Friday, July 25, 2014

A magical place

One afternoon this week, Jilda was working late and I'd been to community meetings. 

On the way home I came to a stop sign near the fork of the river. It's actually where the Sipsey Fork and the Mulberry River join to form the Black Warrior River that flows through the heart of Alabama.

Home was to the right, but a stones throw from the stop sign is the finger of land separating the two rivers where they join. I decided to swing in, as if often do, to see what was happening at the forks.

There's a public boat launch here but this particular spot in a unique place on the face of the earth.

Native Americans made their home on this land back before Alabama became a state, but even now  standing there as gentle waters flow to the south feels almost magical. People congregate there year around. 

In the spring when trout, hybrid  bass and other species of fish head upstream to spawn, you can catch fish as big as small children.

My old friend Leo (white shirt) comes here every day. It's almost as if the water of the Black Warrior flows through his veins. He can look at the water, the angle of the sun, mentally calculate the air temperature and tell you if the fish are biting.

People come from all over, park their cars in the shade of pine and poplar trees and fish. Some come to stand and talk. Most just want to feel the magic of this place.  

Pulling in for a moment this week, Leo (pictured in white tee shirt)  told me they hoped to catch a few strip bass. 

Sometimes when you go down there, families with children running around barefoot will eat a picnic lunch on the grass. 
I love this place. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Doctoring up my Coke

While walking early this morning, a butterfly fluttered in front of me as if showing the way. Stopping at the front porch of the creative space, I sat for a while to watch. 

The flitting creature had the same idea and alighted to rest its wings a few feet on the lip of an old Coca Cola bottle the color of emerald.

It flexed its wings as if sizing me up. When I flew away, I continued looking at the Coke bottle. A memory arrived slowly in my conscientiousness like a Polaroid photograph developing.

I was 15 years old at the old high school during break time. Each day I'd buy a Coke and a pack of Tom's roasted peanuts. 

After drinking a few sips to make room, I'd pour the salty peanuts into the Coke and watch it fizz to life. Slurping the frothing soft drink was part to the fun. I loved that combination.
I tried several other things too. M&Ms, and the Kool Aid that came in multicolored striped straws also found their way into my Cokes.

School systems didn't worry that much about cranking the kids up on sweets between classes in those days. But then most of the kids that schooled with me, had stay-at-home moms and ate healthy breakfasts and dinners. 

It's funny what crosses your mind while out walking.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Things I've never done before

Just after coffee, I stepped down to the garden to do some weeding. I stayed on top of it early on, but got busy on several projects for the last two weeks which turned the garden into a jungle. 
I got into the Zen of garden maintenance and a while later my shirt looked as if I'd showered with my clothes on.

I went inside to hydrate and set in front of the box fan we keep in our bedroom for white noise at night.
I cooled off, but before I showered, I decided to do yoga. I've been on a roll the last several weeks and I wanted to continue the trend until it becomes habit.

I headed to the back deck, lit some incense, dialed up some meditation music on Pandora and started my postures.

About five minutes into the session, I felt a cool drop of rain hit my shoulder. Instead of fleeing inside, I put my phone in my pocket to keep it from getting soaked and moved into a warrior one. Looking into the sky, I could see sun off to the east, but overhead were clouds as thick as wood smoke.

The rain picked up, and I focused on the wind in the chimes, and rain ticking on the metal roof. 
I'd never done yoga in the rain, but it felt great. 

By the time I wound down, the clouds had moved off to the west (they usually move in the opposite direction) and the sun bore down

After twenty minutes of meditation, I picked up my mat and laid it across a banister to dry before going inside to shower.

I love doing things I've never done before. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Attack of the mutant flora

We compost. All the peach peeling, egg shells, asparagus stems, and other rot-worthy stuff, we toss in
an enamel bucket on the back deck and every few days I take it outside the back fence and dump it into the composter situated under our pear tree.
Each fall we take compost as dark as chewing tobacco and spread it over the garden. The pile usually gets warm enough during the decomposition process to kill most seeds, but every now and then seeds make it through.
We didn't think winter would ever end. Spring was slow in coming but once it arrived, growing things thrived.
We planted sunflowers, but we had one that volunteered (that's what my grandmother called it) to come up a few rows away. 
It finally bloomed this week and I snapped this photograph of my great nephew Jordan standing beside it. Jordan is almost four feet tall so you can look at this picture and do the math yourself.
I've never seen one quite this tall. The flower is as big as a dinner plate. Too bad an heirloom tomato seed didn't survive and grow a tomato as big as a beachball :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ethics of an eye for an eye ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Life is messy. The view from the highroad is more scenic, but there are always detours, and I find myself on bumpy roads more than I’d like.

One part of doing right is being kind to Mother Nature’s critters. A good example is when I wrote recently about relocating the chicken snake caught in the nest of the henhouse instead of hacking his head off with a hoe.

Oftentimes doing the right thing isn’t cut-and-dried. This past week I caught an opossum (possum for short) in my chicken pen. It had already killed and eaten one of my new baby chicks. He came back the next night for a second course, but I caught it in my humane trap.

At first, the equation seemed simple in this case — an eye for an eye. The possum ate my baby chicks; now it must pay for that life with its own life. After all, it is my responsibility to do the right thing by my chickens and keep them safe.

While standing looking through the wire cage at the vicious critter and mustering the courage to carry out the retribution, three tiny possums no bigger than mice came from somewhere underneath. They nestled on their mother’s back as if it were a lounge chair and gazed at me curiously. The simple equation became more complicated for me.

My ethical compass swung northward, so I loaded the wire trap with the mama and three babies into my truck. The plan was to find a suitable place to relocate them.

After driving about five miles from the house, I came upon a secluded pond with lots of open space.

Steering to the side of the road, I stepped out, gravel crunching under my boots.

Out of the corner of my eye, a mama duck with a dozen small ducklings the size of my baby chicks came swimming toward shore.

Behind them were gentle V-shaped waves in their wake.

Watching the tiny critters for a moment was all it took to realize letting the possums go there was not the right thing to do either. Soon they’d be having duck for dinner.

After about 15 miles of asphalt, I came upon a bridge over a large creek. There were no houses for miles, and the area had been used from time to time as an illegal dump. Before giving it too much thought, I freed the family from the cage. Tumbling from their wiry jail, they cursed as they scampered toward the river.

Only Mother Nature knows what scathing labels they hissed on me.

Driving home, the circumstances surrounding the episode wandered through the maze of my mind trying to find a path to true north.

Did I do the right thing? It’s hard to say. Environmentalists might argue that changing the habitat of the possums at such a vulnerable time in their development was cruel.

Many people think I’m goofy for giving this kind of thing a second thought. Why not just blast the whole family with a shotgun and bury the carcasses in a shallow grave?

But for me, life is indeed messy at times and doing the right thing is not always easy.

The evening sky tonight. It has nothing to do with the post, but I wanted
to end with a picture.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Part of growing older

There was a time in my life when I could stay up for days. In fact, when I was in the Army, a friend wanted to learn to play the guitar. His barracks were located on the Pacific Ocean, and mine were on the Atlantic Ocean. 
That's me in Panama 1971
He bought a new guitar and boarded a train bound for the Atlantic. A few hours later he arrived. That was much easier to do because we were both in Panama. The Isthmus of Panama is about 50 miles across by train.
It was a long holiday weekend and he arrived on Friday afternoon. We sat down and began the guitar lessons.
We stayed up until Sunday afternoon when he had to board the train to head back to the Pacific. Our heads were buzzing, his fingers were practically bleeding, and we were walking zombies, but he knew all the basic chords, and could play any song that Hank Williams ever wrote.
Fast forward to now -- we didn't get to bed until after midnight last night, and my brain has been mushy all day. I guess that's part of growing older.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Worn out

We just rolled in after playing at Berkeley Bobs Coffee House tonight. Playing's the fun part, but then we have to help our sound man load up all the equipment. Wouldn't you know, our roadies took the evening off :)

Our old maids are coming in now so I grabbed a photo this afternoon.

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