Sunday, January 19, 2020

Perplexing questions

Blogging nightly has a downside. When we talk about traveling, we both fret about the news stories describing how criminals learn on social media that you're out of town. While you're out of town, they break into your house and steal all your Doobie Brothers' records.

So, to guard against that, we don't advertise on social media (or our blogs) when we're out of town.

But, I must say that Mentone is an eclectic little town that we love visiting. There are a few restaurants there that are amazing. We ate out both nights and the food was incredible.

It's an artist community. The small store on the main street has incredible art, books, and things you won't find anywhere else on the planet.

You can't blink while driving through town or you'll miss it. In the scheme of things, it might not be a blip on the radar of some people. But there's something there for those who look.

Yesterday, we stopped at a scenic stop overlooking the river. I shot several pictures there. Just past that stop, we passed a place where a massive rock caused the road builders to turn the pig trail into a divided highway.

Walking up, I stood beside those rocks and considered their history. It's hard for me to work out in my mind just how they came to be there. How is it that rocks that were probably contemporaries of dinosaurs wound up near Mentone, Alabama. I also wondered that if the dinosaurs had been in town this weekend, would they have enjoyed the blackened trout for dinner as much as I did?

Perplexing questions.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Against the wind

We had an opportunity recently to visit Mentone, Alabama. It's a small town in the northeast corner of the state and a stone's throw from both Georgia and Tennessee.

The place where we stayed was built in 1927. There's a picture on the wall of an old vehicle hauling the lumber to build the lodge from a nearby sawmill.

We drove along the edges of Little River Canyon and stopped at several overlooks. It was rainy and the wind out of the north was biting. We flipped our collars up braved the rain. There weren't many other people stopping but a few strong of heart and spirit :) We made quick friends with a number of them. There's something about facing the elements that bond people together.

I think I'd like to return in summer and maybe sit on a rock close to the water's edge and dangle my bare feet in the icy water.

Friday, January 17, 2020

It's a dance

Our blueberries and fig trees are on the cusp of bloom. It's much too early. In fact, cold weather is barreling in.

This time of year when the weather warms, it coaxes anxious vegetation out, and when cold weather returns, it bites the tender blossoms.

It's a dance.

Today, when we walked, the roots of the old oak tree looked like they had on green velvet sweaters.

I'm out of words tonight. Y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Work day

Today was a workday for both Jilda and me. I did many things, but few were interesting enough to interest you. That happens sometimes.

It was warm enough earlier in the day to feed the bees. After lunch, I headed out to take a picture of the mayor standing on a bridge that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It's way past its expiration date so the mayor applied for funds to have it replaced. He got the grant and he was happy.

On the way down to shoot the picture, I rolled down the windows of my truck. The sky was winter blue. If that's not an "official color," it should be.

I took several pictures for the paper today, but none for me. I realized that tonight when I sat down to write.

Looking back, I found a picture that I took seven years ago today.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Life is quick

At first, they come slowly.
Then later unexpectedly.

Your knees begin to squeak
and you have trouble hearing in crowds.

When you're young, you won't listen to elders,
because you think they have nothing to say.

If I could get a message through 
to the generations that follow, 
it would be this:
Life is quick.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Close to the stars

This evening is the eve of my 69th birthday. I've found myself lost in thought today. It rained a good bit, but there were moments.

At one point, I walked outside. I'd bought a bag of parched peanuts the last time I was at the produce store. I took the bag out with a glass of sweet tea and sat on the back steps to think about life and whatnot.

Kodak snuggled in next to me and watched with great interest. I've spoiled him already. I ate a peanut, and I'd give him a peanut. We talked for a long while and he seemed to listen as long as he got a peanut every now and then.

As I reflect back over the years, the thing that's hard to wrap my mind around is how quickly time has passed.

When I was younger, I thought I had a feel for just how precious my time was, but in retrospect, I'm not sure I did.

I've had good times and life has been good to me, but I think I believed that I'd be forever young. Maybe that's how I should have been. There were good times, but I sometimes dwelled on bad times.

But from this vantage point, I wish I had understood then that the Ferris Wheel goes round and round. Some of the time you're at the bottom, but at other times you're close to the stars.

I took this picture today when I drove into the office. It has nothing to do with the post tonight, but that's how it goes sometimes.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The sound of the surf ~ my column from Sunday's paper

NOTE: I planted the seeds for this column in a post here last week.

This week I needed an idea for my column, so I went on a quest. As it turns out, I didn't have to venture too far. Inspiration was hiding in the old carved rosewood box on my dresser.

Hidden underneath some old pocket knives, political buttons, and mismatched cufflinks, there was a seashell the size of a thimble. I think it's called a ladder horn snell shell. Picking it up gently, I held it up and stepped closer to the light coming through the bedroom window to get a better look.

Timeshift – all of a sudden, I was shirtless, wearing cutoff fatigues, and combing the beaches in Panama in the fall of 1971. I was stationed at Ft. Sherman at the time.

An overnight storm in the Atlantic had washed up coconuts, mountains of seaweed, and teakwood from who knows where. There in the surf was the seashell. Sitting down, I analyzed the artifact as if it were a gemstone.

Instinctively, I held the tiny shell up to my ear to see if I could hear the ocean. Looking back, I realize how wacky that was. The ocean was close enough for the surf to wash sand up my shorts. There was no way I could have heard sounds coming from that shell.

This shell wasn't the first one I'd ever found. I'd been to Florida several times as a kid and found shells there. Also, one of my duty stations in the Army was near the New Jersey shore. On those beaches, you were more likely to find a pull-off tab from a can of Budweiser than a seashell, but I did find a few small ones that I kept as souvenirs.
Jilda and I spent New Year's Eve 1999 at the beach with friends. A storm before midnight sent torrents of vertical rain that lashed the windows. Palmetto and palms gyrated in the wind and scratched the side of the house as if they wanted inside. The power winked out, and we toasted the New Year by candlelight.

The next day, the tide was angry. On our morning stroll, we picked up bushels of shells.

It was a remarkable time. We still have many of those shells in baskets throughout our home.

During my years working for MaBell, I had opportunities to travel. The trips where I would be gone more than a day or two, Jilda went with me. We visited the sea in New England, Washington, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and California. We have shells from each of these places. We also have shells from when we vacationed in Ireland.

Back in the fall, I went through a time when I woke up at 3 a.m. It was as if an alarm went off somewhere. My eyes opened, and it took every trick in the book to fall back to sleep.

There's a conch shell on my nightstand. It's about the size of a baseball. One night when sleep would not come, I noticed something in the light from the digital alarm clock. Reaching over, I realized it was the shell. I had forgotten about it.

Quietly picking up the shell, I held it to my ear. After a few slow breaths, I could hear a gentle roar. After listening for a few minutes, I placed it back on the stand, and soon I was asleep.

There's probably a scientific explanation for that sound, but I prefer to think of it as the sound of the surf at the ocean.

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