“It’s been raining for ten whole days!” Daddy says when he gets home and comes in the front door.
Nancy runs to meet Daddy. She’s been running around in the house saying, "No!” about everything like she always does. Mommy and Daddy call her “Negative Nancy” because she’s always saying no.
Mommy is going to have another baby, so she’s tired and we’re supposed to be good. We live in Wheaton, Illinois, now. I’m in Mrs. Lane’s third grade class, but I’m not going to school because it’s spring vacation. And it’s raining.
“I guess I can’t work on the yard today!” Daddy says.
Our new house has a big picture window in the living-room. I look out and try to see our front yard, but it looks like Girl Lake. That’s the lake at Grandma and Grandpa Wallace’s cottage.
This lake covers our driveway and Kenny Kemp’s front yard, too. Kenny lives next door. He’s only in second grade. The rain just keeps falling and making circles on the lake outside.
I can’t go outside in the rain except if I put on my raincoat and rubber boots.
We have a stoop outside the back door. I go to the back door that’s in the laundry room next to the kitchen, and I look out the storm door window. All around our back yard, I can see the fence Daddy made out of posts, and boards that he painted white, and the red fences people put out in their fields to stops snow drifts. (Mommy told me that’s what those fences usually are for.)
I remember the dump truck that poured black dirt in our back yard in the summer before I went to third grade. Daddy shoveled that dirt all over in our back yard and made it all smooth and level. He put little wood stakes at the corners and tied string between them to make sure. And then for a long time we couldn’t walk where he planted the grass seed. He watered it with a sprinkler until it got real green and thick.
Now our grass and sandbox and swings and the apple tree Daddy planted are all wet, but they’re not very shiny because it’s still cloudy out.
I can’t see Kenny Kemp’s grass because his back yard looks like it’s a lake, too. On the other side of our back yard, at Ethel and Bill’s, it looks like the Maumee River near where Grandma Griffin lives. (Grandma Griffin is Mommy’s mother.) Marge and Jim’s yard behind ours looks like a lake, too.
Kenny Kemp’s daddy and Jim and Bill don’t have fences around their yards. And I don’t think they put more dirt in their yards to make them level or planted new grass. My daddy did, and that made our yard into a big island.
I’m glad. We don’t know when it is going to stop raining.
Morality and Politics? by Victor Kulkosky, Editor of the Fort Valley Leader Tribune
[This is not my own blog post, but with his permission, I am posting Victor's editorial to make it easier to share. --Anna]
Morality and Politics?
Last week's Virtual Town Hall, hosted by Peach County Concerned Citizens, is the kind of event that's hard for reporters to write up. A bunch of people talk about a bunch of different topics; simply transcribing would take up the entire paper, so we're left trying to boil the whole thing down to a few quotable moments. A couple of comments stuck out to me, which were not in response to the same question, but I connected.
U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop laid bare the essence of politics. In so many words, politics is about who gets what, when, where and how. That's definitely true: whatever principles we use to cloak the debate, a lot of politics involves distributing resources, local, state, federal – even global. For most of history, the people had no say in the distribution: kings, queens and a select few “noble” people got most of the resources and the rest of us got the scraps. Then along came republican (with a lower-case r) government, in which the people elect representatives to manage the resource distribution on our behalf. The rich still get theirs, but they're supposed to share the booty.
But what principles guide this distribution of resources? The process can became a cynical game, in which the who gets what, when, where and how depends on who's good at the game – who knows whom, who has the biggest bag of tricks, who already has resources that give them a leg up.
In response to a question about how to reduce the divisiveness, Byron Mayor Michael Chidester also reduced the answer to the basics. The solution to the current polarization, Chidester said, is more in the hands of people such as Peach County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lionel Brown, rather than politicians, that is, on educators.
“If people are given a good moral foundation and educated on the founding principles of this nation,” then we would be less divided, Chidester suggested. That moral foundation should include, I believe, looking beyond naked self interest toward the greater good, so that my pursuit of happiness doesn't block you from pursuing happiness as you see it. This is the antidote to belief of those “realists,” who declare: “Like it or not, politics is a dirty game, but if you don't play the game, you get nothing,” sometimes followed by a bit of self-defense: “I didn't make the rules, I just play the game.”
But who makes the rules, if not We The People? The “rules” include the “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The rules our first representatives chose to set in writing, in the interest of “a more perfect union” include separation of powers. Congress, an assembly of elected representatives, makes the laws; the President takes care the laws are “faithfully executed” and the judiciary keeps an eye on whether Congress and President play by the rules. If that doesn't quite sound like the current state of affairs, then perhaps that education on morals and founding principles to which Mayor Chidester referred needs an overhaul.
While we remember Congress does not establish religion or interfere with its free exercise, we also have assurance that God is on our side. A Bahá'í prayer declares: “I beseech Thee, by Thy divine grace and surpassing bounty, to aid this just government, the canopy of whose authority is spread over vast and mighty lands and the evidences of whose justice are apparent in its prosperous and flourishing regions.” Idealistic, yes, and definitely not cynical. Those prosperous and flourishing regions got that way through that resource distribution process described above, based, when practiced correctly, on a moral foundation and founding principles, a practice that's always perfectible.
Simple, really, but not easy. We have the choice to live up to the high standards of justice leading to more prosperity and more flourishing regions. There is no set limit to the size of the pie, and therefore no need for cynical approaches to who gets what, no need for checks returned marked “insufficient funds.” We already have (or should have) the moral foundation, and we've had the founding principles for over 200 years, To the extent we've had justice, prosperity and flourishing regions, it's because we remembered the lessons. To the extent we've degenerated into competing tribes playing the cynical game, it's because we forget the lessons.
So, thanks, Rep. Bishop and Mayor Chidester, for spelling it out. Let's go back to school.
To me, there’s no question that we need to be strong at this time. We have to gird our loins, so to speak, and prepare for a difficult economy, more sickness, horrible election politics, and, possibly, developments that we do not like occurring in our government.
During this time, we must help others as much as we can, especially in our own realms and our own communities. I’m donating almost daily to my church’s Little Free Pantry and encouraging others to do so. If I see cases where I believe in the organization and its power to directly assist others, I’ll donate. I’m open to doing more.
Today, however, I’m thinking about a side effect of the pandemic that is not entirely related to economics or health. I really do grieve a bit that children probably will not be in classes with other children and teachers this fall. My little granddaughter positively shined in that environment, and I regret that she may be limited to online relationships with a teacher and only seeing a few close family friends.
Presently, I am writing about my early years of college teaching. Thanks especially to social media, I am still in touch with quite a few of my students. I see how their families are doing, and we exchange good wishes from time to time. I buy products from some who are in business and support some who are writers. Back when they were in school, they were in my classes, participated in clubs where I was the advisor, and came to me for academic and occasionally personal advice. A few even traveled with me to conferences.
My good friend and colleague is a biology professor. She has earned an extended family of students because in addition to being their advisor and participating in the department’s social organizations with them, she travelled with them not just to conferences where they presented posters or papers, but also to Beliz, Kenya, Nepal, and other countries. Many of her students do consider her a family member and interact with her regularly.
Online instruction is not a bad thing, and it provides educational opportunities to many. I actually like teaching college classes online, which I began doing long before I retired and have been doing exclusively in the six years since then. The online classes can be very organized and help the students be organized. And in most cases, the students do all their readings because they can’t hide behind the student in the desk in front of them as they might in a physical class.
But I have only developed a relationship with a few of my online students. The rest are just taking care of business and don’t really want to bother. The ones I do develop a bond with are more like my good social media friends whom I’ve never met. It’s a one-dimensional relationship. I always wonder what they really look like and sound like and, even though they write introductions describing themselves, what they really do in life and what the communities are like that they are from.
I’m not sure what the effect will be if colleges and universities have to go entirely online for the fall or longer. Everyone’s health will be protected, and the schools will suffer economic hardships, those two things are sure. But for a career in college teaching, one needs to experience the lives of students first-hand to understand the sustaining, human aspect of learning and education. I hope face-to-face classes will be able to resume soon.
I used to read that psychologists and scientists who were developing drugs would use cats in their experiments because, psychologically, cats have some traits similar to those of humans.
As I am observing my two cats, I wonder what we can learn today.
Background: One of our cats, Sister, was in a litter born out in the woods surrounding our house. We think the father was the gray tabby whom we fed but who never would let us come near him. We named him Jeff. The mother was a pastel calico we just called Mama Cat. One kitten, whom we named Cory, for “Wrong Way Corrigan,” was left behind crying behind our house when Mama Cat moved the litter. My son trapped him with tuna, he was dewormed, and he became an indoor cat. He actually was afraid of the outside. Later, Mama Cat returned with the rest of the litter and nursed them in our front yard for a long time. She became friendly enough to feed and pet. Then the only one left was a pastel calico kitten we named Sister. We had two indoor cats (from shelters), and Sister did not want to come in while they were there. After they died, she came in, checked the place out, and stayed; but she went outside daily through a cat flap. She is what our vet, Critter Fixer Country Vet Ver nard Hodges, calls “a very vocal cat.”
After about seven years, we heard a kitten crying under the car that I had covered and wasn’t using very often. Another cat checked on it now and then, but the kitten stayed under the car. We fed it. Finally, Cory went to the back door and meowed and meowed, and the kitten, who is a small, smooth-furred, gray-striped cat, came in. She didn’t trust us a bit. She and Cory became friends, and Sister did not like her. Pounce was spayed, she recuperated in a spare bedroom wearing a collar, I fed her, and she began to want me to pet her a little. Now she’s domesticated, though both she and Sister disappear when we have company.
This year, Cory died of stomach cancer, so now the only two cats inside, and allowed to go outside, are Sister and Pounce. Sister became overweight during the time we were trying to get Cory to eat, and she always has been prone to hiss or grumble at little things. If Pounce, who lost a friend when Cory died, comes near her, she gives a big hiss and a yowl. No actually fighting yet, that I’m aware of.
For a while, Sister took the couch in the spare bedroom as hers and glared at Pounce from there. Pounce slept on the end of my bed many nights. Then Sister came in my room, checked the place out, and established herself at the foot of my bed. I mean, she has been napping there all day and night.
The new development: I petted Pounce before I went to bed last night, but thirty minutes later, she was crying in the kitchen. I got up, sat a few minutes, gave her a treat, and went back to bed. She cried again in a few hours and jumped on my bed. Sister hissed and Pounce got down and left. Pounce cried again around 6 am. I got up late as a result of all this, took care of some errands, had breakfast, and went to work on my writing. Sister had not returned to my bed. Then Pounce began going into my room and crying plaintively. She did it three times in a row, so finally I went in there and let her sit on my lap for a while. She got up grudgingly, but did not cry again. The last time I looked, Sister was back on the couch in the spare bedroom, either in a huff or depressed or both, I’m sure.
Can you see why I have titled this “Cats and Humans”?
We should be charitable, contribute to our communities, and teach our children by example to do these things. I know this, and I’ve been reminded of it lately by a young parent who is figuring out how to go about being a good example.
Today, at age 74 and 10 months, I am contributing to my community through my church, a sister church, and Lions Club. I am being charitable by mailing checks to groups I believe are helping others and by giving out food through my church.
But I confess that when I was a parent of young and teen-age children, I was not doing these things, so I was not setting a good enough example. I was a college teacher in a state college where I taught as my contribution to the lives of my students and to making this a better world, but I don’t know that my sons saw it that way. We went to church, and people gave their offerings, but our church was not as engaged in helping others in the community as it is today, even though the congregation was bigger and younger. Individuals served Habitat and a local food bank, and one member served on the school board, but, as far as I knew, that was about it.
So, what can I say, with authenticity, to the young parent who wants to serve his community, help the poor, and teach his children to do the same?
I still believe that the tradition of worshipping God in church is a very important thing for children to experience. Hearing about it is not the same as living it. When you hear about it instead of participating, you don’t get the stories and the songs that stay with you for life, or the comforting ritual, repeated every Sunday, teaching how to pray and worship so one doesn’t have to invent it oneself when in need.
But just going to church is not enough.
It strikes me that one way to have community, charity, and worship at once would be to find a church that does service to the community and become a part of it. It wouldn’t be necessary to go every Sunday, though it’s worthy of the effort. It wouldn’t be necessary to hold an office or participate in every single activity. But if the family can find a church where the worship service seems authentic and comfortable and where there are simple, direct ways of helping others that children can see and eventually participate in, this would be a good step in the direction of serving and teaching one’s children to serve. The activities of helping others, along with the Bible stories and songs to sing, would give the children memories to last forever.
We can’t attend church normally now, let alone join a church, while the Covid-19 virus is still a threat. But we will be able to within the next year. If you are ready to think about it, the time between now and then could be spent looking online and talking to others to find a church that will be nice to join and that helps others in the community.
I’m one who prefers the humble cleric in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and my own humble rector (pastor) at my church, St. Luke’s Episcopal in Fort Valley, Georgia. Egotistic performances at the pulpit normally turn me off.
Today, however, I heard a sermon presentation (not just a sermon but a presentation with video, song, and even a virtual choir) that was part of the Sunday service for the Episcopal Washington National Cathedral. The presentation, “Weary Throats and new songs,” began with compelling song by an older black female vocalist, and after several minutes, the voice of Rev. Otis Moss III began to be heard.
The singing and song were wonderful. But at first, I was not comfortable because his was a fast-paced delivery filled with as many big words as he could squeeze in to capture the essence of the song and of song in the black American experience. I could barely keep up at first with what he was trying to say.
More video could be seen with a young girl watching her grandmother sing in church choir practice, and Rev. Moss kept talking. I began to be moved by the music and the experiences he was describing, and after a while it occurred to me that the events of our time excuse or even require the forcefulness he was using to get across his message.
He ended by suggesting that not only has song carried people through, in the time of the Israelites and in the black experience in our country, but also choirs strengthen us, the act of singing together, being connected in song. I feel this myself, from my participation in our very small choir at St. Luke’s.
Rev. Moss called up on the screen a virtual choir consisting of the musicians, tech people and singers from his congregation. Most of them wore shirts saying "Stay Connected." The experience was very powerful. I’d say it was cathartic if it wasn’t more of a call to action for us to become and stay connected.
I'm a Swedish Lutheran turned Episcopalian who prefers sedate church services and humble preachers, and I would like to share with you the service that so impressed me today. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo44NzWjp0A to be strengthened by song.
I don’t put all my faith into political action. It seems like the free market, education, and our political system are what will influence the future, probably in that order, although they are interrelated.
Right now, the free market seems to be contributing technology as well as increased jobs and affluence through global business interactions. On the dark side, corporations (as well as non-profits, unions, and government entities) spend money to influence government to do what they think will favor them in the short term.
More children have access to education, but results indicate that they do not learn enough about math, history, economics, or cultural heritage. Science is stressed in schools, but those who do not learn to read, think, and do math have limited opportunities in science and technology.
Maybe now more than ever, and maybe due to the failure of schools, many citizens vote based on emotions, on who they are encouraged to think of as enemies, and on what they hope to profit by in the short term. Maintaining our constitutional order and freedom do not seem to be high on most people’s lists.
I say all this to put in perspective what I am glad to have learned from the book Never Trump by Robert P. Saladin and Steven M. Teles. This book reviews in great detail what conservatism has been through--during the last decade, really—and suggests what the two major parties may become in the future. It is a valuable book, and I feel better after having read it.
The authors review the emergence of #nevertrump individuals according to the sectors of the political world the individuals have as their milieus.
To oversimplify, the foreign policy experts already were not very partisan, they had worked to maintain our country’s role in a beneficial world order, and they were horrified not only by Donald Trump’s crudely stated positions but also by his character as a leader. They stated their objections early in letters signed on by many, and as a result, many would not be invited or wish to be invited to play a role in Trump administration.
The political operatives ultimately were separated into two categories, the ones who could make a living and be #nevertrump, and those who eventually realized they couldn’t. However, what I experienced personally during the 2016 campaign and, really, have experienced ever since, could not have happened without these political operatives. I actually met Joel Searby, who risked his career and business to form a plan to try to win in the electoral college by putting forward an independent candidate. To make a long story short, Evan McMullin ended up being that candidate. I had campaigned locally for Rubio who lost (and who disappointed me by lowering himself to Trump’s level during later debates); then I had been on phone calls with Kendall Unrah and a large number of others who were trying to get a voice vote on the floor of the Republican convention to stop Trump; and then I joined with others, like Vicki Hensel and Elaine Stephen, who since have become my dear Facebook friends, to support Evan McMullin. I met Evan, Joel, and John Claybrook in Atlanta, and later McKay Ah Ping. I wrote articles and blogs supporting McMullin for online newsletters and in Medium. I am in Facebook groups formed by Evan supporters: American Pursuit, Americans for the New Conservative Movement, Independent Nation, and Standup Republic. I even joined Unite America, which is bipartisan.
Reading Never Trump helped me get a more complete view and a better understanding of the movement I have been involved in (though I have been playing a very, very minor part).
Another sector the authors of Never Trump report on is the media, which is pretty well broken down into the print and the broadcasting sub-parts. The authors theorize that the intellectuals writing for the print media had the goal of keeping conservatism decent—expunging racist and xenophobic ideas, for example, and of presenting the movement in a positive light, such as by showing how free enterprise helps eliminate poverty. The broadcasters, on the other hand, wanted to whip up viewers at any cost. Two broadcasters, Charlie Sykes and Erik Erickson, were alarmed by Trump. Ultimately, Sykes became a writer and podcaster. Erickson, who writes a column as well as having a radio show, eventually gave up his rigid opposition to Trump. This section of the book helped me to realize that my thinking has been heavily influenced in recent years by the intellectual conservatives. I don’t agree with every point they make, but I consider them to be serious and decent. The trouble is that only a small segment of America reads The National Review, the (now defunct) Weekly Standard, the Bulwark, the Dispatch, and other intellectual conservative publications or the columns by Bret Stephens, Mona Charen, Linda Chavez, and Jennifer Rubin, to name a few. Broadcasters on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets form the opinions of the majority of Americans—those who don’t simply rely on dubious social media posts for their ideas and “information.” So, politically, I was living in an imaginary world, thinking it represented the larger world of conservatives. It didn’t, and it doesn’t.
The book also discusses lawyers and economists and essentially says that most of them try to stay away from taking positions for or against Trump, although there are exceptions.
Never Trump concludes by putting forth two possibilities. One is that Never Trumpers will have little or no influence on the future of our country as socialists and populists continue to fight for control with weaker centrists having less and less sway. The other is that a new wing of the Republican Party will grow and come into power in some states and areas that do not agree with populism and racism and xenophobia but do support free enterprise, the constitution, and equal rights for all, regardless of race, national origin or gender. Then the Democratic Party would have two wings, the socialist one and the more moderate, traditional one. And the Republican Party would have two wings, the liberal-conservative one and the populist one. I am not sure where the various wings would stand on use of military force, but the moderate Democrats and liberal-conservative Republicans would favor free trade. Then Congress would make laws based on compromises that could be achieved among the groups, and, hopefully, have more strength to stand up against the president, whoever he or she might be.
It’s my turn to weigh in on the subject of masks.
To be clear, I agree with the scientists and doctors who tell us that we wear cotton or disposable or even bandana masks for others, not for ourselves. It turns out that our masks help deflect the micro-drops of virus even if they are not the N95 quality that medical personnel wear. But we wear them in case we have the virus so we don’t spread it and to encourage a social compact that if we all wear them, fewer will get sick or die.
It probably was in February when my daughter-in-law sent me a pattern for cloth masks and suggested I could make them to help medical people in need. By the time I made my first few, the call for masks for medical personnel required a different pattern that allowed the insertion of filters as liners. I had just barely figured out my until-then-unused new portable sewing machine and the instructions Andrea gave me. The new pattern, for hospital masks, looked daunting. A lot of measuring and folding would be required.
The experts in the US and WHO were saying that it would not be advisable for average people to begin wearing masks as they do in Asia. I made masks for my family and my son’s store employees anyway.
But then the experts changed their tune. They said they hadn’t recommended masks because there was a shortage of them for medical personnel, and they were afraid people would rely on masks too much and not take the other precautions such as hand washing and not touching their faces. Ever since, the experts on TV have reminded and begged us over and over to wear masks if we come around other people.
Meanwhile, my mask sewing was improving (my apologies to those who got the first batch), and I finally got some elastic and the right type of wire for the nose area from Amazon. A friend’s daughter asked for masks for her older parents; so, I volunteered, and I also offered masks to my church members (virtually all of us are elderly.)
Ever since, I’ve been making masks every few days. I even put some in the Little Free Pantry behind our church for people in need. But not everyone has bought in.
My son who is scrupulous about health habits and works in a factory--where they were laid off for two weeks due to a case of Covid 19--was frustrated that the men in the plant, including the managers, won’t wear masks. The managers still aren’t, but since there have been two additional cases, and maybe because of the experts on television, now almost half of the workers are wearing them. His co-workers made fun of the masks I made for him, but he has since found more effective masks that look more ordinary, I guess.
Being over 65, I haven’t gone away from home much. I’ve seen crowds of people on TV who ignore both social distancing and mask wearing requests. I’ve heard about Trump supporters who become angry when asked to wear a mask and sometimes become violent.
In our small Georgia town, there are quite a few mask wearers. I’ve noticed that more African Americans than whites are masked up.
I plan to stay the course, keep wearing mine, and make more if anyone needs them. Both for ourselves and for others, we’re better safe than sorry, And please step back if you get too close to my face!
Recently someone close to me asked my opinion about her poems. And another old friend is sending me his poetry book to review and edit. In fact, I did edit a book of poems for a former student about a year ago.
I find commenting on the poetry of others to be very tough!
When, in the seventies, I began writing poems fairly frequently, I did it for enjoyment and self-expression. As an English literature instructor, I was familiar with much poetry, most of it old. I did sit in on a colleague’s modern American poetry class, however, where I gained a deep appreciation for e.e. cummings, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens. I’m sure I began to try modeling my work after theirs.
In the eighties, I was tremendously fortunate to become involved in the Macon Poetry Group and later the Georgia Poetry Circuit. Adrienne Bond got the poetry group started, and other members included Judson Mitcham, Seaborn Jones, Mike Cass, Adrienne’s sister Charlotte, and a few others. We were not a group of hobbyists. We were very serious about improving our ability to write good poetry. Members made detailed, constructive recommendations. There was little deflection to avoid hurting members’ feelings or vanity. Still, one (well-published) member admitted he only brought his poems after he was sure he had thoroughly revised them. Both Jud and Adrienne had been to the Breadloaf Writers Conference in Vermont, and their experiences there must have informed our discussions. Several of us subsequently attended writers’ conferences at Callanwolde in Atlanta, at Sandhills at Augusta College, even as far away as Birmingham and Indiana University. I gradually found my voice, at least some of the time, and I succeeded in getting a few poems published in minor literary magazines. You might say that some principles or rules were drilled into me by these experiences, except that I also learned that any rule about writing poetry can be broken for a reason.
So I feel that before I give constructive criticism to other people who have written, I ought to provide a disclaimer, or several. As a result of my experiences, I have developed biases and tastes as well as a recognition that there are all kinds of poets and poetry in this world. The kinds of poems I work to write are not the only forms of value, not the only ones that are published. Each poet has to decide on his or her form, but, as it was for me, individuals can learn from reading other poets and understanding their techniques.
My biases and tastes derived from the advice of William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Koch, and the good poets I was privileged to interact with. They include, but are not limited to the following:
* When possible, use short or even single syllable words with clear vowel sounds.
* Longer lines with five or six or more strong stresses carry more weight or seriousness than shorter lines. A caveat: I love the work of Williams who in some of his poems attempted to emulate American speech, using three beats per line.
* Deciding where to end a line is very important. It can be a full stop, or it can lean into the words in the next line.
* The more images and the fewer abstract and/or Latinate words, the better.
* Less punctuation is called for than in prose, but some mechanism should be used to indicate ends of sentences or transitions. Poems should convey complete thoughts in most cases rather than being a stream of words.
* Titles are very important and should bring something to the poem that you maybe couldn’t put in the lines of the poem, but it’s possible for the first line to also serve as the title.
However, these are only biases and tastes, even if I do share them with other poets. Out in the world of published and recognized poetry, there are prose poems, abstract poems that make little or no literal sense, Walt Whitman type poems that go on and on, and, of course, a panoply of rhymed and metered options, both old and new.
I will inject these ideas into my comments on my friends’ poems, but I wouldn’t dare to tell them what they should say.
Now, having considered all of this, I need to go back to work and write more poems.
It's still the pandemic and I'm still staying at home. Instead of walking at the park or on a walking track or at the mall, I'm walking on the road near our house.
I've changed my route since a cheerful young dog insisted on following me home if I went down Windy Hill to the cul-de-sac and back. Now, I leave home, turn left, turn right at Daniel Drive crossing the road, go past the university president's residence down to the Daniel Drive cul-de-sac, and home. I see some berry bushes before reaching the president's house, and I've been waiting to see if ripe berries show up. But the bushes are about 12 feet from the road, with a section of tall grass between the road and the bushes, and I'm constantly in mind of Dr. Houston Stallworth's admonition, "Take a quick look-see before you step." That bit of wisdom was imparted when my mobile home was being set up on his property in August 1968 before I began my 46+ year career at Fort Valley State, or as some like to say, "The Fort Valley State University." (It was a college then.)
Dr. Stallworth said this when we saw a relatively small rattlesnake on the lot where we were setting up. Those bushes on Daniel Drive today look like a prime location for snakes. In fact, I saw a black snake go into the bushes closer to the president's house just the other day.
Since my Daniel Drive walk is a little short, I thought I'd try turning right out of my driveway, walking down to the next driveway, then turning back and heading to Daniel Drive. And guess what I discovered--blackberries along the road in the grass! Today was my second day bringing a small paper sack and picking the ripe ones. It is hard to step between the little plants, not quite bushes or vines, and not step right on top of some berries. While I was concentrating on where I was planting my feet, a truck driver stopped along side of me and said, "Watch out for rattlesnakes!"
"I am," I said, and I gave the ok sign with my fingers. But I admit that I watched my step even more closely on the rest of my walk.
I'm fascinated by the way different experiences that we have connect. That's why my stream of consciousness is so active (and I leave people behind in my conversations so frequently). Today’s blackberries remind me of the times, only two years ago, when our granddaughter Alana was three, or maybe it was when she was two. My daughter-in-law Andrea, Alana, and I would go to the berry patch in a vacant lot around the corner from their house in Grant Park, in Atlanta. I didn't think anything about snakes there, although, I admit, I did see a snake in the weeds on the edge of their property when they first moved into their house in Grant park.
Maybe I can write a poem about snakes and berries some time. But for now, a stream-of-consciousness blog will have to suffice.
Observations on the subjects of friends, family, country, cultures and nature.