Unpacking ideas in a car packed with people

By Janet Hommel Mangas

We’ve been driving north since 8 a.m. — it’s almost 6 p.m. As we pass Chippewa Falls, I realize the temperature has been dropping as we pass fields of corn, cranberry bogs and an increase of birch trees.

I feel the urge to find truth. I check my phone: it’s currently 85 degrees and sunny at home, as opposed to 69 degrees and cloudy in Chippewa Falls.

It always takes me a few hours into a vacation to relax. My eldest daughter is mocking me, by announcing, “She has words on a page ladies and gentlemen.”

I probably should have written this sooner, but the radio has been spewing “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers — and well, when there’s six people stuffed into a SUV with fishing gear and luggage, it’s kind of chaotic for the first few hours.

As you well know, one must attend to questions like, “Does anyone have to use the restroom?” “Is anyone hungry, or can we wait to stop for lunch in Normal, Illinois?” “Can you turn up the air?” “Can you turn down the air?” “Mom, why haven’t you started on your column — we aren’t waiting for you to finish in Duluth this year.”

Like an airline pilot over an intercom, my husband just gave me the, “About an hour and 15 minutes” notice. He’s seated next to me in the driver’s seat, but I know after almost 28 years of marital bliss this can be translated: “Please finish your column, because in 90 minutes I am landing this Ford Expedition and taking the family out for dinner — with or without you.”

There have been a multitude of changes in the Hommel Mangas family lately. Youngest daughter Phoebe spent the summer studying in Cuba and then boarded a plane for Peru where she served as a translator on a medical mission trip with Go International and fellow Anderson University students.

I’m sure we haven’t heard all her adventures about backpacking her way carrying supplies, while forging a few rivers — but that’s what this week is for.

Last weekend we joined the Tillman family and helped load Chloe and Michael’s belongings down two flights of stairs into Tillman’s Truck Accessories trailer — of course, everything was already packed nicely in boxes, so it only took 10 of us 78 minutes to pack in.

In a few weeks, they move out to Connecticut for four months so Chloe can complete her chiropractic residency.

Alexandria is running her own business and actually packed 17 hardback books to read at night after our long days of fishing. As we were piling into the car and Chloe had to climb over a huge bag, she suggested, “Alex, you know you can read those on Kindle.”

To which Alex defended herself replying, “I know, but I like the feel of real books.” The book that is taking up the most room is “48 Laws of Power,” by Robert Greene. Keeping that five-pounder company include “Ego is the Enemy” and “Obstacle is the Way,” by Ryan Holiday, “Bird by Bird,” by Anne Lamott and “Building a Story Brand,” by Don Miller.

I’m starting to relax a little — no laundry to do. No weeds to pull. No office deadlines. And now, it’s almost time to eat.

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to  letters@dailyjournal.net.