Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 21, 2016 Faun In the Rushes of the Cottonwood Trail

I has rained for days. The trail has deep puddles of water. The creek is the delicious color of caramel.  Just a few feet off the boardwalk, a tiny faun is nestled in the reeds and rushes, a baby of such perfect beauty with large brown eyes and white speckled brown coat.  It has a complete stillness.  I have the impossible urge to touch it and speak to it in hushed tones, sing it a lullaby.  I don't see it's mother, although I suspect she is there watching.

Native Americans, especially the Eastern Woodland and Plains Indians associate deer with fertility and love.
There is often a duality in the spirit of the Deer Woman of love and death, encouragement and punishment. She gives and she takes away.

Native peoples of the North West believed at the time of creation, that there were Gods who were Animal People. In a later age, the Great Changer arrived to turn some of them into rocks and mountains and bodies of water or trees and plants.  There is a story of Deer trying to stop the Changer and for this, the Changer turned Deer into a shy creature, often the food of man.

Today the earth itself is giving.  All around it is lush and green. Purple flowers bloom in the marsh. Red wild strawberries are along the paths. Blue birds zip through the sky.

I look for Great Blue and suddenly he is there, soaring over the full wetlands.  It is a good day for fishing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May 3, 2016 Grief is the Price for Love, the Columbia Canal and Riverwalk

The walk between the canal and the Congaree River reopened two weeks ago after the devastating floods of the fall.

At the entrance I find a new bronze statue of a young woman holding the scales of justice. Below her is a garden for victims of crime. There is a circular walk surrounded by stella d'oro (stars of gold) lilies in full golden bloom and knockout rose bushes of blushing pink popsickle color.  In the brick walk are the names of victims of crime and here and there a brick with messages of love and bible verses.  One brick states "Grief is the Price of Love."

I walk again where I have come so many times before, under the crape myrtles dedicated to  loved ones.  I cross the bridge of the canal and breathe in the cool damp air. The sky is overcast and after I have gone a mile along the water, the clouds open with  a deluge. I stand under an oak tree with a woman and her dog but soon she leaves to go back.  I run for the railroad trestle and highway overpass, soaked and laughing where I meet a Saudi couple and their baby Tameen. The woman wears a long  wet abeyya of pale lavender. Her eye makeup makes one long gray rivulet down her lovely face.  The ranger comes in his truck and offers us all a ride, but no one is interested.  We like the rain which has brought strangers together on this planet. I bid my new friends goodbye and continue on down the trail discovering that the second overpass has shiny new bowed girders reflecting themselves in the water below.
The old bridge abutments that for years stood useless in the water and looked like statues of Darth Vader are now gone.  The rain is over. There are aquamarine breaks in the clouds. The geese are back paddling the river. Birds fly into the bushes and trees which are lush now with the nutrients washed over them by the flooding water.

After a long and beautiful walk, I stop in the rest room and try to dry my clothes in the forced air from the hand dryer.

I visit the Crime Victim Garden one more time and leave with tears and wet with rain.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 26, 2016 The Drayton Mill Trail, Spartanburg

These are the days, the most beautiful of the year, temperatures from the 60's to 80's, without snow, tornados, blinding heat and rain.  All is green and growing.

This trail is new to me although completed in the past year in agreement between the Milikin owners of the old defunct weaving and spinning cotton mill who have made the mill into luxury apartments. Behind the apartment building and it's swimming pool and up the street, I can see yellow tape out in the woods. tonight there is to be a Shindig with music and art from Converse students on the trail.

This is a black top trail which winds through the green forest for a mile and then connects with the trail at the Mary Black Hospital on Skylyn. There are plans to connect with the Cottonwood Trail and indeed they have already plowed the ground for it.

Along the way a few trees are marked:  White Oak, Black Oak, Scarlet Oak, Sour Gum, Gum, Hickory, Mocknut Hickory.  The first student sculpture is wooden frames hanging in the trees. Some have plastic water bottles.  On the right there are two silver metal trees, then a rough hewn wooden bench surrounded by 20 small rock cairns.  Down the hill from the trail is a stream with a dirt path beside it.

I take the trail until I can see through the woods, a place of torture on the road:  my dentist's office, and then Mary Black Hospital.

Going back I meet a walker wearing a T shirt with the head of an eagle on the front.  She is a native of the Drayton Community and tells me how her grandfather took her to walk at the drained pond beside the trail where one Canadian Goose floats with great dignity. She tells me there is a leak now in the dam which is why it is drained.  She tells me that where the dirt path is, there are springs which at times, bubble up into mud holes.

The beautiful woods of the trail, may be developed into a neighborhood with homes.  She has mixed feelings about her love of the community and the wealthy developers who have come to change it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

April 4, 2016 Canoeing the Lake at Calloway Gardens

Calloway Gardens is about 80 miles north east of Atlanta and Decatur on the edge of the mountains.  It is near the Roosevelt State Park and the  hot springs where the president went to heal from his polio.  It is 17 miles from LaGrange where the founding Calloway had his first department store at the age of 18 and made his fortune.

Eleanor, Mathew and I are driving through the little mountainesque town of Pine Mountain. Mathew, who is eleven, is doing "stand up comedy" in the back seat.  On the side of the road a muscular middle aged man with a golden pony tail is marching back and forth from his baggage and water canteen strapped onto  five packed wheeled carts to another space down the street just a block. One cart has a big white printed sign proclaiming "ON A MISSION FROM JESUS".  The man is wearing an orange safety vest. a white T shirt, shorts and good hiking boots.

At Calloway Gardens and after a lot of discussion, the three of us embark in a canoe onto the lake. We paddle out from a covered stone boat dock and circle the lake, visiting ducks and blooming azaleas on the shore. After an hour, we paddle back into the dock.

We visit the Butterfly House, a beautiful glass green house where there are tropical plants blooming, water vapor misting and butterflies and moths in all the colors of the rainbow, flying and alighting on dark green leaves.  A brilliant blue butterfly is spreading its wings on the back of a turtle and suddenly flops into the water below.  There is a splash and in an instant, it is gone, eaten by a hungry fish.

Going home, we stop, for gas in Pine Mountain where the man on a mission has made almost no progress in moving his carts.  One by one, he slowly wheels them a few more feet down the street.

We eat supper at the little Saigon restaurant near Eleanor's house. She gets Pho for Mathew in hopes the clear soup will help him recover from the pollen.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

April 3, 2016 Living Walls on the Atlanta Beltline

Eleanor, Mathew and I are driving on DeKalb Street, passing the Living Walls, the painted expression of a city speaking. Paint on an underpass states: Never Give Up.  We park the car and merge ourselves into the mass of human beings walking, biking and skating the Beltline, a path which will one day encircle the whole of the city.  The world is in bloom and the air is filled with pollen. Mathew is coughing and his nose is running.
My eyes are inflamed.

IT is Spring Break and those families who did not flee to the beaches of the Gulf or the sea islands of the Atlantic are all outside, joyously moving in the warm air.

Today is Hannah's birthday, born on a day when the earth itself is celebrating it's birth. At least here in the Northern hemisphere in South Carolina where it is an all out glorious Spring.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

March 7, 2016 Hunting Island: Goobye and Thanks For All the Books

The sun rises over the silver ocean.  Where the jungle trail meets the sand split between the submerged dead trees and a shining dark pond, the ospreys have made a nest of sticks at the top of a tall dead tree.  A birder from Charlotte is there with a long lensed camera waiting for them to arrive.

A pair of cormorants is floating and diving on the pond. We watch them until they fly up, circle and land on the branches of a dead oak out in the ocean.

Other than the birder, the beach is empty. We have stayed in the light house cabin over night.

Yesterday, Pat Conroy, died in Beaufort Hospital.  His home was just here on Fripp Island.

This week, his brother, a neighbor of my son, John, said, "I have to go to Beaufort, to put my brother back into the river."

In the sand, I write:  "Goodbye Pat, And Thanks For All the Books"

By now, the water has washed my message away.

Monday, March 7, 2016

March 3, 2016 Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site

People walking across the grounds of this historic site are not wearing clothing for a day's walk or picnic. Instead they are dressed formally in dresses, suits and ties. They gather at the obelisk, an ancient brick structure of two stories in height with arched passages through it.  A wedding is taking place.

I am looking for the interpretive trail and ask a woman exiting her car with her brown and white English Spaniel, Bradley.  She points to the tabby fort and tells me to walk into it and through it out the other side and I will find a trail along the Ashley River.  The trail ends abruptly by the lovely green river.  There is a cormorant perched on a rock or piece of masonry in the flow.  Another dog walker (she has a Shitzu and a Yorkie) tells me in a New York accent, that the trail goes another way beyond the fort, but it goes into the woods and she was afraid to follow it.  I try that one and it also ends abruptly by the river.

Here, without trails, there is the old tabby fort, built in the 17th century, an architectural dig of the old town, picnic tables and a restroom, the brick obelisk, beautiful trees and the green flowing river.

I leave to find my way South towards Beaufort and in the outskirts of the town of Summerville, now clogged with traffic, there is a sign, advertising " GATOR RABBIT AND BUFFALO BURGERS.  There is no restaurant to be seen.  I take 165 for about 15 miles to the hamlet of Ravenel.  Along the way, pink and purple azaleas are in full bloom.

On Hwy 17, a small car passes, proclaiming on its back window:  "I Kayak, Therefore I Am".