Bill and I extended our Christmas celebration with a trip to Paris...Paris, TN, that is. We met David & Trisha, Laura, Mike, Claire and Amanda at a cabin at Paris Landing State Park. The weather was dreary, but spirits were sunny. Wednesday afternoon we took a wet drive through the Elk and Bison Prarie in Land-between-the-Lakes Park. It was thrilling to see the animals up close from our car. They were peacefully grazing just a few yards from the road, not bothered by our presence.
Yesterday (12/23) we visited the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge for the first time. This area, near Cleveland, Tennessee, is managed for waterfoul and thousands stop over on their migrations. Thousands of Sandhill Cranes spend the winter here and thousands of others stop over to refuel on their flight to Florida. My little camera cannot do them justice. We were surrounded on all sides by these magnificent birds and the sound of their bugling was magical. For more information: Tenn Watchable Wildlife
This week we began what may be a new chapter in our lives together. We bought an RV. It is used (of course), and very compact. Just the right size for a couple. We can carry a larger group for a day trip, but it sleeps just two. Haven't planned the first trip yet, but it will be a short one. Any suggestions?
It has been more than two weeks since I've paused to make a post. The gardens - vegetable, fruit and flower - have consumed my energy. July and August are the most challenging months in the garden because of the heat. Even so, my pantry, freezer and spirit are filled with garden bounty. Next week: apples and planting fall greens if the weather cooperates. For more information about St. Fiacre, visit Dave's Garden.
A week ago Bill and I spent the weekend with friends who have a farm outside Abingdon, Va. Their property is bounded by the North Fork Holston River and Brumley Creek. We spent two hours kayaking down the river, taking out at their property. A storm upsteam had muddied the river, but improved the flow. It was our first trip on moving water. We had a great weekend.
A delightful drama played outside our breakfast window this morning. From her perch at the window, Kali cat had noticed the rabbit in his usual spot in the yard. She asked to go out and was soon stalking her prey, imagining herself to be the white tiger for whom she is named. We watched as she carefully approached the rabbit, tail twitching slightly. Meanwhile, the deer who had been enjoying fallen apples nearby noticed the activity and came to investigate, ears forward and a curious look on her face. She slowly circled behind the rabbit and came between the two, keeping her eyes on the cat. The rabbit seized the opportunity and bounded toward cover under the wisteria. The deer cautiously stepped forward and then back, uncertain about the cat crouched low in the grass. Suddenly Kali made a break for the deck and resumed her stance under the picnic table. The deer, having come so close to the house, looked around and tasted the white clover. It was good. She moved forward to explore the bird feeder, lingering long enough for me to get my camera and take a few shots through the glass door. What a great start to the day!
I began writing haiku on an annual spring fishing trip to the Ala/Fla gulf coast, to Perdido Key, Fla. I share my images of the gulf coast to bring contrast to the images I see on TV today. The coastal waters and marshes are a treasure beloved by millions, those who make their life and living there, and those like my family who visit there as often as possible.
Images from Pensacola Pass, Intracoastal waterway and Gulf Island National Seashore near Perdido Key, Florida, March 2007:
Thrashing, rolling, flashing fin,
Leaping, diving, gone!
Feel sun and cool breeze.
Watch birds soar and fish feed.
Catch just one...Enough.
Empty beach, white sand
As far as the eye can see,
Grand Isle, Louisiana, 2005-2006:
We had several great seasons fishing at Grand Isle, La. Then Katrina destroyed the fish camp we rented from friends and significantly damaged the island. The resilient people built back. The current man-made disaster will be more difficult to overcome. The images below are from 2005 and 2006. Eddie worked the rigs and loved to fish. He put us on some great speckled trout. I wonder what he is doing now.
Orange Beach, Alabama is our favorite vacation spot. We typically go there twice a year and hope to spend more time there in retirement. The debris in the photo below is natural, unlike that which is washing up today. As I observed in 2008:
Scattered debris of
Broken shells, remnants of life
So fragile and brief.
I have faith that eventually, life will win out and nature will heal. Someday again, the sea will provide for those on the gulf coast.
Ascend the mountain
One foot after another.
Achieve the summit.
Our annual group hike took us up Chimney Top in the Smokies. I thought I could make it, but wasn't sure. I haven't attempted anything that physically challenging in a long while. I'm glad I tried and pleased that I made it. Twenty-five years ago it wasn't the same challenge.
Mountain hike reward
Elkmont fireflies on display.
I have just returned from a night hike near Elkmont Campground in the Smokies. A group of friends went up to see the unique firefly display of synchronous flashing. It was something that can hardly be described, but must be experienced. A firefly lightshow accompanied by mountain stream music. It was well worth the damp, dark trek up and down. No pictures in the dark, just those that linger in memory.
Happy Mother's Day. I have a red climbing rose that begins to bloom on around Mother's Day every year. It reminds me of the tradition of wearing a red rose to church on Sunday if your Mother was living and a pink rose if your Mother was not living. We always picked our roses from the wild ones growing along the fence. I no longer follow that tradition, but I remember it every year and honor my Mother in my heart. In 2008 I wrote a series of 3 poems about the rose.
Promise in the bud
Of great beauty yet to come,
Promise in the flower
Of sweet perfume that lingers,
Promise in the fruit
Of ripened maturity,
Leads to life again.
For a week I have not breathed the fresh air, smelled the sweet perfume of spring blooms, heard the chirping of birds, felt the warmth of sun on skin or seen the glory of spring days. For a week I have been in the hospital fighting a blood infection. Today, after 5 nights and most of 6 days, I am home sitting on the deck recouping. It feels like heaven. The doctors, nurses and staff did their part admirably in providing the right care at the right time. Laura was faithful to cheer me and her homemade tea and bread sustained me when I could not manage the hospital food. Bill was my rock and comforter. The smothie he made me every morning nourished my body and his quiet presence, attentive to my needs, nourished my spirit. The concern and prayers of my family and friends enabled me to look ahead to better days. Thank you all for the part you played in my recovery. And thanks be to God for his ever-present care.
Sometimes all the elements fall into place. Working in the garden, observing birds, kayaking with Laura, Claire, Amanda and Bill, and doing a little fishing with the girls. What a day! Record high temp made us think late June instead of April. We have been gardening in the same location since 1975. Much has changed over the years even as there has been a constancy. My garden meditation: Seasons
Told in four stanzas
Repeated year after year
My garden poem.