One of the things my grandparents left me with was a game to keep busy on road trips. Back in the days before DVD players and books(before I knew you could read a book for fun), We'd spend the trip scanning the passing countryside looking for windmills. Living in central Texas, the windmills you see in the movies are still in use. Gray metal devices used to pump water to cattle troughs without the need of electricity. We'd scan from left to right out of the car windows and exclaim, “My windmill!” I didn't know it was to shut us up and I really thought there was some competition going on, even if we never seriously kept score.

So for Christmas, my daughter was in my place. Kicking the back of my driver seat and raising a fuss about being stuck in one spot for so long. I conjured up the old game and felt the glow that a tradition was being passed on. Except, now there aren't as many windmills as there used to be. It was fine when I was a kid and you had the anticipation of seeing them every couple of minutes, but now it was unbearably long between windmill sightings. Enough so that she quickly lost interest in the game; probably following her mothers example. “Ok,” I said ,“how about we look for something else? How about churches!” Well that was discovery overload. Just calling out , “My church!” was getting old very quick. There wasn't time to see anything else. We needed to make a harder game. “Hey! Let's look for crosses!” I quipped. Then, since we were passing a fence I started saying, “My cross, my cross, my cross, my cross, my cross....etc.” I guess finding two straight lines that intersect is even easier than finding a church. Briefly we tried pointing out all religious icons that were not Christian, but, again, the game got too easy when every tree contains a potential wood spirit.

To make a long story short, we arrived at my mom's house and fried a turkey. Didn't burn anything down and in fact, since none of us has ever used or seen used an outdoor turkey frier setup, we had to keep holding the safty button down to keep a fire lit. I don't know if it's supposed to work like that but it sucked. Anyway, back to the road trip. I remember a photo from 9/11 where some rubble fell into a heap and there was a large cross shape made of some metal from somewhere in one of the buildings and the caption said something about this being “proof” that God was looking out for us. Or that there was a god. The memory is fuzzy. As I was pointing out crosses, it struck me that if I can find so many naturally occurring crosses, two straight, intersecting lines, and that “proves” there is a god, then it's a good thing the story wasn't about Jesus getting impaled on a stake. Then the “proof” would be every fence post, road stripe, antenna, and tree. Given some of the arguments for the existence of a god I hear regularly, these items are already “proof” enough.

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Comment by Father Nature on December 27, 2008 at 8:51am
When I was a kid in Wisconsin (1950s) our family used to play the same windmill game on road trips. Thanks for reminding me. Maybe future families will look for wind generators.

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