebook or Instagram: mrutzen25 and more in depth stories are chronicled at