Thanks to my grandparents taking weekend drives to see the beauty of Indiana, I love each season of the year.
But seeing all the colors, the crisp cool feeling and the smell of leaves burning in the air makes September and October my favorite time of the year for a drive.
But no county drive since I’ve become an adult can measure up to those I shared with my grandparents.
After my grandma filled a picnic basket with delicious goodies, grandpa filled a cooler with drinks and I grabbed several books to read, we would all pile in the car on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and hit the country roads.
“Pick a direction,” my grandfather would say when he turned the key in the ignition. Grandma would look at me with a wink and one of us would choose a direction, then off we’d go.
I’d read, listening to my grandparents talk about what happened during their week. After a while, it would be quiet and I’d look up to see my grandparents holding hands and looking out the car windows at the scenery. It was sweet to watch, even for a goofy kid like me.
I always felt like it was a privilege to witness this quiet, personal moment between them.
We’d stop and have lunch somewhere at a park or alongside a local river or stream and then go home.
Once home, especially in the fall and winter months, my grandmother would make hot chocolate.
She would melt 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate, 1/3-cup sugar, a pinch of salt, a 1/2-teaspoon vanilla in 3 cups of “Half and Half” and 1 cup of whole milk in a pan on the stovetop over medium-low heat. She would whisk it all the time to keep it from sticking to the pot. (You can add a pinch of cinnamon to taste if you like.)
She would pour the drink in a warm cup, top it off with mini marshmallows and we’d enjoy it.
For a long time I took my drink to my bedroom and curled up with a good book.
One night I came out to get a cookie and found my grandparents snuggled together on the couch drinking their hot chocolate and watching Bonanza, or maybe it was Hee Haw.
They weren’t angels. They had their “loud discussions” and even threw a few plates over the years during those moments, but the week always ended with a tender moment between the two.
“You don’t go to bed with the enemy,” my grandma said later. “You make peace with them first. You can always wage war the next day.”