Archive for July, 2013

Above the Mountains in the Clouds

I was about five years old. We were on our way to the beach for the first time. I opened my sleepy eyes as we went down the mountains and rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Below my was a fluffy layer of clouds with what looked like an island emerging from its center. Was I still asleep? Had I been lifted to some sort of magical land?

I looked up and say my parents in the front seat. My mom turned around and smiled, knowing my thoughts. “We are above the clouds, honey,” she smiled. “What you see is a mountaintop coming up from the valley.”

“Wow!” I though. “Could seeing the ocean for the first time really beat this?”

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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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In Nature, All is Equal

After ten days of rain, the creeks had turned into raging rivers, fields where corn had just begin to show hope, were lakes of muddy brown. Roads had washed away in the loud, angry torrents.

Suddenly, the heaviness of water became too much for the steep, over developed vistas. Firetrucks warned the wealthy residents to get out-now. Forget packing the fancy furnishings, the mountain was giving away!

Our 1920’s bungalow sat safely on a gentle hill, above the swirling waters, below the sliding cliff sides. Now, the moist air was expectantly pleasant. In nature, all man is equal.

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Where Horses Rule

As we buzzed across the inlet in the small boat, we could see the island in the distance. One of the few groups of wild horses left in the eastern United States lived there.

The captain turned off the motor and let us glide close to the shore of the uninhabited island for a better view of the horses. Many of us had cameras and binoculars out for a better view.

I watched as they peacefully grazed in the soft breeze, but wondered how they managed during the frequent hurricanes and strong storms. The secret would remain with them-today.

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The Black Swallowtail Mystery

 

I saw her struggling on a spiderweb on my son’s grave. Many times, I have seen Black Widow spiders there many times. Since I study spiders, I took it as a message, “I’m, here, Mom, I love you.” Now a butterfly was caught in a Black Widow’s web. I study Butterflies too. This must be a message,

Quickly, I released the Black Swallowtail butterfly from the web. I had to work to untangle the stiff web from her leg without hurting her. I wonder if she knew that I had saved her. I wonder what the Black Widow was trying to tell me, catching one of my favorite creatures for her “dinner”.

My heart, already damaged was beating hard. I was shaking. I had to kill the spider, I had no choice. What was going to happen? Was it good, at least for me, or bad-perhaps for someone else. I took a moment to recover. It isn’t easy to get up with a metal hip. I have to get into a position which is rather like a baby starting to crawl, find something to lean on-to help me rise up. My sons black obsidian grave stone.

“What’s wrong?” my son ask when I stumbled in the door, tears running down my cheek.

“I don’t know.” I mumbled. But something is.

All I can do now is wait for the Butterfly and black widow to reveal their message.

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The Theatre Flood

With the stage filling quickly with water, Zora didn’t know what to do. She’d lost her diamond ring and the lights were out.

He took her hand and carefully replaced the priceless ring.

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A Blossom in the Wind

It wasn’t difficult to remember the first time I had been to that old house.

My curly hair was drooping in pigtails, golden brown from the summer sun.

 My Aunt Lilly had whispered to me as we dried the dishes, “I have something I want to show you!”

 “Okay.” I smiled as we continued to work.

 Soon, we climbed into her 1966 white Ford and bumped our way a few miles down the dirt road to a drive way that looked as if had not been used in years. It seemed like the bumping and grinding of the gravel went on forever. Now, I realize, it was only a half mile or so.

 My aunt grabbed my sweaty little hand as we skipped up the chipping rock steps of a wooden cabin, paint long faded to the natural gray of hardwood. She took the key, clipped to her shirt with a safety pin, and unlocked the door.

 It smelled musty inside, and I giggled, ”Yuk,” as I looked up at her.

 “Houses smell like that when no one lives there anymore, Sarah. This is the house I grew up in. I was born here.”

 “But you live on the hillside, Auntie!” I protested. “We were just there!”

 “No, honey, I mean when I was a child, like you. This is where your mother and our brother Willie grew up.”

 I glanced around he room in wonder. It was a mess. The curtains hung down limply, so dusty that the bright sunlight filtered through as if it were sunrise. There was a desk cluttered with writing materials,a yellowed tablet, the edges of the paper curled. a pencil that badly needed sharpened. I noticed that one of the drawers was partly opened and reached to see what was inside.

 My aunt stopped me. “That as mama’s drawer. We weren’t allowed to mess around in there.”“But it’s opened ,Auntie,” I said “Why can’t I look?”

 To be honest, I don’t have a reason, Sarah.” I guess it is just my remembering how we were not to mess in that drawer. Obviously, someone has!”

 “Yeah,” I whined, eyes cat to the floor. “I sure would like to see what’s in there.”

 “Sometimes, Sarah, it is more fun to imagine what a drawer may hold than to actually know.”

 I shrugged my ten year old shoulders and smiled. In my young mind, knowing what was in the drawer would be much more fun.

My aunt and I spent another hour or so wandering through the room. We looked at boxes of old doll, metal cases filled with uncle Willie’s cars. My aunt show me how the pedal operated sewing machine worked, the drawers where scissors and thread were kept. I remember my favorite was the button drawer. In it was an assortment of buttons removed from many different items of clothing before the cloth went into the rag-bag.

 “Why did you bring me here, Auntie?” I asked her as we started out the door.”

 I saw a tear slide down her cheek. “Oh, Sarah,’ she cried. “I was thinking of mamma. It’s been ten years today since she died. We started clean the house , your momma and I and one day, we just didn’t come back. It hurt too much. It was sort of like the drawer, we decided we would rather remember the house the way it had been when she was there, when we were children.”

 That was twenty-seven years ago. I had brought my children there a few times, my mother and I had even come here with Willie one day to get some things out of the barn. But today was different. Today, a tear slipped from my eye as we walked down the steps. We had just buried Aunt Lilly in the family cemetery on the hill. Somehow, I felt a deep, almost mysterious connection with my Aunt Lilly as I looked up at the apple tree, bursting in bloom as if nothing had happened.

 Life changes, time goes by, memories are made, but somethings never seem to change. I snapped a small branch of blossoms and twirled them in my hand. I already had a place picked out for them-the would dry and remain on the inside cover of my Aunt  Lilly’s oldest photograph album. Someday, a young girl with golden brown hair would remember the story that her mother had told her that day.

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Moonlight

In the darkness shines

An obelisk of mystery

My soul, lost in time

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The Art of Writing will Survive!

Throughout the summer, my friends and I have been lamenting the loss of real communication that has taken place within on the past fifteen years or so, when everyone, it seems, had email. One day, a group of relatives decided to have a lunch at my aunts home, with the theme of bringing along their favorite letter from the days when people actually wrote to each other, placed a stamp in the corner and mailed it.

 On that lovely spring day, we gathered at my aunts home, which our family had owned for five generations. We had a simple lunch of finer sandwiches, chips and home-made brownies, all of us anxious to bring out the letters we had brought.

 My aunt, being the hostess, got to show her keepsake first. She pulled out an old letter from her cousin, telling of her vacation to the Grand canyon. The letter was two folded, yellowed pages, filled with eloquently written descriptions of the places they had stopped and taken photographs. She promised to show her friend the pictures she had taken after she had sent them off to be developed.

 An elderly cousin pulled a postcard out of her purse she said had been handed down for generations. It has a ripped edge surrounding a matte-type photo of the Empire State Building. On the back was a description of the Empire State Buildings location and its history in tiny scripted type. To the left was a short note saying simply, “Having a marvelous time. I’ve never seen such tall buildings. Wish you were here!” It was signed, “Your cousin, Edith” and held a faded one cent stamp at its top edge.

 I believe the letter I brought was the favorite. My great-great grandfather had written it to his wife when he was a prisoner-of-war. It was dated November 20, 1963. He was a Captain in the North Carolina 62nd Battalion of Confederate Troop  and was being held at the Officers prison in Sandusky Bay, Ohio. I had been given the letter by a cousin when he found out I was majoring in History in college.

 The script was even and neatly written, The ink had faded to a pale brown. His grammar and writing skill were amazing. I never realized that men were taught to write with such style. It was difficult to fight the tears when he asked about a baby he had never met, mentioned to his “most loving and patient wife” to be sure and tell her sister that “no one else had died since he had last written.”. Everyone took a deep breath as I read the line where he said, with hope, “that they had heard negotiations had been going well and that with luck, the war be over soon and he and the other prisoners could return home” His writing became a big smaller as he said he was limited to one page.

 If we had not already been silenced by his words, the salutation would have done the job. “All of my love from an absent husband.” It said, with initials and last name ending the letter.

 “That was more than two and a half years before he was released.” I reminded my relatives. I brought out a photograph of he and his wife in their later years and passed it around.

 One of my aunts sighed as she said, “It’s shame that writing letters has gone out of style. I can imagine how tasteless and tacky a e-mail would have been.”

 A cousin laughed and reminded us that it might have been a month before the letter made it through enemy territory and miraculously got home to the mountains of North Carolina.

One of the older ladies at our dinner held the photograph in her hand. “My mother told me he had to walk a lot of the way home. There weren’t many trains in the rural south in those days.”

 I was surprised to hear one of the younger cousins speak up. She was holding a baby and was on maternity leave from her teaching job at the local high school. “I don’t think letter writing will ever go out of style.” she said. We heard last week that children are once again being made to know how to write in cursive by fourth grade and that they would be required to write an essay in longhand in middle school.”

 My aunt, who had hosted the event smiled. “Imagine,” she said, “what might have happened to our constitution, to the letters and speeches of Abraham Lincoln, or the hymns sung in churches a hundred and fifty years ago if the equipment to play them had become outdated, or the writers had felt that their words would never be lost on such modern equipment as the internet!”

 Another lady laughed, “My whole hard drive burned out last week, I lost every document I had not printed or saved on some other kind of contraption.”

 “I have an idea!” my aunt sang out, nearly jumping from her chair. “Let’s start a letter writing society.” “When we go on a trip or vacation, attend a special event or reunion, we have to write a real letter to at least one of the people in our group!”

 At first everyone looked around, a little dread in their eyes. Then the young teacher pulled out a tablet and said, “Let’s start collecting names right now. Every body here should try to add three people to our list, and for heaven’s sake, don’t forget to try to get men on the list.” Whoever gets the most new members will be honorary guest at our next meeting!”

 “Next meeting?” I said, “When is our next meeting?”

 “How about the last Thursday in each month?” said my aunt. We can take turns being hostesses and everyone can bring a favorite dish.”

 “I feel like I have woken up in the 1950’s.”smiled my elderly cousin. I can’t wait to go home and write my first letter-it will be about this wonderful meeting!”

 “You know,” I though to myself as I put my album and letters in the car. “People like to communicate, to tell the stories of their lives, see the lovely script of a handwritten letter.” “Having a “like” on your blog will never have the same feeling as writing a letter to someone we actually know about an even that really matters to the reader.

 With all my heart I believe the art of writing a letter will not only come back, it will thrive as we tire of hurried, impersonal and lonely lives that computers have brought us to. It may have a slow start, bu I imagine getting a handwritten letter out of the mailbox on a cold winter day will hold the same joy to my great-grandchild as it did to my great-grandmother!

https://beebeesworld.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/rhe-art-of-writing-will-survive/

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I’ve Seen Rain and I’ve Seen Heat

During a week when we have been cursed by floods like we haven’t seen in decades, I have been amazed at how the heat from a few hours of sunshine, mixed with the extreme humidity have affected us.

We spend our winters in the mountains, praying for warmth, the heat of a warm fire, the fragrance of smoke as it spits it’s sparks and curls of smoke drift across the room.

 In summer, we have spent years in a drought situation, accompanied by late frost, cold weather, name the weather curse.

 This year, its been rain, rain, rain. We are 14” over the average. We have been flooded daily for a week, the 4th of July caused major damaged, it has rained almost every day, the water has no where to go, creek banks have washed way, yards, fields, gold courses are lakes, and still it rains.

 I must admit that during a few hours of sun-temperatures only in the low 80’s, the heat felt overwhelming, with the humidity so high, it was almost visible. This is not the way we usually think of heat in July. But every few decades, the weather seems to sen us an often unwanted surprise.

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