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The Ephermals of an Appalachian Forest in Spring

As a teen, I often wandered in the forest and grassland of my grandparents pasture. The sight of the ephemeral flowers of spring always brought me great joy. It seems one dy, in late February, I would notice a tiny Spring beauty growing below the deciduous tress deep in the woods. Then there wold be another and another. I would round a curve on an old logging road and discover a bank filled with Bloodroot. I felt as though I had found a treasure, as all ephemeral rise up, bloom and disappear within a few weeks, before the leaves are much more that a pale green bud.

There are “arguments” among locals as to which wild flowers of early spring really qualify as ephemeral-meaning flowers that appear, bloom, fertilized each other (sometimes themselves) and disappear within a very short time. I never really cared. I knew which ones fit that category in “My woods” and that was all that mattered. After the first flowers had begun to disappear, others wold take their place. There were Clinton Lily’s. Pink Orchids, common violets, Pipsisewa, May Aapple and many more as spring progressed towards May. Between mid-April and mid-May, the forest was covered with these small shy flowers. I found them to be fascia ting, often getting down on my knees to explore each leaf and bud.

I always enjoyed the sounds of busy squirrels and chipmunks, I loved the way that the sound of the creek became louder as I got closer to a small pond that someone had long ago built for cattle drink from. Occasionally, sight of a foot-long ground snake, would surprise me. We would stare at each other, her head held high,and then she would slowly crawl off into the brown leaves still littering the ground. It was always exciting to pick up a stone and find a resting lizard, remaining still underneath. I often had to put the rock back down right beside the creature for fear of crushing it.

I was raised in the woods. My mother, aunt and grandmother would go on walks with me. We knew where natural springs flowed from depths of the earth, with water as fresh as a spring shower. We would lift rocks with a hoe from the creek where the cattle drank and catch crawfish (who, of course shoot backward when disturbed and were easy to catch.) DON”T argue, crawfish is what we called them! Salamanders would hide in the s shallower areas near the edge or the water plants swishing near the edge of the creeks.

By mid June, blackberries were starting to ripen, and the chiggers that lived on and around them were waiting for a dog, person, any creature that spelled “food” to walk by. When I was 12 years old, my parents made me go pick blackberries and I got 103 chiggers bites. I swore that I would never go again, and I didn’t, until I was a young adult and had to decide on my own whether the seedy berries were worth the briars and chiggers.

The fields are gone now, either grown up or a mansion has sprung  up in the middle of a big “lot”. It should have never happened. It breaks my heart that only my mom cared enough to want to save it and she was out-voted.

Times have changed over the decades. The big houses have chased the bears, wild turkeys, coyotes, even bobcats down into the valleys. There, they have found easy meals from scraps and trash cans. My grand kids will never see the world I knew. I take them to the Botanical Gardens at the University or the Bird Sanctuary at the man-made lake.

There, they can see mallards and red-headed ducks, turtles resting on logs, frogs jumping into the slim-filled swampy areas, birds of all kinds. That is as good as it gets near my home any more. I have always hoped to one day convince an old farmer that what I could offer him to save his land was worth more to his descendants than the crowds of houses the developer wanted to build, smiling and offering him an exorbitant price to destroy his land. I have about given up hope, it seems the green on money means more to even the old farmers than the lush, lovely green of trees.

Perhaps someone with more money than I have will come along, or some old timer with a mind that loves nature like I do, will donate his land to a nature conservancy. In the meantime, I will go to the edges of the woods , when it has just started to sprinkle rain and the fragrance of soil and plants fills my senses and remember what this place was like before the leaders of surrounding towns turned paradise into pitiful.. The Singing Group called the Eagles wrote a song when I was a teenager that said, “Call a place a paradise, and kiss it goodby.” How sad, how true. But I have my memories. Please take time  listen to the song that plays on this blog.

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The Pain of Progress

“Wow!” Jack gasped as he and his friend, Don, walked down the street that was sparkling with activity in the 1980’s. “It’s empty, tagged with grafitti, this was the main drag back then.!”

Don took a moment to look around at what had been a new and up-coming area of their small mid-western town. The plants thank had been placed there to beautify the cement surroundings were over-grown. The sculpted trees were tangled with vines. It was sad, heart-breaking,to be honest.

”Progess.” Don sighed. What a joke. The walked on to the “new”main drag only a few blocks away.

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Amidst the London Fog

Young John was quite angry with his brother’s room-mate for pulling such a childish prank on him over a simple remark made in an ale house during the past weekend.

It would seem that someone who had attained a degree in philosophy and was working on his Master’s would have more maturity, especially with his career in the higher echelons of the English Court in jeopardy.

The question was, as John saw it, what his response to the forged letter addressed to and published in the London Newspaper should be.

His anger was definitely interfering with his common sense. After all, many people who read the article which proclaimed him to hold unpopular and possibly damaging political views, would believe the he had, indeed, written it, and held to the views it projected.

What could he do? “Rather,” he sighed, “what SHOULD he do?

With much thought and craft on his part, John decided to make use of the newspaper to get back at George’s room-mate, just as the newspaper had been used against him.

John, an excellent artist, made sure that the comic of the culprit was shown with him clearly writing up the fake letter, while dressed in the outfit of a jester, just different enough in character so as not to project slander. He proceeded in requesting that it be published on a Sunday, when many readers would see it.

John would come out looking bright and intelligent while his nemesis would look like an utter fool.

John smiled as he licked the envelope, stepped out the door in his long black coat and made his way to the Newspaper office, in the thick London mist.

On his way out of the newspaper office, he stopped to buy a newspaper from a young man who was hawking the latest edition with a loud call, “Graduate student found dead in his quarters!”

John placed the coins in the lads hand and opened up the paper to the front page. With horror, he discovered that the dead man was his brother’s room mate and realized that his letter might make him look guilty of committing murder, or at least some sort of involvement in the tragedy. He hurried back to the desk where he had dropped off his letter and was able to retrieve it just as a clerk approached in order to collect the latest contents of the “in” box.

John breathed a sigh of relief as he tore up the letter and threw it into a barrel filled with flames surrounded by a group of vagrants, warming themselves against the cold mist. He shivered as he thought of how the nature of his act of craft had nearly propelling him into the justice system when he had done nothing at all.

Indeed, his speed and quick wit in retrieving and destroying the comic and accompanying letter had been the better craft, after all.

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A Breath of Fall

We wait at the school bus stop in the summer sun. The air conditioner is on high at 7:30 a.m. It just cannot be that summer is over. There is a dogwood tree that I watch, next to a wild aster. They are my calendar, my watching, waiting for fall to come.

One foggy day, the dogwoods leaves have a tinge of red, now the berries show their cardinal souls. The aster that has looked like an ugly weed all summer explodes into a wild white bush, excited, thankful bees all around. Relax, close your eyes, fall has come.

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Dragon’s Tail

“Oh, my God!” screamed Sarah as she clung tightly to the back of Joey’s leather Jacket.. He couldn’t hear her. It was just a noise to him, with his black , flame covered helmet and new Harley Davidson Motorcycle. He was rushing down the famous “Dragon’s Tail” road in extreme western North Carolina that has 11 miles with over 318 curves.

It is one of the most popular roads in the country for motorcyclist. A lot of them don’t make it down, some get hurt a few killed. A photographer has even made an enterprise of the horrifying curvy road. He takes photos in one of the worst curves, and sells them to the riders(if they survive.)

Her heart was racing as they rounded the last curve. Tears rolled down her crimson cheeks. Joey was laughing-LAUGHING! That Sob had nearly killed her, scared her to death and he thought it was funny. She’d show him another meaning of “road” Hit it!

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Don’t Forget those who have Lost Children!

Ok, it has been seven years since my precious son suddenly ran toward me, collapsed on the ball field as I got to him and never regained consciousness. It has been seven years since who ever called 911 did not stay on the line or give proper directions. Seven years ago, I stood stunned as someone who called themselves a nurse ran up, but never did anything a nurse would do. He would be 22 in a few weeks.

The Fire Department was in sight of the Ball Park, so I know that they did not get the call or proper directions. The first responders in this area-the Fire Department are lightning fast and wonderfully trained. I know they did not get directions that we were in the ball park right below them. If they had, my son would not be dead. It was 10-12 minutes until an ambulance came from town and I was forced to watch my beautiful healthy son dying. In the ambulance , they were defibrillating him. In the hospital, they worked on him an hour.

His life was lost for negligence, my life, health, faith and future were ruined. My family will never stop suffering. Few light candles on his memorial site anymore, The mementos of his grave have slowed down. He is still dead, for nothing. I have almost died five times. Please do not forget those who have lost children. They never forget-you shouldn’t either.

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Making Memories of Us by Keith Urban

This is the song that was played on the video my son-in-law made of my oldest son and his wife’s wedding as the script of the wedding party played and they were pulling out of the church. It will always bring tears to my eyes-from 2005

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