The trick to writing is to not make a big deal out of it. Simply sit down, put your fingers on the keyboard, and tell us a real good story. Daniel Pickerill, this year’s 1st Runner-up in the Write a Dear Reader Contest, did just that. He wrote a lovely story.
Dan is an engineer and says he doesn’t have a lot of options to be creative, so he thought entering the contest might be fun. When I asked him if he’d written anything before, he told me “many years ago in school,” he won a short story contest. He does keep a journal, but he says, “It’s pretty boring. I just write about what I did every day. Went here, ate this, nothing too exciting.”
Well, Daniel, you’re the 2015 1st Runner-up, so not too worry, today you’re going to have something real exciting to write about in your journal!
Congratulations Daniel! (I’m cheering and clapping for you!)
Thanks for reading with me. It’s so good to read with friends.
By Daniel Pickerill
1st Place Runner-up, 2015 Write a Dear Reader Contest
I’ve lived here, 70 miles northwest of Chicago in Loves Park, Illinois for 30 years. We said we’d stick it out for three! I love it here, I love the hot summers, the snow and the cold in the winter and the hot humid summers. The springs are a bit blah, there is something a little strange about an 80 degree day and dead grass. We came here from England, with a Cairn terrier called “Bailey” and a few sticks of furniture that stayed in storage while we stayed in a dark motel waiting for a rental property that would take dogs.
I’m not sure what Bailey thought about the trip. He endured two flights. The first, a local one from Manchester to London. We didn’t know what to think, got him out when we landed to check he was OK and then packed him off again for the long flight to Chicago. When we reached Chicago, it was hot and humid, a big difference from cool and damp London. Back then they didn’t park at the jet way, you went down the stairs they brought out to the plane to catch a bus to the terminal. On the way to the terminal the baggage cart passed by with our dog, in his dog box, looking out forlornly at a whole new world.
People on the bus said, “Ah, what a shame, who’d do that to a dog?” Bad parents we were and we looked down at the floor. When we got to the terminal and retrieved our dog I rushed him outside so he could find a tree. By the only one nearby stood a Chicago policeman, gun at his hip. I had images of going to jail on my first day in America so I was fortunate that Bailey was too tired or confused and stayed close to me.
Things got better, the people were great. After we’d established that I didn’t know their relatives living in the UK and both sides got over the different sounds we make when we speak English we made a life here. Sadly Bailey is no longer with us though he had a great and fun-filled long life. Our son came along later and he allowed us to break the ice on Americana. We experienced Halloween, homecoming, the school marching band, ice hockey and skating and so many other truly American fun things to do and see.
I’m often asked what I’ll do when I retire. Will I go home? My heritage is a part of me, down to the dropped “h’s” of my Midlands accent, my love of English beer and my football team, Manchester United! But there’s a big part of me that belongs here. I love the Bears. I saw the “Super Bowl Shuffle” the year I arrived. I tailgated at Cubs games and cheered on the Blackhawks. I love my job in aerospace and the can-do attitude of people here. I love that I can lace up my running shoes and be on trails half a mile from my house. So my answer is I don’t know, but I can say that it has been a fun ride and I don’t think either of us regrets taking the chance to try on America for size.