Search This Blog

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Strolls

I love to take a stroll on a Sunday. If I lived in the city I'd probably head for a park, or an old neighborhood, but since I live out in the wild woods ... that's where I take my walks. And on Sundays in the fall I can go out to White Oak Swamp.  We rent that bit of forest to a hunter and during the season we stay out of the woods except for Sundays. In exchange for the use of our land we get venison, amazing summer sausage and of course, the rent - but rest assured, both parties think they have a really good bargain.

This pretty Sunday dawned with sparkling sunshine - bright enough to get all my laundry on the line in time to dry - even if the breeze has a hint of ice in it today. Sometimes we walk over to White Oak Swamp but with the little pup we don't. She'll get enough miles in once we get there, so we drive over and park at the edge and head south. That blur behind BD's legs is One Happy Callie. 

The little puzzled face thing is One Whiny Puppy.  "Pick Me UP" she's begging - but goodness - she must weigh over 20 lbs now. "No, Juno. You have to walk"
There really isn't anything more tempting than a path through the forest. Here along the east edge the cover is sparse and lots of light shines in. Certainly enough for a little puppy to find her way. 
This magical place is full of cypress trees (I know I've told you all this dozens of times already - but just in case you forgot...)  They're so pretty right now - still mostly green but with the bronzing beginning close to the limbs and branches. They're getting tall too - and knees are popping up in all sorts of places. 
A dog can disappear in a forest like this. 
I'm not sure if you can see this - it didn't photograph the way it looked in real life - but the  moment I saw this I thought "Green Lace!" It's really a sapling ... probably an oak ... that has been eaten away till there is just a lacy remnant to mark it's existence. 

Here is another interesting bit of flora - a holly tree sprouting out of an old moss covered stump. The woods are always so full of magical things. Sometimes I can capture them - sometimes I can only allude to them with my digital images.

Of course - no walk is much fun without lots of stopping and puppy fluffing. 
Aren't I cute, Mama?

No matter how far we walk in WOS there is always something  beautiful to see - breathtaking to experience - so spiritual I can almost be the forest not just be in the forest. How's this for a vaulted ceiling?
Or this for an October blossom?

Or this?

And this? What do you think? A ladder up to heaven? 

And what sylvan sprite lives here? A gnome? Elves? Fairies? 
Our walk took us down the east rim, along the south end, up the west woods, with a little weaving in and out among the crossing paths that take you deep into the woods. These shots were taken on the Africa Path. BD has named all of the paths. 

 Sometimes when I'm in this forest I can open up and feel it pour its strength into my body. I think of this particular bit of the farm as The Healing Woods. I remember coming here once so long ago - before there were these wide, easy to stroll paths. I was so sad about something I couldn't change but once I got deep into the woods, whatever was hurting me just floated away - sucked out of me by the spirit of the woods. I still feel that way even when I have nothing to be sad about. However I feel - a walk in White Oak Swamp will make me feel better.  I think it makes Juno feel better too.

 If you make enough right turns, though, you'll eventually get back to the car - or at least - you'll get back up to the tar road. Little dogs will stop and look around

Get one more tussle 
Share a bone or two 

And then it's time to head for home - with a stop for a long cool drink of water at Jacob's Gut. Would you believe that's a 12 week old puppy? Me neither. Now ... What's for lunch?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Annual October 16 Post

Happy Anniversary - because some things are worth remembering



* * *** * * * * * * * 

Long long ago there was a cheeky teenager, just past her 19th birthday, who was studying music at a big city university. One Friday, as she walked into the orchestra room, the flute player spun around in his chair, looked straight at her and asked her if she wanted to drive to North Carolina with him the next day.

“Sure” she said, desperate for anything to do on the weekend, when most of her friends split for home, leaving her to rattle all alone in a monolithical dormitory. Besides, he was one of the really good looking guys she and Robyn had decided were “cute enough to take us out”. And he had such a voice - deep sonorous basso profundo with the most delicious country southern drawl - not hick, in fact, very cultured, but oh so Southern. And startlingly blue eyes. Blue like autumn skies. And he was big - not fat or anything - just big with a big aura, a big presence. Nothing hesitant or shy or self-effacing. This was a man, not a boy, and he was inviting her to spend all day with him.

“Right.” he said. "Meet me at my house tomorrow at 10 a.m." and he gave directions to a row house in the Fan district, a few blocks from school.

Poor thing. Little did he know that he’d just arranged a date with his exact opposite in theGreatClockUniverse. She was no ditherer. No lingerer. No procrastinating late comer. She was anEarlyBird - always 15 minutes before hand, sometimes more. For this important assignation she was a full 30 minutes early, knocking on the dark and silent door of his first floor apartment.

“Stood up!” she thought. “Impossible” Nobody stood up this girl, no siree. And she stomped the four blocks back to school, snatched her fiddle out of her locker, slammed the practice room door shut and began to saw away, muttering imprecations, curses, indignant affronted descriptions of what is expected in this world, and other dark and damning words. But ...

She was also innately fair and as she scraped away at Kreutzer, she had to admit that the man had said come at 10. Perhaps he was out filling up the gas tank. Or perhaps he was renting a trailer. After all, the purpose of the trip was to retrieve his piano, waiting for him in his old place in Chapel Hill, NC. And so, at 10 o’clock for sure, she rounded the corner of Lombardy and Floyd and there he was, waving an arm, smiling happily and calling out “Hey Baby!”

She crossed the street and he invited her into his apartment. He offered her a beer, and though she hated the stuff - still does, in fact - she was also aware of what is cool and for a still-teenage girl at college, drinking beer at 10 a.m. was truly cool, so she said yes. He was back in a flash with a mason jar full of the most delicate, most mellow drink she’d ever tasted. His own home brew. There were gallons of it in his little bachelor kitchen. Now, be it gallons or pints, this stuff was potent and it was only moments before she was definitely in the mood to be entertained. And entertained she was, with music, books, ideas, and talk talk talk, tumbling out of this delightful man with his shelves full of books, boxes full of sheet music, head full of poetry in three different languages and kitchen full of nectar. Best of all, he was happy. Neither cynical, sarcastic nor jealous of another’s musical ability or progress, he was ready to share, to learn, to listen and to admire. In the highly competitive world of performing arts, here was someone with a blend of such innocence and courage there was nothing to do but laugh with pure pleasure and maybe fall in love a bit.

After a while the two of them tooled off in search of a U-haul place. Across the Lee Bridge at an Esso Station on Cowardan Ave., where Caravatti’s Junk Yard used to be, he stopped and went in to arrange a rental. Minutes passed and when he returned he stood right in front of the car and grinned at her through the windshield; one of those beaming, sunshiny “Ain’t this Grand?” grins. And as she stared up at him, suddenly he turned into an old man, still standing there, still grinning. She blinked; gawped; stared again. She looked down at her own hands and they had turned into an old lady's hands, the skin papery and spotted with large brown freckles, sunk down between the tendons. They were her grandmother’s hands. And she thought “My god. I’m going to be riding around in a car with this man when I’m an old lady.”

For some reason he had decided to rent the trailer in NC. Probably the Richmond outfit didn’t have what he was looking for. They motored on down I95, past the tobacco plant and warehouse district of south Richmond, past Petersburg, through Emporia. They talked the whole time, chattering, discovering, opening, sharing. At one point he said “well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me” and she thought “oh boy, there’s a lot you don’t know either”. And at that, there were some surprising points of contact. He had graduated from the same high school her dad had gone to. She had played a concert in Chapel Hill that he had gone to hear. He had taken lessons in Winston Salem while she had been a student at the School of the Arts. At Herndon, NC they stopped for lunch at a Kentucky Fried Chicken place. She had never been to one. In fact, fast food then consisted almost entirely of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes and fries. Fried chicken was a real treat and, of course, to a 19-year old, it didn’t fortell the diet doom it was to present later on.

The October skies had been gray all day but they grew heavier and more threatening as evening approached. Rain began to fall. At a Carolina gas station he picked up a small box trailer and two ice cream sandwiches. “How did you know ice cream is my all time favorite treat?” she cried and to his question of “Then don’t I deserve a reward” she answered with a resounding kiss. Of course, this was in the days when, first off, girls worried about being thought forward or even worse; fast! It was also at a time when she was very wary of anything that would cause boys to sidle away from a touchy feely woman. Of course, this was no boy. 28, he’d told her. But when it’s the right guy, with the right gift, only a kiss will do.

It was harder to be chatty on the long dark wet drive home. Especially when the passenger was one of those Superior Morning Persons. For an SMP, darkness means it’s time to close one’s eyes. She still didn’t realize she was dealing with one of those Stubborn Night OwlsSNO’s think SMP’s are silly, especially the types who creep out of cozy warm beds before the sun is actually above the roof tops of the houses across the street. All those delightful discoveries were waiting up ahead for them. On that day, in the hypnotic glare of headlights on raindrops, she grew pretty drowsy. “I like to drive. Go to sleep” he told her and eventually she did.

It was too late to get back into the dorm when they reached Richmond. She’d known it would be and had signed out for the weekend. He gallantly put her up for the night. She was there the next day when other friends came around to help shove the piano down the narrow hallway and into the apartment. It was well into the afternoon before she made her way back to her place, to pace the dormitory halls till her girlfriend should show up and she could tell her the exciting news about the upcoming nuptials.

There have been many more rambles, in half a dozen different cars, since that October 16, thirty nine forty two years ago. In 1991 the two of them took the trip to North Carolina all over again, even to starting at 1617 Floyd and to looking for some sort of U-haul place on the south side. They found the KFC in Herndon had moved a block but it was still serving up the original 11 herbs and spices recipe. They'll probably go off on a ramble today, the two of them, getting older, but not yet quite as old as the geezers in her vision.

But that is the story of my anniversary. We also celebrate a lovely wedding anniversary in April. It’s important, but not more important than October 16, when my favorite cute couple started out on life’s journey. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I even had a life before that day, although I can tell stories from that Mesozoic Era. It’s as if 10/16 were my real birthday; the day I began living my grown up life. BD, who had a head start on me, says he feels the same way.

There are a lot of stories in my bag of tales, but this one is my favorite.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bye Bye Birthday Month

Here it is - the first day of October - no more Birthday Thoughts for me till next year. But what a month it's been - so packed and full and stressed and loaded with joy it feels like it's lasted for 2 months. In fact, it's been SUCH a busy month it's worth a bit of recap or I might forget what all's happened. 

("what all" - a Southern Expression meaning both something and everything - colloquial,  quaint, bordering on slang) 

We began September with a hot Labor Day weekend that included swimming and beloved cousins and laughter. This came after a horrendous week for me at work; going live with new software, and at home; bidding goodbye to our beloved Labrador retriever Jack. I still haven't paid tribute to Jack yet .. though I will this month. He deserves to be remembered with words as well as inside my heart. I blame this remiss on the madness that has been September. 

The software switch was really much harder than I'd expected and there were also Bad Library Patrons in the first 2 weeks of the month. I wanted to spank them all soundly and send them to bed without their supper till I heard the president's speech on 9/10 and realized that - OF COURSE everyone was cranked to the max. They were caught in the double bind of remembering 9/11 with horror and swallowing the fear generated by a threatened confrontation with Syria over nerve gas. Umm. Yeah-Uh. No wonder everyone was anxious and grouchy and rude and ready to snap heads off. 

The very morning after that speech I sat my staff down and told them to look at grouchy library patrons with compassion, because we're all living with a little bit more fear these days. And I asked them, For Goodness Sake!, Please don't watch the news for the rest of the week! 

We also had More Software and Hardware training making this the most Technological Time I can remember at the library and while I like technology - I am not a Geek. I'm done with it. Time for this to get easy. 

There were other sweet but challenging times this month - a visit to S.C. to see #1 son (only son, actually, but still #1). We took Callie along and she proved to be a very good traveler. Of course I don't approve of taking dogs to other people's homes ... but hey - do as I say, not as I do. LOL. And then, of course, there was TheBirthday - with Birthday Food - and New Puppy Love - and a weight gain that pushed me .6 lbs over the WW limit. Gulp. 

And then the Library convention in my favorite shopping town (you wonder why I love this convention so much? Bwa ha haaaa) And the convention food of course. From which I worked very hard to assess and select only the nutritious and only slipped up once. 

And there was shopping. And there are shoes! 

And there was this past weekend with more beloved cousins and cousin dog too.  We traipsed off across the fields with all the dogs - in the gentle evening sunset. And there was talk. And food. And wine. And music. And flat out glorious loving. A magical weekend full of so much love. 

and so. 

And so September came to an end. October is here, risen over the horizon with it's planned and surprise elements, full of the richness of warm colors and delicious smells and, if we are lucky, rain. It's the autumn and it's time to pull out sweaters and favorite novels that make me feel loved and cozy. It's time for a knitting project. It's time for that first fire in the stove. It's time to start making plans and lists for the holidays. And it's surely time to decide how I am going to stay at goal through the minefield of food events that lie ahead. 

Yes. There's nothing like October to start Making Plans!