This year when the children came home for the Fourth of July we decided to show them some of the special things our area has to offer. We live on a farm near a small town about 45 minutes from Lexington and sometimes we suspect that our children’s mates think we are hicks from the sticks.
Actually, there are wonderful places here they’ve never heard about, not like the places they take us when we go to visit them—no ferries across the bay to San Francisco or movies at the Eastman House—but places we enjoy and are proud to show off, nonetheless. We put together two itineraries, one for the children and their families and another for a week-long visit by one of the grandchildren.
With the grown children we toured and had lunch at Elk Creek winery in Owenton, located in a handsome new building equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, where we sell our grapes, looked in on two places in Mt. Sterling—Bramble Ridge Orchards, where we had a gourmet lunch prepared by proprietor Cindy Peake, and the Arts Center where Cay Lane has done such a huge and imaginative job—with help from other volunteers, of course—raising funds and converting a big downtown church into a home for juried art exhibitions, touring theater and musical programs (we saw Faust there the other night), open mic night, and other events.
We took a spin over to Morehead for a visit to the Kentucky Folk Art Museum, which includes works by Edgar Tolson, among them Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, complete with serpent, and the magnificent carvings of LeVon Williams, Kentucky basketball star who became an artist, with a studio in Lexington. We also went to see the fireworks at Frenchburg, a very good display of bombs bursting in air, then watched shows at other nearby towns the following night from our back yard.
No, these events and places don’t compete with their cities of San Francisco and Rochester, but they are very nice assets, nonetheless, and we are proud of them. Also, where my nine-year-old granddaughter lives she can’t go for a ride in the enclosed cab of a tractor, or drive the go-cart I bought long ago at a farm auction.
When our 11-year-old granddaughter from Florida comes up this week, we plan to take her to the Cincinnati Zoo, the Kentucky Horse Park, the candy-making facilities at Ruth Hunt Candies in Mt. Sterling, the native American artifacts and art exhibit at UK, and Grease at Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg.
It’s always such a wonderful time when the children come to visit. Although the farm wasn’t home when they were growing up, I have now lived here for 19 years, commuting to the University most of that time. The adult grandchildren have had time to bond with it. The twins’ tree house is still in the big maple tree in the backyard, the go-cart still bears the big number they painted on it to make it look like a race car, it’s where we have cut the Christmas trees, and this is where we have celebrated many holidays with bonfires and s’mores, and popcorn and fires in the fireplace before we became snowbirds. So it’s a familiar place for that generation and almost home for the children.
I call them children, but as I noted earlier, they’re grown with families of their own. Now, except for an occasional holiday here, they come for Christmas visits with us in Florida every other year, the odd year being spent with the family of the mate. But on the Fourth of July they come by the farm for a few days. I think this year was the best visit ever, but I think that every year.
Lewis Donohew retired from the University of Kentucky College of Communications in 1999 after nearly 35 years of service and having earned a national reputation as a communications scholar and researcher. Now down on his farm growing grapes and living close to the earth, he contemplates issues of the day from a lifetime of experience and a love of the land.