Possum Holler and Pig Trails

 

I grew up just south of Possum Holler on an unnamed dirt road that ran west before paralleling the Catawba River north toward the Sugar Creek…well, I guess the dirt road had a name after all.  The River Road…the problem was there were many unnamed river roads in the area and its name has nothing to do with the pig trails my brain is taking me down.  Or does it?

I saw a request for historical information as to how Possum Holler Road might have gotten its name.  You reckin’ cuz there might have been a few “possums in that there holler”…that’s the way folks said it back then.  Not hollow but holler…and the same folks pronounced yellow…yeller.  I’m not making fun of anyone who changes their w’s to r’s.  I’ve been known to revert when I get a few shots of brown liquor in my gullet.  I tend to drop my gs too.  But it’s not about the way people talk.

It’s about places like Possum Holler, or Frog Level or my absolute favorites, Sugar Tit and Happy Bottom…and hundreds or thousands of others.  Mostly small places, some nothing more than wide places in the road.  I’ve always enjoyed places with the “Now Entering So and So” and the “Now Leaving So and So” sign on the same post.

It’s about discovery.  Discoveries you must get off the interstate to see.  Pig trails leading to crossroads where you flip a coin to decide which direction to turn and end up in a place you didn’t know you would miss if you hadn’t found it.  Pig trails you purposely get lost on.  “Which way do you think?”  “I don’t know…turn left?”  Can one be lost if one doesn’t care where one is going?

Some of the pig trails have names like the Natchez Trace, the Woodpecker Trail…or Scenic Highway 11, the pig trail I live on.  Even those have become too crowded…like the Possum Holler of my youth.  One must get off those well-traveled roads.  One must take a chance; you can’t get lost if you don’t know where you are going and have a full tank of gas.

Back in the day, when my bride and I ransomed our monetary souls for our little piece of heaven…our monetary souls are still ransomed, our car and the myriads of pig trails and wide places populating our realm became an outlet.  Instead of a knightly steed, we explored our domain in an ’87 Thunderbird to the tune of two hundred and sixteen thousand miles.

When we were really brave we took my old Toyota Landcruiser up over Glassy and Chestnut Mountains before the rich developers closed them off to the serfs and peons.  Golfers in Mercedes replaced the rednecks in four-wheel drives.

Still, we stranded ourselves on more than one occasion.  Being stranded ain’t too bad when you are crazy in love and have friends who will come and yank you back upright.

When we visited family or friends in far off places, we made sure we got off the interstate. We would pour over road atlases looking for pig trails leading through interesting places.  We spent the night in a long-dead Mississippi River boat captains’ home near Shiloh Church, ate dinner in a haunted restaurant in Natchez Under the Hill, made love in an Antebellum mansion in Vicksburg, and stopped to read every historical marker we saw.  Too much information?

We visited a baseball coach’s nirvana, Rosenblatt in Omaha during the most wonderful time of the year, The College World Series.  But we got off the interstate.

We drove from New Orleans to Pensacola off the interstate, stopping at all the little coastal towns.  Took forever…it was wonderful.  We even had to argue with our GPS in the delta when it said our destination was a mile straight ahead despite the Mississippi River saying otherwise.

After the Thunderbird came a Mustang convertible and our road trips became even more fun.  Even Sugar Tit looks different when the top is down and the wind is blowing through your hair.

We’ve gotten out of the habit…no we’ve gotten lazy.  Sometimes life gets in the way, other times you use it as an excuse.  We’ve become old and boring.  We make excuses not to pack a lunch and the puppies into the car and head out to Coosawatchie, or Hell’s Half Acre which is right next to Happy Bottom.

They all exist right here in South Carolina although those might be too far away for the puppies. See?  Excuses.  We should load them and drive up to Rocky Bottom, it’s close by…that’s right we must drive UP to get DOWN to Rocky Bottom.

We have to do better.  We’re not getting any younger and someone said time slows for no one.  I don’t know where this week has gone so that someone must be correct.

Time to find a pig trail heading to Tuxedo and maybe on to Climax.  They’re in close by North Carolina.  Possum Holler is too populated these days…and not with possums.

For those of you in the area, Possum Holler should not be confused with the Possum Kingdom.  They are not the same except for being humorously named.

The image came from Possum Holler Road located in Indian Land, South Carolina in Lancaster County.  I guess Indian Land is another interesting name.

Apologies to those who stopped to read thinking this was about possums or pigs.

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found AND LIKED at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

 

 

A Life Well Juggled

“If you’re trying to change someone you love, you don’t love them. It’s the oddnesses, the most unique imperfections that you’d miss the most. That’s the stuff you can’t replace. Everything else is easy to come by.”
Crystal Woods

A family visitation, a funeral, a granddaughter’s graduation from pre-school and a ninetieth birthday party for my wife’s stepmother’s sister, all in the space of twenty-four hours.  My wife is up to her chin in all of them it seems…at least in her own mind.  She seems happiest when up to her chin in alligators while juggling the flaming batons of life.  She is happy a lot.

She is the wild mustang unencumbered by a bridle or rider, mane blowing in the wind as she runs hither and yon. Life, for me, is easier when she can run amok like a chicken with her head cut off. After nearly thirty-two years I realize, “She ain’t gonna change” and now I’m not sure I want her to.

She juggles OUR lives, flaming torches or razor-sharp knives be damned. She reminds me of a Lucille Ball skit, having to stuff chocolate into her mouth or blouse. Lucy and Ethyl just trying to keep up with a conveyor belt full of chocolate…hers is the conveyor belt of life.

I see her as the tuxedo-clad dandy spinning plates on sticks on the old Ed Sullivan Show. Running from pole to pole as the plates begin to slow and wobble, spinning them faster, attempting to keep them from falling off.

When all is done, she never quite loses a plate and all the chocolates are lined up neatly in boxes instead of her bra. Life can be difficult and sometimes she gets nicked or burned as she juggles but never enough for her to quit.

She said, “I’m not getting involved in this party! No way, no how!  She has sons, let them….” Translation: “She’s up to her chin alligator poop.” And by association, so am I.

Our home and yard may be wrecks but somehow, we have time to take over the party preparations because “It needs to be done right.”  That might translate into, “It needs to be done my way.” 

In between the funeral and graduation, she runs around arranging tables and chairs…again and again, and, again.  She agrees to pick up ice cream and a cake. She has plenty of time after all. 

Creating flower arrangements, she purchased plants a month ago…and two weeks ago…and yesterday.  Standing back with her head cocked to the side, deciding if it is perfect enough or does putting in a bit of greenery make it more perfect.  If one New Guinea impatient will work, a dozen will be a dozen times more perfect. Two dozen?

It is eight a. m. before the party at three.  She’s headed out to do her magic.  What is magic is how she got all of those plants, containers and pink tissue into one vehicle the size of a Jeep instead of a transfer truck.  Sorcery?

I’m left to care for the puppies, who don’t need my care.  In their youth, they feared thunderstorms and we are getting our gracious plenty.  They are so terrified, they are sacked out around my feet.  One lying on her back, the other curled up with a paw across its nose.  Really terrified.

Still, her orders, “Take care of my puppies.  Give them some love.”  They are the puppies we weren’t going to bring home fourteen years ago, “We’re not getting one, we are just going to look.” She was correct, we didn’t get one…we got two. They are blind and old now. They only have a mind’s eye for their mommy.

It’s a ploy I’ve seen through for years.  She just wants to do the preparations herself. It is just her “thing” and I’m not about to change her “thing”. Telling me to care for the puppies while she is gone is just her way of keeping me involved…without involving me.

In her mind, she is still twenty-five…and in my mind too I guess. She’s not twenty-five but that doesn’t stop her from running from hot spot to hot spot, putting out fires that need to be put out. Sometimes starting wildfires, sometimes adding gasoline, sometimes supplying a match before figuring out how to put out the fire she started.

The thoughts of her running about like “the roof ain’t nailed on tight” causes me to smile.

I wonder how a body as small as hers accommodates such a huge heart. A heart intent on doing good deeds.  A heart blind enough to say “Yes” to a two-time loser when I asked her to marry me.

I’m thankful for all her quirks and downright insanities…if we can just get through the next few hours.

The quote came from Write Like Nobody Is Reading by Crystal Woods.

The image is from https://www.scarlettentertainment.com/page/uk-fire-jugglers

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Thanks for taking the time to read.

THE DAY I DIDN’T MEET GEORGE H. W. BUSH

 

I walked in the rain this morning thinking of George H.W. Bush’s death.  My earbuds provided a backdrop I was paying no attention to…until Bob Dylan’s nasal slur entered my ears…” The times they are ah changin’.”  My thought was, “The times they have ended.”

Men like President Bush are dying out and it seems there is no one willing to replace them.  Men who put character and the collective good above personal interest or gain.  A man who believed in compromise rather than partisanship.  Right or wrong.  A man whose legacy was only punctuated by his presidency, a presidency that did not define the man himself.  A man who honorably served his country for over seven decades.  Keyword, “honorably.”  I sure he had his failings but then so do I.

I know, he was a Texas oilman whose family is worth millions and who lived a life of privilege.  Somehow, he, like a certain peanut farmer, managed to rise above their privilege.  They both gave…or give back.  Bush Forty-One and Carter are the last…and maybe the best of their generation of politicians; those who believed service and honor were the most important legacies of man.  They are what politicians should aspire to be and unfortunately don’t.  Their greatest legacies may have occurred after their presidencies.

I almost met then Vice President Bush on a hot summer day as he campaigned in Greenville, South Carolina in the middle-late 1980s.  Almost but not quite.  It is a story I’ve told before but as I walked this morning, it brought a smile to my rain-streaked face and once again muted the music in my ears.

It was a bright late July or early August morning and I drove a tractor pulling gang reels to Sirrine Stadium.  In the Eighties, coaches didn’t have crews paid to keep up a field.  Coaching staffs were the crew.  This day I was my own crew, a crew of one.  Head Coach and Athletic Director or not, this was my day to cut.  Late July is prime grass growing season in upper South Carolina, requiring plenty of water and fertilizer…and cutting.  Lots of cutting as in three days a week.

Hot and humid, wavy heat thermals rose off the black asphalt into a cloudless, silver-blue sky and the milky yellow orb heating it.  As I drove our old tractor to the game field, I imagine my thoughts were on a young woman I was dating…one who became my bride for the past thirty-one years.  My thoughts certainly weren’t on the two men who stopped me at the entry gate.

I didn’t see them at first.  As I stepped off the tractor to unlock the gate, I dropped my keys.  As I stood, they seemed to materialize with the thermals radiating from the tarmac leading to the field.  Two fine specimens of American manhood.  Was I smelling melting asphalt or testosterone?

Despite the ninety plus temperatures and humidity, they dressed in dark suits, white shirts, dark ties, and dark wraparound sunglasses.  Shined black shoes reflected the sun back into my face.  Think Men in Black, except much better looking.

A blond man with a high and tight haircut played Tommy Lee Jones with a youthful and smooth complexion.  Long and lanky, I expected a Texas accent and got it.  His Will Smith counterpart was shorter but made up for it in wideness.  Both had muscles straining the fabric of their suits.  I wondered why they weren’t sweating in the oppressive sun.

“Uh…can I help you?” I stammered.

Tommy Lee didn’t smile but asked, “Who are you?”

“I asked first,” trying to assume a casual air while leaning against the rear tractor wheel.

Tommy Lee pulled his coat aside and displayed a gold and blue shield held in a pocket holder and a black holster on his hip.  Squinting in the glare I saw “US Secret Service” arched across the top and “Special Agent” arched across the bottom.  “Okay, you have my attention.”

“I’m the athletic director at Greenville High School and I’m here to cut the grass.”

“Not today.  This stadium is off limits.  Your principal was supposed to alert you.”  “Yeah, and my principal hates me and would like to see me shot.”

“May I ask why?”

Agent Tommy Lee glanced at Agent Will and simply shook his head.

It turns out Vice President Bush, a jogger, had scheduled a jog and my principal had failed to tell me.

During those days I was not a jogger and pretty much apolitical.  I had a football team to field, grass to cut and a pretty brunette to worry about.  With no more fields or teams to maintain, I became a jogger and more political, especially in the modern political climate.  The pretty brunette said, “I do” and we still are.  One era ends, another continues.

I don’t know if Forty-One actually jogged that hot day in July or not.  I like to think he did and that we traveled over the same ground, he jogging, me driving a tractor in circles, clipping the grass he ran over.  “I cut the grass George HW Bush ran on….”  Do I get a certificate?

I like to think that if there is an afterlife, and I believe there is, he has been reunited with the love of his life, his Barbara.  I’d like to think they are laughing together…maybe ridiculing the present forms of politicians while trying to look out us all from their “thousand points of light.”

Maybe, if I’m lucky enough, I’ll join him someday for a jog.  I wish I could have heard his Texas drawl in person.  Maybe I still can.   Maybe I’ll grow up to be just like him.  Rest in Peace George HW Bush.  I know you weren’t perfect but you were someone to be admired and emulated.  Other politicians…and humans, should take a lesson.

For more of Don Miller’s musings click on the following link,  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM.

 

Calliope of Lights

I awoke from a deep sleep, my bladder bursting, hustling me out of my warm and comfortable bed.  It was three hours ’til dawn but deep down I knew my sleep was over for the night.

I tried to write but my block stopped me cold, a book to read maybe?  Some real writer to motivate me.  The words on James Lee Burke’s pages didn’t seem to catch my interest.  I knew it wasn’t Burke…it was me.

With Dish’s Top 250 how can you find nothing to pique your interest on TV?  It wasn’t Dish…or Netflix and Amazon Prime…it was me…and the infomercials about “CrepErase.”  Anyone remember “Psychic Friends?”

I was up and antsy staring at the darkness from my French doors.  There was still two hours before the break of dawn.  My bride was still asleep, her puppies protecting her, blocking anyone’s path to the bed.  I sure did not want to wake her, stumbling into something in the dark.

I decided to do what I had done during the years I was a contributing member of society…the days before I retired.  When I taught, I ran or walked in the darkness before school, from five until six-thirty every morning.  I don’t run any longer thanks to arthritic knees, but I do walk, and it seemed “there is no time like the present.”

The light from my headlamp reflected back into my eyes as the mist swirled, the road as dead and silent as the inside of a coffin.  I shuttered a bit as goosebumps chased each other over my body.  The mist was closing in on me and quite eery.  As my pathway rose to the ridge and highway above, the mist seemed to clear allowing me to observe a light show I had somehow forgotten.

Droplets of dew hung from the greenery lining the sides of the road and showed all the colors of the rainbow as I walked past illuminating them.  Each little droplet acted as its own prism.  Tiny stars twinkling red, green, yellow and a pale blue.  It was as if Christmas had come early along with a birthday celebration.

An orb spider had strung her web across my path and it appeared festooned with diamonds.  The large arachnid sat in the middle of her glittering domain, choosing to sit on her tiara rather than wear it.   I ducked to keep from disturbing the web and Miss Spider.

A leopard frog froze in the beam of my light reminding me of a previous predawn walk at the lake at Lookup.  Dozens of frogs lined up on the lake path, facing the lake in hopes breakfast would fly by.  Their yellow-orange eyes glowing in the beam of my spotlight along with their black, green and yellow patterns.

There were other glints of light, some that moved.  I looked closely at a limb and the greenish mote of light reflecting from it…an insect of some type, tiny with pale white legs and a greenish exoskeleton.  I had moved too close to see the twinkle and backed away to make sure it was real and still there.

I reminded myself of a walk on a moonless, predawn hike during my former life.  As the light on my head bounced from side to side I saw an unfamiliar, heart-shaped flower reflecting in the distance.  Reflecting white in the grass, the “flower” was heart-shaped and looked as if there were two stamens instead of one.  As I moved closer to examine it, the flower moved and the stamens blazed orange-red back at me.  It was the tiny face of a very young possum.  It looked at me with no fear or maybe it was simply blinded by the light.  I briefly worried about its mother until I heard a rustling in the dry leaves beyond the grass.  Mom was still close by, her own eyes blazing in my lamp, and I decided I would make sure I wasn’t close by.

There was a type of harmony to the lights.  So different, yet fitting together like a symphony…a symphony of light rather than sound.  Calliope was the Greek muse presiding over poetry and eloquence, known for her harmonious voice.  I am neither poetic or eloquent and my singing voice is certainly not harmonious.  I hope Calliope doesn’t mind me thinking of her as I think of my own calliope of light.

I will pay for my early morning later in the day, but the price of admission was worth it.  I believe I might do it again tomorrow…maybe I’ll just change my schedule to accommodate more of them.

Don Miller writes on a variety of subjects.  To visit his author’s page go to https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image is from http://alistairduncan.co.uk/portfolio/possibility

Waiting for Indian Summer

 

We are four days past the end of the “Dog Days” of summer…the calendar lies!  The “Dog Days” are the hot, humid, sultry, thunderstorm ridden days following the rise of Sirius the Dog Star.  I didn’t tell my puppy dogs the Dog Days were over, they would have thought I was lying.

In the foothills of the Blue Ridge it appears thirty-degree temperature swings with a good chance on thunderstorms by the middle of the week. Oh my! Bless your heart Mother Nature.  The arrow grass is a little worse from wear.

We had a small dose of fall like weather last week which makes this blast of heat and humidity hard to handle.  We are a month, minus four days, from the first day of fall…if we actually have a fall this year.  I really don’t want to wish my life away, but….  Later, after our first frost, there will be Indian Summer.

There was still a hint of fall this morning as I walked my three point two miles.  Sixty-eight degrees and a very light breeze originating from the north as I walked around Lookup Lake.  No leaves are changing, we are six weeks or so away from the start of that.  The temperature had risen quickly by the time I returned.  The yucca didn’t seem to mind the heat.

Despite the heat, butterflies were working “like crazy” on the yellow, gold or purple wild flowers marking my path.  A sure sign they know their time is limited.  Bees and small wasps seemed to be in frantic mode working on my woody hydrangea.  And those damn little bastard yellow jackets…one got me on the inside of my thigh.  Nothing on the wild daisy?

My path was blocked by spider webs as I made my way around the lake.  Sorry Mr. Orb Spider, I just wasn’t paying attention.  You’ve caught me, but I don’t think I’ll let you eat me.  I know you will build another web, you do so daily, but I hate to make your work harder.  I didn’t appreciate your webs until I found out you ate mosquitoes.

There are other colors too, reds, purples and whites.  Wild plants I’m unfamiliar with and the sickly-sweet smell of purple and white kudzu blooms.  It seems nothing can deter kudzu, not even the web worms covering one group of blooms.

I have no red tomatoes or yellow corn; my vegetables are done for the season.  I did notice my muscadine grapes were turning from green to bronze.  Soon they will turn a dull purple and it will be time for muscadine hull pie.  Yum!

Such is life.  Change is inevitable.  I am aware of life’s changes every time I glance in a mirror or stiffly crawl out of bed.  Like the changes in season I hope to make it to Indian Summer myself.

Image of the Coot, and all other images were taken by an “Old Coot” using his Android phone.  I’m sure you thought I was a professional…chortle, chortle.

More of Don Miller’s musings can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The Toad in the Corner

 

I am bad.  I continue to smoke my one cigar a day…unless it turns into two…never more than two.  I just executed a mental eye roll.  Normally I sit under the massive tulip poplar in my backyard and enjoy an adult beverage while I feed my addiction.  Do I enjoy the cigar due to my addiction or because of the joy it brings me? That is a discussion for a later date.

It’s been hot and humid, and I’ve taken to sitting on my back stoop instead of taking the long, sweaty twenty-five-yard walk to the tree and the chair sitting under it.  My picture should go beside the definition of lazy in the latest dictionary.  It is more about the mosquitoes infesting the shrubbery around my normal imbibing location.  There doesn’t seem to be as many bloodsuckers at my stoop and I may know one of the reasons why.

I sat watching the smoke curl from the smoldering end of my stogie, contemplating nothing more than my navel when I saw her.  In the corner where the rock wall and foundation meet, where the leaves have built up due to my earlier admission of laziness, a large toad had backed herself into the corner and is also watching the smoke curl from the cigar.

She is an American Toad…I think.  Could be a Fowler’s but I am not an authority on amphibians…and don’t want to be but I am better versed in toad activities than I once was.  Thank you, Google.  Despite my research, I don’t even know if she is really a she but shes are usually larger than hes and she is one of the largest toads I’ve seen.

Toady has been in the corner for weeks now.  She sits patiently waiting for the darkness and the relative cool of the evening.  I see her often sitting under the flood light, bathing in its glow or waiting for a juicy morsel to fly by?

I check on her often…not just when I feed my addiction.  I don’t know why I check.  I guess to reassure myself that all is right in the world.  I have seen her around for years…maybe it was her, all American toads seem to look alike.  Well, she was still there five minutes ago at least.  Looking fat and sassy from a night of eating mosquitoes I hope.

I’ve not named her because I worry Herbert the Rat Snake and his kin are skulking around waiting for a meal.  As I understand it, from the extensive research on toads I tried to reframe from doing.  I probably could name her.   Seems she is not too tasty…does Mr. No Shoulders have taste buds or does Toady just give him gas?  More research to come and maybe I have named her.

For more musings go to https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B018IT38GM?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

If you are interested in sexy, romantic adventure, Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson can be found at https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B07B6BDD19?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

LIFE, BASEBALL, AND A TRANSISTOR RADIO

 

There was once a young boy who went to sleep listening to his small transistor radio.  The circular dial on its front was more than a tuner, it was the young boy’s window to a far away world…the destination depending upon atmospheric conditions.

AM radio, Amplitude Modulation,  is still iffy in perfect conditions and FM, Frequency Modulation, was the new-fangled, next big thing of the early Sixties.  AM radio stations blasting rock and roll so clearly during the daylight hours became impossible to pick up due to changes in the ionosphere or went off the air entirely.

Magically it seemed to the young boy,  AM transmitters bounced their signal off the charged layer of the atmosphere.  Honestly, the old man who replaced the young boy still believes it is magic.  The young boy knew none of the science, he just knew night time brought in far off places and in the summer, brought him baseball games played late into the night.

Just last night I was reminded of the young boy, now wrinkled and gray.  As I drove home in the early evening, my satellite radio brought in a far off, crystal-clear signal from somewhere on the left coast.  Not the crackling, fading in or out signal from his childhood.

The little transistor radio brought him games played by  “Mr. Sunshine”, Ernie Banks of the Cubbies or “The Killer”, Harmon Killebrew of the Twins…depending upon atmospheric condition.  Sometimes it brought games from southern climes with sportscasters speaking in an excited, rapid-fire language the young boy did not understand.  On very special nights, the atmospheric gods brought him the Detroit Tigers and their star outfielder Al Kaline.  I remember the young boy struggling to stay awake long enough to hear the last out recorded.

This was a time when baseball was the American Pastime…before the breakneck speed of our lives, the internet, iPhones, and interactive video games made baseball seem too slow.  This was a time when we built up our athletic idols instead of finding ways to tear them down.  A time before the designated hitter and performance-enhancing drugs.  It was an era when bases were bags and sandlots and playgrounds were filled with youth dreaming of being the next “Mick” or “Sandy” or “The Say Hey Kid.”  It was a time before life got in the way.

I listened to a broadcaster whose voice I didn’t recognize, announcing players I did not know, playing for a team that didn’t exist when the young boy listened to his transistor radio.  For a moment I was sad until I remembered the young boy.  The young boy grew up to play the game he loved and later coached it for a goodly part of his life.

Baseball may no longer be the American Pastime, but it still mimics life.  Life involves so much failure and successful people find ways to rise above their missteps.  Baseball is the same, a game built on failure.  A great hitter fails seventy percent of the time.  A hitter may do everything right and still get robbed, his line drive somehow finding a glove.  A pitcher may make the perfect pitch that ends with a “fourteen hopper” somehow finding its way through a drawn-in infield.  Baseball gives, and it takes away…just like life.

For more wit and witticisms from Don Miller  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Image of Ernie Banks from CBS News

Spring….

 

Spring is finally here in the Foothills of the Blue Ridge.  A high of seventy-one today if the weather liars are to be believed…and a high of forty-eight tomorrow.  Thunderstorms with copious lightning and rainfall moved through the area on the last night of winter.  Three to five inches of snow is expected in the mountains above us on the first night of Spring.  Come on Mother Nature…I have a therapist I can suggest who might help you with your dysfunction.

I awoke this morning with a tremendous pressure…on my bladder.  Five a.m. and like every morning I had to go drain the lizard.  I stepped out my back door…I live in the country, if I want to relieve myself out my backdoor it’s okay and I am conserving water.

The light from my hallway displayed scraps of fog, torn and driven by the light morning breeze.  It had been almost tropical the night before, before the storms.  This morning it was just a pea soup fog being rendered by the wind.  The fog was ghostly as it slid by in the reflected light.  The specter didn’t scare me, nor did it scare the big doe staring at me from across the fence.  I must not have been too terrifying either as I hosed the ground between us.

She stood facing me as if thinking, “Son…please cover yourself.”  Slowly I did, and she still didn’t move.  “No, not very impressed, are we?”  She just stood there showing me those beautiful brown eyes and “big ole ears” standing at attention.  She was as beautiful as anything I had seen since first seeing my granddaughter.

I decided to take a step toward her and she held her ground.  She let me move within a yard before her tail stood up and she leaped into the darkness.  A deer’s tail disappearing into the darkness may be one of the most delightful sights I’ve ever seen.  How in the world can you shoot one of these animals for sport?

I walk, daily, for exercise since my knees and feet have worn out.  As soon as it was light enough I went out for my five-mile commune with nature.  There she was again, this time across the road on my walking path.  Again, she stood as if to say, “What took you so long, come on, just follow me.”  I did.  I followed her beautiful tail until it disappeared.

The doe started me thinking about Native American “spirit guides.”  I know I run a chance of being called “Pocahontas” or rather “Walking Bear” by our Name Caller in Chief, but according to family lore, Native Americans blood courses in my veins…no, I haven’t had a DNA test, but Pocahontas may be a distant relative.  My thoughts caused me to wonder.  If I rate a “spirit guide,” I think I want it to be that doe.  Somehow, we seemed to connect.  We’ll see if she returns and if she does, where she might lead me.

Happy Spring Days and Nights.

Image from https://tsfphotoscartoons.com/2016/06/07/woods-in-the-fog/

Please stop by and visit Don Miller’s writer’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM  or his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cigarman501/

Birds of a Feather?

Normally I don’t use the word blessing when talking about this time of year, but this Saturday was one of those wondrous days we occasionally have in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. Warm and bright for a late January day. Warm and bright enough to melt the left-over snow and ice from a few days ago…I hope. The sky a brilliant blue and there is not a cloud in the sky. A great day for a walk…or a great day to sit in the backyard with a Blue Moon and a Dutch Master contemplating nothing of any importance. I did both instead of gathering up and disposing of the winter yard waste from the wildlife refuge that is my backyard. My wife is out visiting…hopefully, she won’t notice that I have done nothing except deal with my own mental self-health.

I’m watching my birds now. I can claim them as my own…I feed them, and they live close by. They love the black sunflower seed I dutifully put in my bird feeders and are flitting hither and yon. The squirrels and chipmunks like it too…and I don’t care. Redbirds, titmice, chickadees, wrens and my favorite, the little upside-down birds, the nuthatch and downy woodpeckers all visit, eat their fill and fly off to who knows where. There is a redhead woodpecker and a pileated woodpecker that visits occasionally. The pileated woodpecker seems to laugh at me with its distinctive and goofy call.

Underneath the feeders, I see robins, their red chests lying about the nearness of spring. They are joined by brown thrashers, mourning doves and an occasional tanager. The cooing sounds made by the doves are somewhat forlorn but not so forlorn it ruins my bright mood. I’m also sure the tanager will tell his friends.

Occasionally I see an indigo bunting or a bluebird, the reflected sun flashing blue off its tiny body as it zips through my yard. For the life of me, I can’t entice them to stay. I see them on the fence looking in at the free-for-all at the feeders. Are they resting or trying to make up their minds about the food I am offering? They seem to prefer the open, flat area around my garden. Oh well.

It won’t be long until the feeders draw the gold and purple finches. I’ll start adding thistle to the feeding area when I see my first one. I thought I saw a male goldfinch this morning except for the red topnotch. Turns out it is a refugee from more northern climes called a redpoll. I guess he was lost or just looking for warmer temperatures.

With the spring, if it ever gets here, there will be others making their presence known. The whistle of “my” redtail hawks, the clucking of turkeys, the lonesome calls of the whippoorwills along with owls hooting from the hillsides behind my house. Even with the hum of mosquitoes, I can’t wait.

My grandmother was a lover of birds, watching the feeder as she made biscuits in her kitchen or listening to their calls while working in the field. Telling her oldest grandson that we were hearing a mockingbird or a catbird. She loved them, filling up spiral bound notebooks with descriptions, buying stamps with images of birds and painting pictures of the birds that populated her environment. It has taken me to my autumn years to appreciate the birds that populate my environment. One more connection I have with my grandmother I guess.

I don’t reckon my birds are very concerned about government shutdowns, Dreamers or border security. A wall is probably not going to keep them out…the birds I mean. I think I’ll try to be more like my birds. If it’s not a sweet sound, I’m probably not going to make it or allow myself to hear it.

Don Miller is a multi-genre writer who has written two fictional novels and four books of non-fiction. If you are interested in further readings, please access his writer’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The picture of the pileated woodpecker came from the National Wildlife Federation at https://www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Food/Supplemental-Feeders. It was taken by Beau Liddell.

Stumble, Fumble….

I despise the New Year. My birth year ends in a zero so it’s easy to figure out your age and realize the path behind you is significantly longer than the path ahead. I’m not concerned about my age…well…maybe I am since I’m posting about it. Okay, I’m not concerned about my death…unless it is lingering and painful. Okay, okay! So, I’m concerned.

I despise the New Year because of the resolutions I make that I know I’m going to break or stumble over…” stumble, bumble, fart, and fall….” Odd things that stick in your head. It’s the fourth and I’m already stumbling…and I’m always smelly.

I made simple resolutions. Easy to accomplish even if a few roadblocks arise. Maintain or, notice the “or”, improve my fitness. Maintain my 2016 weight which I was unable to maintain in 2017. That means losing the ten pounds from last year that I picked up when I was supposed to be maintaining. Just walk a little more…we got this.

I wish I had told my wife. Obviously, her New Year’s resolution is to cook this year. The veggie and beef homemade soup, following the traditional greens, peas and pork roast on New Year’s Day. Would have been healthy…maybe…but she had to make cornbread. I love her cornbread…did I have to have the second piece? Yes, I did…and the third. I just forgot about her tomato pie…oh my.

Well, I expect her to break her resolution soon, “I’m not cooking anymore this year!”

“But….”

“But nothing!”

My second resolution was also a simple, easy to accomplish, I want to be a better person and make a difference. You know, better for the wife, daughter, grandkids, asshole brother…sorry, non-asshole brother. Not best…just better.

My beloved has thrown a roadblock in front of that too. Thirty-one years together and I still find a way to not be able to get out of my own way.

“I need for you to…” fill in the blank.

A “better person” would simply go do it. A “better person” would not wait until he forgot what she asked him to do in the first place. A “better person” wouldn’t want to hear, “I asked you six months ago to…” fill in the blank. So, with a hand driver, I jumped on it! Bam!

“What are you doing?”

“You asked me to….”

“I didn’t mean now. You are in my way. Go do something else.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Don’t ask me questions now, can’t you see I’m busy?”

A “better person” won’t use the hand driver as a weapon. Great, resolution accomplished! Maybe this isn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

For more of Don Miller’s musings, try the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM