I never had the privilege to see Branson, Missouri before. Before all the traffic, before the chain restaurants, and the Hollywood attractions. I wasn’t born yet when the book The Shepherd of the Hills was first published back in 1907. You may purchase your own copy right here: https://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Hills-Wordsworth-Classics/dp/1840225815
It is a book I’m adding to my reading list, and hope to get to very soon. Because I think it will speak of a Branson, Missouri I somehow long for, although I’ve never seen. I have that feeling a lot in my life!
As you may have guessed by now, my husband and I just returned from Branson. I do love going there. At one time, we always went to Silver Dollar City, but we haven’t purchased season passes for a few years now. I think for our entire family, the memories we have, are about that magical place. I say magical, because the entire park seems to take me back to a more simple time. Those years when you were thankful for a roof over your head, food to eat, and clothing to do what needed to be done. Usually a pair of work clothes, and a set of going out clothes for the store, meetings, neighbor visits, and maybe even church. I’m sure some folks even had another set of clothing just for church, weddings and funerals. Those folks had even more than most.
I love the setting of Silver Dollar City. The rambling hills, cabins dotting the pathway, trees offering shade, and the smokey smell of the food vendors. If I close my eyes, I can picture the little stream, and hear the music as you enter Silver Dollar City…and that’s the way I picture the old Branson.
Progress…something we always strive for in our personal lives, what we as a society want to have. But what are we losing along the way? I’m just as bad. I not only want a roof over my head, but I want it to be free from leaks, well-insulated, heated and air-conditioned with running hot and cold water. I want easy-to-clean floors, and electricity so I may use my computer at two in the morning if I wish. That electricity sure comes in handy when I want ice cream from the freezer! I want several pairs of shoes to go with different outfits, and I most assuredly don’t want to go to the river to wash my clothes! Yes, I am spoiled by this life. And because of that, I don’t see the shaded woods, and the trickling brooks as much as I should. As much as I would like.
I love going to Branson. I would like to live in Missouri someday. But I don’t enjoy the traffic, the neon signs, the high prices, and the tired employees at the end of the summer. I don’t blame them…working with people, serving people is a thankless job. For some reason, even people on vacation can be rude and demanding. I have never understood that. A vacation should be a happy event.
Each time we visit Branson, there is another Hollywood attraction. I say that because I think of bright lights, expensive museums, and so much stuff to give entertainment. Ten years ago when we first started visiting Branson on a regular basis, there were still the old restaurants. The ones that made you feel like you were going back in time and experiencing the real Ozarks, the authentic cooking. Some of the older souvenir shops were still around. When I thought of Branson, I thought of talent. Talent in music, crafts, arts, and cooking. Now all I see is one more chain restaurant that I can visit in Topeka, Kansas, and way too much glitter.
Don’t get me wrong…there is still incredible talent there. It just seems harder to find, and when you do, it’s expensive, and it shouldn’t be that way. What is wrong with having places to go that are special just because they are what they are? No frills, no glitter, no competition to stay in business by having bigger and better. Maybe that’s just the way it goes in life, and we can’t get back what we once had. Not once we travel the path of being spoiled and catered to.
I’m going to read The Shepherd of the Hills…and dream of a more simple time. A time when the sun rose with a golden glow over the mountains, and set to the hum of cicadas flitting through the trees and meadows. The orange, pink and purple hues the only glitter to be seen. Cold mornings when you woke to the smokey aroma of the cook stove, and bacon sizzling beside eggs. Hot days when you could dip your toes in the cool brook, shaded with tall trees.
Maybe even a quick swim between chores, the rocky bottom massaging your feet.
I want to top a long hill, and look out over the deep valleys and the bushy peaks, water shimmering in the distance. Sitting on the long front porch of my cabin, my rocking chair creaking beneath me would be an excellent way to finish a day. Maybe a friend or two playing guitars, and singing gospel and bluegrass. That’s the Branson I want to see…the one I wasn’t privileged to view. Enjoy a bit of Bluegrass music!