Sunday, February 28, 2010

Garden Greens a la Randy

Our new garden is now tilled, hilled and planted thanks to Sir Randy, our resident horticulturist.

The tilling was contentious, and not because the soil is virgin Georgia red clay. It is an existing garden, soft and loamy. After the months of rain and wet conditions, the tiller sinks right in. And stays in one place. So after fighting that for an hour or so, it was time for a break.

As a reward for his physical labors (he'd also trimmed back our pampas and maiden hair grasses, a photina, the white oak, a leyland cypress and several pines), I took him downtown for a big, juicy cheeseburger at The Poolroom. After a trip to Home Depot for more seed, and Kroger for food and petrol, we were home again.

I settled in to the armchair to watch one of my favorites, The African Queen, with Bugsy curled up behind me (as he is now). The landscaper dude went back out to attack the freshly tilled soil. Two hours later, Charlie and Rosie had fallen in love. Bogey was clowning with hippos and monkeys, and they were spending their last hours of bliss before heading back down the Ulanga.

I hadn't heard the tiller in a very long time, and there is no window on the garden (east) side of our trailer. I took a time-out from movieland, donned my shoes and went outside to check on my man. And, wow. There he was, straddling a row, rake in hand, patting down the soil over freshly-sown seed. The garden plot was rowed in raised hills, each row neatly labeled.

Duly impressed, I said, "Wow!".

He stopped momentarily to step out and take a breath, and put his long arm around me. I nestled in (he's a foot taller than me: 6'3" to my 5'3") as we surveyed his handiwork with pride.

We now have 17 rows of greens; two varieties of spinach, several of lettuce, mustard, kale, turnip, rape (a novelty we'll both be trying for the first time) and carrots. It's the end of a cold winter, tomorrow is the first day of March, so greens are in order. Hopefully, they'll all come up and be spared by the plentiful neighborhood rabbits. (Where's Queenie, the beagle, when ya need her?) And, Bugsy won't mistake the neat rows for his own private litter box.

Today is Randy's home day. Me? I'll be shuffling off soon to paint. I'm staying in the food category, though. One room will be painted an eggplant-y color, another, deep, dark avocado.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Church at the End of the Road

Yesterday, I threw on my shoes, coat, scarf and gloves and ran screaming out the door. Metaphorically speaking, that is. After seven hours spent mostly in front of the computer, I had to get out of here.

I only had time for a short walk. Which, was good because when I reached the end of my football-field-length driveway and turned the corner, an arctic wind, at 20+ miles an hour, struck me head on. I took a few steps and almost turned around. Then, thought of my sister, Cheryl, who walks in 60 mph winds. In the winter. In Wyoming. So, I pulled my hood over my head, wrapped my scarf around it, hunkered down in my coat, and carried on.

I live at the end of New Hope Drive where it crosses Bailey Waters and becomes New Hope Circle. Seems all the roads in North Georgia are either named for a church or for a person that lives on that road. As you might guess, New Hope Church sits on that circle. My driveway lets out between it and Bailey Waters Road.

It's an old church. Baptist. Established in 1848. They only have two services a month, on the first and third Sundays, the third Sunday service is at 7:30 in the morning. I suspect that's a holdover from earlier times when farming was the norm.

After walking around the circle and down Bailey Waters, I turned around just shy of Hwy 52, grateful to have the wind at my back.Retracing my footsteps, I detoured through the small cemetery, reading headstones and markers as I rambled.

Nearing a tent covering the mound of a grave new enough that I could still smell the blanket of wilting flowers, I let the tears that were threatening, flow. As I read the marker I felt my own pain of losing a loved one. A mother. A father. A brother.

There was a marble bench nearby, so I sat for a while, marveling that the stone didn't feel so cold. Eventually, I lay back and watched the clouds, though it inward was that I looked. Was something current prompting the tears? Finding nothing, I sat up and called a California friend that I hadn't talked to in a while. We passed pleasantries and nothings, then I said goodbye. To the friend and to the bench.

I'm fascinated by cemeteries, especially old ones. My grandparents, my father, my brother, a niece, greats and others are buried in one in Villa Rica. I never much cared for it and maybe that's why. But there is a silent sacredness I feel, a special bond to the departed, a magnetic pull that draws me in.

Many of the those buried in New Hope Cemetery, mostly couples, were born in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Interesting that they lived to ripe-old ages, 80s, 90s, 100. And, most of the couples were married for a really long time. I wonder if they were baptized in that church, or married, or both. It's certain they were laid to rest here. The sentiments on the headstones give me pause. And a tiny insight in to lives gone by.

As I walked back down my long driveway, I thought how different their lives must have been. I'm fairly certain they raised their own food, eating lots of ripe fruits and vegetables from the garden, chickens, eggs and hogs they'd raised on their farms. Milk and butter straight from the cow, never pasteurized. Unadulterated water from the wells they'd dug, no plastic bottles. The air they breathed wasn't full of pollutants, the sky not colored by contrails. They weren't bombarded by EMF's from electrical wires, or telephones or cells. Their planet wasn't orbited by satellites, and didn't look from outer space like a dog with fleas (Click on the link below to see for yourself.).

No wonder they lived and prospered long, and celebrated 70-year anniversaries with beloved spouses.

My planet is polluted, but soon I'll be eating vegetables raised in my own garden, pesticide-free. And chickens (and their eggs) that roam my yard. I'll have access to unpasteurized goat milk and cheese, beef raised in pastures where they roam and graze. My water is from a well, no plastic bottles for me.

Once more, I am glad that I moved here. Each day I am more sure of my decision. And I'm happy that Dawsonville found me.

Earth's Satellites, Doesn't it Look Like a Dog with Fleas? It me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thinking of Changing the Subtitle of my Blog, Your Thoughts Requested

I'm thinking of changing the subtitle of my blog to: Adventures of a Southern-Fried Earth Angel rather than: Musings of a Southern-Fried Earth Angel.

Any thoughts, votes, queries, posers???

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bearden Falls

"On reaching the rocks below, all the waters flowed together in a glorious host, forming an exuberant, rushing torrent which swirled triumphantly around and over the rocks.

Laughing and shouting at the tops of their voices, they hurried still lower and lower, down through the meadows to the next glorious crisis of their self-giving. From there they would again cast themselves down to the valleys far below. Far from suffering from the rocks, it seemed as though every obstacle in the bed of the torrent was looked upon as another opportunity to find a way over or around it. Everywhere was the sound of water, laughing, exulting, shouting in jubilation." ~excerpt from Hinds' Feet on High Places, an allegory by Hannah Hunnard

Years ago, I read this wonderful book, at the urging of my friend, mentor and sponsor, Helen Rowe. Over the intervening years, I've often thought of Hannah's words, describing the ecstasy and joy of water as it hurries about its job.

I've always had a special affinity with water; streams, creeks, rivers, oceans. Gentle mists, torrential rains, thunderstorms. Ponds, fountains, puddles. I love showering in it, bathing in it, drinking it. And, I ache for water when I see it in stagnant, waste-filled, smelly ponds, tarred on beaches, and gushing out of faucets with no regard. Water was even instrumental in my decision to return to school to become a chiropractor.

Yesterday we hiked up Frosty Mountain, mere miles from our home, in search of Bearden Falls. It was a beautiful, spring-like day, warm with blue skies and lots of sun. We followed Jack Anthony, Jr's, directions (from Waterfalls of North Georgia) and ended up on a mud-puddly forest service road, FS-2. We pulled to the side to let Mitch Crump, Law Enforcement Officer for the DNR, pass. He stopped beside us, rolled down his window, and spent several minutes answering our questions about the road up ahead, Nimblewill Creek and Bearden Falls. After giving us a map of the Trout Streams of Georgia, we both moved along.

We parked in a clearing and struck out on foot to follow the right-fork (Bearden Creek) off Nimblewill Creek as Jack's book instructed, noting there was "no designated trail". Picking our way across the creek, we lit out on our quest.

The ground was soft and leaf-strewn and there were many side streams trickling down to join the creek. At times we had to cross on moss-covered rocks. About midway, my foot slipped in to the water, anointing my new hiking shoes.

We never encountered another person. After one crossing, though, the terrain leveled out in a clearing that was scattered with clothes. Shirts, jeans and several pairs of shoes lined either side of what now was a trail through the woods. It was odd and spooky, as if a bear or something else not benevolent, had gotten hold of a pack and shaken out the contents while running helter-skelter down the trail.

We hurried on our way, soon surrounded by hemlocks, a tree I am coming to know and to love. Randy tells me they're mostly found near water. I've witnessed their presence around Boggs Creek and now Bearden, and their tiny needles remind me of sequoias.

After a solid hour of following the creek, the last ten minutes spent clinging to the side of its steepening bank, we found another trail. This one entered a hardwood forest. Surrounded by their magnificent trucks, I looked up. The sight of all those tall, naked trees reaching for the azure sky took what little breath I'd managed to suck down in my pause. I spend so much time looking down at my feet, that I forget, sometimes, to look up.

From here, the trail started climbing in earnest and the steep canyon walls narrowed toward us. When the trail crossed the creek once more, I had to stop. Chivalrous, as always, Randy obliged. The only sound from our perch on an outcrop was the rushing of water over rocks.

Rested, we forged on. Randy pointed out a small trickle of water on the rock face to our right and said (only half-kiddingly because we'd been climbing so long), "there it is."

We chuckled and kept going, not to be daunted.

A few feet further, and there, on the skyline, it was. A rushing torrent of water cascading down, large enough that we knew we'd stuck gold. We hurried now, eager to reach our waterfall.

The way had narrowed, almost impossibly, and there was no longer a trail of any sort. We grabbed pencil-thick rhododendrons to pull ourselves up, slapped back brambles, scrambled over fallen trees and pushed off rocks to gain purchase on the steep hillside, always with the mighty falls before us. The closer we climbed, the harder it was to see them. Nearing the top, Randy signaled me to wait while he picked his way down to the creek and through the brush to scope out an approach.

I waited. Finally, he signaled 'up'. I paused for him to reach me and resume the lead. Reaching a fallen hemlock that was sturdy and strong, he walked out on it, with me close behind. There, in front of us, the brush and trees opened to the sight of forceful Bearden Falls.

Ahhh. We rested on the log, suspended over the water, as the pounding of our hearts subsided. We took pictures. Basked in the warmth of the sun and the sound of the leaping, rushing, crashing water. After a while, we shimmied down to the rocks and I sat in a bed of damp moss. Randy ventured farther out on the rock, leaning out and straddling to take more pictures. I lay back and closed my eyes, content, no more words or thoughts rumbling around in my mind. Only peace and the massive sound of the falls.

We stayed like that for close to an hour. Then, reluctantly, we picked our way back down. My new hiking shoes were filthy, as was the seat of my jeans. My left arm was scratched from the sawbriars, my right eyeball scratched from a limb-slap early on. I was exhausted. And jubilant. And happy as a lark.

The trip down was faster.

We found the trail and saw the tracks of a dirt bike that had come up, no doubt, while we'd been languishing under the roaring falls. We tracked it back, following the trail we hadn't known existed, crossing the river where he had crossed.

It no longer mattered if we got wet, so when the rocks weren't handy, we slushed through the water. Soon we were back to the truck, wet, dirty, and still full of the experience of Bearden Falls.

We'll be venturing out again, in the very near future, down FS-1 in search of another waterfall...of this, I am sure.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My New Office aka The Building that Picked Me

I got up early this morning to hush the cat's meow. It's Saturday and a sleep-in day for Randy, who's usually out the door by now. Bugsy's our Bugazoid alarm clock, only he doesn't know the difference between Saturday and Tuesday.

I make my tea and slide the armchair over a bit to get a better view of the sunrise. Now that Bugsy is happy, after chasing the string and eating a bite, he's settled quietly on the ottoman in Buddha-style.

It was another night of restless dream-sleep. This time two friends from high school kept appearing, Carmen and Linda. We were classmates again, only now in college, and I don't remember much else. Except that it was about saying goodbyes. And leavings. Once, I woke up to a cold house and, wrapping the blanket around me, padded down the hall to check the thermostat to find it had reset itself to a chilly 62. I adjusted it and climbed back in bed to snuggle.

It's Saturday and today my chiropractic table gets sprung from storage and moved in to the new office.

Did I tell you about the office? It's right smack-dab in the middle of downtown Dawsonville, on the square across from the County Courthouse. I first spotted it the day I drove out to Bailey Waters to see the trailer. On the way back, I had to circle through the dreaded roundabout, like every car must. Shooting out the other side (after missing a yield sign and getting honked at), I saw, looming before me, this white building on the corner with a For Rent sign.

"For rent!" my heart leapt.

"Nahhh. Too big, too expensive," my brain replied. "But perfect location. We'll file it for future reference."

Long story short, that building, born in 1884, will be my new office. It is much too big and an awful layout for a chiropractic office. Plus, it needs lots of work. I'd given up on it. Let it go. And was moving to find room at a local spa when the owner contacted me. Seems another chiropractor was interested in possibly sharing it.

I met Lou and Laura DeTrinco on a Thursday at the Pool Room, the local hamburger joint/watering hole (and tribute to local legend, Nascar's Bill Elliott). And fell instantly in love. Dr D, a native New Yorker, has been practicing SOT for 35 years and travels, teaching. Laura, his wife, is a feng shui expert and a belly dancer/teacher. She'd run the numbers and was ecstatic over the money energy in this building. Ironically, the money is in the smallest room in the house.

But the location is amazing and the rent split, reasonable. We're moving furniture and my table in today. And painting. One of the rooms is enormous. Laura will fill it with classes of all sorts; belly dancing, yoga, pilates. We'll open it to 12 Step groups for meetings. And anything else to fill it up.

I can't shake the feeling that this building picked me. That Dawsonville picked me. Why is that?

I don't know. And I don't know that I need to know.

What I do know is that I love Dawsonville. Even though my inner cynic, the one that usually runs post-haste from small towns, wants not to. And can find lots of reasons why I shouldn't.

But, as I drive in any direction from the center of this tiny town, I am enchanted. Every road leading out (and hence, in) is delightful. They wind and ramble and are, in places, breathtaking. If you're heading north, you see mountains.

And, I'm hooked.

More often than not, I find myself with a big smile on my face. And joy singing in my heart.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Flurries and Cat Sighs

This morning I woke up to 20 degree temperatures and snow flurries. Sitting here with Bugsy in the ancient, oversized armchair, I look out at the snowflakes fluttering against the sunrise, and wonder why we call them flurries.

When I think of a flurry, I think of a quick burst of frenetic activity. These flakes, on the other hand, are very casual as they drift with no apparent aim. Most follow some mysterious, circuitous route, floating up, down and all around. Many chase each other and do aerobic acrobats before continuing on their individual journeys to the ground.

Hardly any of the snowflakes seem to be in a hurry, but rather float randomly, and lazily, around. In fact, it seems their goal is to stay in the air as long as they possibly can. They play on the wind, merry and unrestrained. Very few of them fall straight down.

So why the name ‘snow flurries’?

It has more to do with the volume, I think. There aren’t enough flakes to classify as a snow shower. And when a good, stiff breeze blows, they actually do hurry. Mostly in one direction, sideways, toward the ground.

Bugsy watches with interest, as do I. What does my cat ponder? Knowing Bugsy, he’s thinking of being outside, chasing those fluttering flakes.

Unable to do so, he takes a big, deep breath. And sighs.

Curling up on the back of the chair, he presses his cheek close to the window and naps, dreaming in his sleep, of the chase.

Me? I can’t help but think how like these snowflakes we humans are. And I long to be more like the playful, capricious flakes. And less like the ones that hurry to the ground.

Flurry: definition according to The Free Dictionary: flurry n pl -ries

1. a sudden commotion or burst of activity

2. a light gust of wind or rain or fall of snow

3. (Economics, Accounting & Finance / Stock Exchange) Stock Exchange a sudden brief increase in trading or fluctuation in stock prices

4. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Fishing) the death spasms of a harpooned whale
vb -ries, -rying, -ried

to confuse or bewilder or be confused or bewildered

[from obsolete flurr to scatter, perhaps formed on analogy with hurry]

Monday, February 15, 2010

Scenes from an Unsettled Mind

I dream in vivid colors and bold action, multiple vignettes that fade on waking. Left behind are bits and snatches, impressions of the endless parade through my mind.

This morning, left behind was a sense of frustration. Of pushing and pulling, cajoling, trying, vying. Doing what was in front of me to do, only to find I’d made the wrong choice. Wrong place, wrong time. Wrong decision, wrong action. Wrong world, wrong life.

Rising did nothing to quiet the frustration, bringing it forward in to my morning.

The weather outside matches my mood, dark gray clouds raining drops all around. Scooping green tea leaves in to a strainer, I immerse them in the mug I bought last year in Solana Beach where I’d run away to escape from my perplexing life.

So much has changed since then, I live in a different home on the opposite coast, have a different partner, different car. Yet, nothing essential has changed.

My life has been a marathon; running to, running from, running in place.

There are times when I feel I’m living out an episode of The Twilight Zone. When, in the quiet, still places of my mind, I have a sense of the world and it’s a lonely, frightful place, not at all what I’ve been trained (or want) to believe.

I look out the window and the dark clouds and rain have been scuttled by a brisk, cold wind from the south. It’s now sunny, with blue skies, but still unsettled; a perfect match for my insides.

What lies before me is an office to create, a partner to consult, paint colors to decide, a sign-maker to rouse, paperwork to fill out, licenses to obtain, insurance to buy, patients to find. Yet, here I sit, in the Twilight Zone, feeling like a hamster on a wheel and that none of that matters.

In these times, my mind strays, uninvited, to thoughts of Armageddon and warnings of 2012. To visions I’ve had of being a mighty warrior, wielding the sword of truth and might. Of being, not the peacemaker as I’ve been most of my life, but one on the frontline of chaos and terror.

Why so melancholy? It’s the dreams. And the visions. They haunt me, making it increasingly harder to put one foot in front of the other. How must Columbus have felt, knowing in his heart that the world was round? Or Lincoln, standing on the precipice of a world gone mad?

My internet is down. Must be the wind. Next door a dog bays, reminding me of the beagle we’d found and taken in. Yesterday, on the way to Valentine’s brunch, we saw a sign declaring ‘Lost Beagle’, and called. Her owners came in the afternoon and, while Bugsy, my cat, is happy, there is a small hole in my heart.

Speaking of Bugsy, he just fell off the table. He was lying here, soaking up the warmth of the sun, then stretched, lazily, a little too far, and fell off. I scrambled out of my chair and grabbed him up, holding him gently in a loving embrace. He purred, my eyes watered, and I remembered, once again: this is all that matters.


Whether life goes on for days, weeks or years, for minutes or for eons, love is the glue that binds us to it. Love is the spark that powers our hearts, and holds us together to live one more day and to dream one more night.

Have you had similar visions? Dreams? Knowings? Do you wake up in the morning unsettled? Do you cling to love, as I?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Me Lord?

When I found out I was moving to a place in the country, I thought, "Hmm, boonies...dark at night...coyotes...good place for a big dog." I mentioned this to Randy, who didn't seem all that thrilled, but was okay with maybe, someday getting a puppy. And keeping it outside.

A few times I've searched craiglist, as a looky-lou. Saw a few cuties, one in particular.

I haven't had a dog since the parade of strays that came and went during my childhood. Well, there was the German Shepherd I had in chiropractic school. I wasn't home enough, had no fence around my back yard, and he was angry and aggressive with other dogs. I gave him up to a family on a big farm with a lake, because Max loved to swim. That was fifteen years ago and cured me of any urges to have a dog. Until now.

Last weekend, after dark, I heard a baying outside that sounded very close. Curious, I opened the back door and listened. It was coming from the pasture behind us, on the other side of a small pine thicket. We figured maybe a coon dog had treed a possum. Or something else. The racket continued for a while, then stopped.

Two mornings ago, I was sitting at the computer writing. I heard the baying again, only this time it was coming from the front yard. I opened the door to see a small, aged beagle running around in circles like a mental patient sniffing the ground, and occasionally lifting its head to let out its distinctive bark. Bugsy, my guard kitty, stood at the screen door watching, back arched and growling.

I laughed a little and went back to my writing and eventually he went away.

This afternoon, I came home and there he was, curled up in a ball at the edge of the woods. He didn't get up when I pulled in, just lifted his head and looked at me. He didn't get up when I approached him, either. Just lay there, shivering, in the cold, cold wind. I got a thin blanket and covered him up, tried to warm him with my body heat. That made him uncomfortable, so I let him be.

On investigation, I found out he doesn't belong to a neighbor. And apparently showed up in the hood about the time we moved in. I offered him a handful of cat food. He gulped it down, but seemed too weak to stand when I tried to lure him in the house. So I gathered him up in the blanket and carried him, laying him down in the back room with the stinky carpet we have yet to yank out.

And found that he is a she. An old girl who has had more than one litter of pups. Full-blooded. And half-starved. Her hip bones and ribs stick out. Her ears are nicked from battles past. Apparently beyond her useful years and discarded, abandoned, left behind.

I fed her. Randy loved on her a bit. Then I fed her again, gave her some water. She's curled up in a ball, on the blanket. Still weak. But warm, out of the cold, and out of danger.

Why me? Why my yard? I know that God does answer prayer. The universe sends us what we ask for. But this beagle, this girl, is no puppy. And, she's certainly not a big dog, a coyote would eat her in one bite.

Of course, I'm not a 'puppy' either. My bark, like hers, is worse than my bite. While I'm beyond my useful, child-bearing years, some think I'm certainly not beyond mothering. I am no longer so cute, and getting grayer and more wrinkled by the minute. My hip bones don't stick out, but my hips do, and some of the better parts sag. She bays, I'm told I whine.

And, heaven knows, I have certainly been guilty of running around in circles sniffing the ground. And of howling at the moon. And wishing for things I can't seem to have.

The Beagle, from Animal Planet, click here to hear a beagle bay

Monday, February 8, 2010

Along the Road in North Georgia: More Adventures, Great and Small...

Rain, rain and more rain. Having moved here less than two months ago from Southern California, I am still enjoying the liquid sunshine, even though Black Betty (my aged Cabrio convertible for those of you who don't know her) is leaking in places she shouldn't.

The rain has interfered with some of our activities, but on Saturday, determined to buy blueberry bushes, we set out underneath swollen skies.Our home is just a short jog off Hwy 52, so we turned east and made for Ellijay, passing the entrance to Amicalola Falls on our way to Johnson Nursery. One turn on to Big Creek Road and we were there, and parked amidst puddles the size of small ponds.

In the office, we met the owners, Mary Jo and Bill Ford...delightful, engaging and informative. Mary Jo recommended Rabbiteyes, Delite and Premier, which we paid for, then collected outside. When I remarked on the occasional snow flake drifting down, Bill said "ssshhhh, don't encourage it!"

With our prizes tucked behind the seat of the truck, we slip-slided through more puddles (after a running start), then drove in to Ellijay. By then, our bellies were growling, and rather than settling for Arby's or Hardee's, we agreed on a gastronomical adventure. Parking on River Street, just off the square, we walked by a place boasting the World's Best Chili Dog and a BBQ joint, then spied a white board across the street touting daily specials, including strawberry cake. Looking at each other, we decided to give it a try.

And, boy oh boy, what a treat! The sign on the door said "Hours: 11ish to 3ish" (my kind of hours!). It was just past 11, and, because it was early, we got our choice of tables, under the 'specials' chalk board on the wall. I chose a cup of the Baked Potato Soup; Randy, an Erie-sized bowl of the Tomato Basil. We both had the ham and swiss, which was lightly toasted, with the swiss melted atop a generous pile of thinly-sliced ham.

I ate only half, to save room for a piece of the buttery strawberry cake, with cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries. The food was so yummy, the atmosphere and help so warm and friendly, we've added the Cantaberry Restaurant to our list of favorite eateries, and will, no doubt, be back.

Tucking away leftover boxes of cake and the rest of my sandwich, we shivered back to the Ranger. Up Hwy 515 we trekked, spying several Log Home dealers, took a spin through the town of Blue Ridge past the historic railroad depot (can't wait to go back to browse the shops when the weather warms!), across to Blairsville, then struck south on Hwy 129.

Not far from the summit at Neels Gap, it started to snow and, by the time we braked to turn in at Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi, it was slick enough to make a slide-ways entrance in to the parking lot. We clambered out of the car to the sight of a tiny snowman atop a fence post (which I would've missed had Randy not paused to take a picture.)

I could feel the history at Walasa-Yi, feel the thousands of hikers who've passed through there as they hiked the Appalachian Trail. I've never had a desire to hike it, myself, but now...a need is stirring inside me. I wish I'd picked up a copy of "Just Passin' Through" by Winton Porter, the owner of Mountain Crossings Outfitters, and, when I go back (soon!), I shall. I looked up the meaning of Walasi-Yi and here's what I found: "WALASIYI INN, Vogel State Park. This lodge was named after the legendary great frog that the Cherokees called Walasiyi, which was described as being "as big as a house and would hop across the valleys."

Warm again, and relieved, we left reluctantly, stopping for more pictures of the hiking boots hanging from tree limbs and the overlook, then headed down the other side of the mountain. Close to the bottom, was the entrance to Boggs Creek and, on a last-minute impulse, we turned off the highway and down the one-lane road that rambles alongside the creek, stopping on the way to enjoy the bubbling serenity of water rushing over rock.

The rest of the journey took us to Pappy's and then Turner's Corner, where first the BBQ joint and then, the restaurant overlooking the creek, have shut down. Hopefully, some other adventurous souls will buy them and provide sustenance to the nature crowd, those of us who love afternoon jaunts through the wild.

Back home, we called it a day, ready for more adventures on the morrow...

Pictures courtesy of Randy Jeffers, photographer. From top: Cantaberry Restaurant in Ellijay, GA; Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi; Hiking Boots at Walasi-Yi; and Boggs Creek.

Appalachian Trail Experience 2006: Just Gene: April 6, 2006: From Justice Creek to Walasayi inn

Appalachian Trail Experience 2006: Just Gene: April 6, 2006: From Justice Creek to Walasayi inn

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Little Boxes

I live in a trailer. There, I said it. I live in a trailer. An aluminum box with walls like cardboard, small cabinets, very few drawers and thin slats, barely thicker than veneer, for trim. And while it has garden tubs in the two bathrooms, they're made of plastic. So the magnetic cloth shower liners I was careful to buy, won't even stick to the sides.

Why does this bother me? Why does it feel as if I've slid down a couple of notches on the totem pole of life? It is, after all, just a box. We all live in boxes; whether aluminum, wood, brick, block or stucco, they're all just boxes.

Most likely it is not the physical box that bothers me, so much as the cultural box we Americans have assigned to people who live in trailers. You know...trailer trash.

Wikipedia defines trailer trash as: "A derogatory North American English term for poor white people. The term originates from the belief that such people often reside in trailers or mobile homes, especially in trailer parks."

Urban Dictionary is not so kind: "Derogatory description for person who seems well-suited to residential life in a mobile home park and is distinguished by poor hygiene, foul language, slovenly or slutty clothing, and general ignorance. Recreations include drinking malt liquor in lawn chairs under tattered R.V. awning and teenage pregnancy. Close synonymn for poor white trash."

Actually, the second 'definition' found in UD is slightly more enlightened: "First of all you don't need to live in a trailer to be trailer trash, and only a small percentage of people who actually do live in a trailer are considered trailer trash and their characteristics are...annoying loud mouths, dirty houses and clothes, greasy hair, their kids are out of control, lazy."

Herein lies my quandary. My current home now places me in the same cultural box as trailer trash, or poor white trash, a box I have spent a lifetime peddling furiously to stay out of.

Ironic, that.

Interestingly enough, I love it. No, I don't love getting used to plastic bathtubs and having no 'junk' drawer to hide my mess. But I love that we have plenty of room to spread out, in this 16' x 80' box. Our previous, temporary quarters was about a third of this size. I also love that our box sits on a 3/4-acre lot that is surrounded by woods and rolling pastures, with a view through the trees and over the fence of the Appalachian mountains.

I love that when I sit on the back steps in the morning, I experience the world awakening in a whole new way. I hear roosters crowing, turkeys gobbling, birds chirping in their raspy morning voices. I feel the wind on my cheeks, ruffling hair that escaped from my warm, winter hood, see leaves skitter across the lawn, watch the young pines sway. On clear days, I get to see the sun rise.

I love that we have a garden plot, all ready to be planted, and that soon Randy will be tilling the ground. That this weekend we will drive to Ellijay for blueberry bushes and fruit trees. And that we'll no longer be throwing kitchen waste in a landfill, but be mulching it in our garden. I love that this summer we'll be enjoying and sharing pesticide-free, homegrown tomatoes and beans and cucumbers and squashes, broccoli and carrots, and more of our tenderly-grown bounty.

I love the quiet sense of nature that abounds outside the walls of our home, our tin box in the country. I love knowing that as the seasons unfold, I will experience these surroundings in ever deepening levels of profound. And, I love that the quietness seeps inside the walls of our box, quieting our minds and filling our hearts.

When viewed in this lovely light, the quandary fades. It doesn't matter. It is, after all, just a box. A cultural box, a pigeonhole, with no real meaning, like so many of the other ones. These boxes were created by someone else, to consider, as Financial Times Lexicon says, a person, activity, etc, as belonging to a particular type or group, in a way that is too simple and therefore, unfair.

I am not 'trailer trash', never have been. And living in a trailer doesn't make me so, nor does it make me less.

Boxes are hurtful, to those who create them, as well as to those who must live in them. We all have value, no matter who we are, where we live, how we look or act, and what we do in society.

What kind of box are you living in? Not at home, but in your mind? If you think about it for a while, you will most likely come up with more than one.

Me? I live in a doctor box, a daughter box, a partner box, just to name a few. In my mind, these all have 'meanings' and, when I don't live up to what I see in my mind's eye, I'm the one who suffers.

So, today, for now, let's all step out of our boxes. And just be okay with where we are.

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