There is a Story
leaves with beauty in their death
carpet the forest floor
layer on layer each year
brilliant reds and oranges
fade to browns
return to the earth
ornament the needles
of a sapling in the woods
there is a story here
of death and new life
an old story retold
the trill of a bird
sweet and short
a soft reminder
of joy in the morning
there is a story here
Today I went for two hikes in the Florida woods. I’m staying at the Lodge at Wakulla Springs State Park for what would have been our 42nd anniversary. Chuck would have enjoyed these hikes -no snakes, beautiful fall weather and lovely colors.
When the so-called pandemic hit, hiking kept me sane. The fresh air and exercise were a balm to my spirit. They still are. Now most of my walks are in the neighborhood with my dog, Ruby. But I can still find beauty there. And it still does me good.
We had so many plans. A trip to New England, concerts, spending time with the grandkids. I am learning now to say “Lord willing” more often when I talk of what I hope/plan to do. It is still a learning process to go it alone. I’m used to hiking alone and taking trips alone, but it’s the eating alone I have to work on. While I’ve been at the lodge I’ve been taking a book with me to the dining room/restaurant. I’m currently reading our book club’s selection, The Secret Diary of Hendrick Groen, 83 1/2 Years Old, which is quite entertaining.
I guess my thoughts have wandered around a bit in this post. The thoughts and words put together here are kind of like a crowded parchment.
Like I said in my last post, God’s Word, poetry, sunshine, and fresh air get me through these uncertain days. Today’s prompt from NaPoWrimo was to write a poem based on a “walking archive”. Those of you who follow me here or on Instagram know I post a lot of pictures of things I find on my walks and hikes, so this one was a natural prompt for me.
I walk for sunshine
I walk for sanity
I walk to remind myself
Of Pippa’s song
God’s in His heaven
All’s right with the world
Even when it feels all wrong
I find a dandelion
And think of Ray Bradbury
And The Avett Brothers
And blow my wishes
to scatter the seeds
I observe moss on the rocks
And dream of the fairies who visit at night
Knowing it’s all pretend
Think of how we used to pretend
Give each other different names
Like Twenty-One Pilots
And I hum the song
Wish we could turn back time
I catch the sun
Filtering through the trees
Making shadows on my arm
While the birds sing
A song I do not know
I see beauty in the wildflowers
Beauty in the ruins
And I walk on
Ruby by my side
Man’s best friend
And mine, too.
In the middle of a very rainy winter, when it seems like spring will never come, I welcome the sunshine. I head to Red Mountain Park and am never disappointed. There, amidst the lifeless flora, I can always find some green. Sometimes a flower, even though considered a weed, peeps out below my feet to remind me that spring will come.
I find the abandoned railroad tracks where trees have grown up in the middle.
When my mind is burdened with thoughts and decisions that need to be made, I can find a calm. Though I return home with those decisions still unmade, the burden seems less. I not only have the assurance of spring, but the assurance that my future is in God’s hands, just like spring.
See, you can only live one day at a time
Only drive one hot rod at a time
Only say one word at a time
And only think one thought at a time
And every soul is alone when the day becomes night
And there in the dark if you can try to see the light
In the most pitch black shape of the loneliest shadow
Well then you ought to sleep well
‘Cause there’s hope for sure
High Steppin’/The Avett Brothers
So, I was talking to 2019:
She said, “Goodbye”
I said, “High.”
She said, “Low.”
“But, these are my goals for 2020,” I told her. “If not high, at least higher. In three categories: books read, miles hiked, blog posts written. So, 2019, let’s take a look and you’ll see what I mean.”
“With you, I read or listened to 43 books. That averages 3 1/2 a month. With you, I hiked 132 miles. That’s an average of only 2 1/2 a week. With you, I wrote 67 blog posts. That’s about 5 1/2 a month.”
She said, “Why?” And I said, “I don’t know”
She said, “Stop”.
I said, “Okay. I’m done with you. Finished. You are kaput!”
So, I talked to 2020 for a bit.
“Hey, 2020!” I said, “Hello, hello, hello.”
I said, “Go, go, go.” At first she misunderstood me.
“No, no, don’t go away. I mean go WITH me. We’ve got some goals to take care of to beat 2019. We need to read at least four books a month. And hike at least 3 miles a week. And write at least six posts a month.”
2020 said, “Yes.”
Today we decided to hike the Tom Bevil trail at Lake Guntersville State Park. Whoo boy.
We expected a little over three miles, but somehow missed a sign and kept going. I saw a spot that seemed familiar and told my husband to stop, but he, knowing I am the one with a very poor sense of direction, told me to focus and keep going. Then, we passed another spot that I knew I ‘d taken a picture of, and this time I pulled out the map on my MapMyHike app, that was sorta working when the gps had not been lost. That’s when we knew we’d overshot the mark and had to turn around. This is in about 95 degree weather and we were running low on water. AND this is after we’d come across a rattlesnake on our path! My husband hates snakes. He says the only good snake is a dead snake. Well, this guy was about 3 1/2-4 feet long and very much alive. After that encounter we were walking very slowly, about negative one mile an hour, looking left and right in case the rattler had any siblings in the area. Which was another reason that the Tom Bevil nearly did us in. I think it should be renamed the Tom Devil Trail. Just sayin’.
Last time we were on a long hike and struggling, we were with our daughter. She is so wise. She got us playing a word game that made us think about the game instead of how long we still had to get back to the car and it worked. This time, though, hubby was not interested in games. So, I thought of a few songs along the way to distract myself, while he took the lead taking care of all the spider webs ahead of me.
I don’t always make wise purchases. Like the time I got gallons of peachy paint only to get them home and realize it would make my house look like Publix.
Or the time I went along with my husband’s idea of buying a double kayak, which he went out in with me maybe three times in the water behind our house. It was too large for me to tote anywhere on my own and we eventually ended up selling it to someone who bought it as a graduation gift for her son. I don’t remember whatever became of all the peachy paint.
But, I want to tell you about three things that WERE wise purchases and have and still are serving me well.
First is my trusty backpack. I have had it for 15 years and it’s still going strong. It was first purchased for a trip to Ireland, and has been put to use ever since for hiking, carry-on for plane flight, trips with grandkids, to the library, and even to work some days. It’s thin enough to flatten in the bottom of a suitcase it needed. I purchased it from the Rick Steves website, where you can find the updated version.
Second is my Brita water bottle. I’ve had it for about three years, not sure exactly. I actually found it marked down at Publix, but it can be ordered online. It goes with me when I travel. I take it empty through security, then fill it on the other side at a water fountain. I’ve ordered refill filters via amazon. It’s also used when I hike.
My most recent wise purchase is a hiking stick. I ordered it for hiking, but soon after had knee surgery. I used it to hobble around at work for a short while and now use it whenever I hike up and down any inclines. It’s super lightweight and folds up into its own little bag.
Today I await delivery of what I hope is another wise purchase – a new laptop. I don’t have a desktop, so it IS my desktop. My old one (Asus) has served me well but in laptop years I think it’s older than me. If it’s like dog years it’s 70. I use my chromebook (Lenovo now) on a very regular basis, but there are somethings I just can’t do on it, such as edit photos. I’m excited to see if this purchase (Lenovo) will magically improve my writing and photography skills. Time will tell.
I can not recall ever seeing this word before today. Websters has this to say: habitual disposition or mode of behavior or procedure.
To me it’s like a portmanteau. Like a Spork. Like Forky. But, I digress.
My husband is a man with definite habitudes. I see it more every day. The tomato juice every morning. The laying out of clothes in the evening. Those unsavory (to me) two – just lasagna or chili – Atkins meals for lunch.
But it’s funny how I am wondering what my own habitudes are. I like to mix things up. Try new items on the menu. Rotate my perfume. But and yet, I have a few habitudes. Like the way I vacuum the house on a rotating basis. And carry my iced coffee in my favorite insulated cup to work. And take photos of little plastic toys when I hike.
But I think I’ve overlooked the first part of the definition – the habitual disposition. Oh boy, that’s a hard one to talk about. That’s where I know I need a “Habitude Adjustment”. But for now I’ll leave you with a gallery of my little plastic guys. Maybe one day you’ll find one on the trail somewhere.
Our last two days went by too quickly!
Today we went for a short hike at Moss Rock Preserve. I think the kids knew we’d do at least one hike while they were here since we’ve done several with them in the past. We took a trail that I knew would take us to a mini-waterfall. There we all took off our socks and shoes and splashed around, and ate some snacks we’d brought along in my trusty backpack. It was really quite perfect!
In the late afternoon/early evening we went to the Ross Bridge Farmers Market. This was another WIN. We got a little produce, the kids got free balloon creations, bounced around in the bounce houses and rolled around on the lawn. We then got our meals from the food trucks. The kids had some chicken tenders from Eugene’s Hot Chicken, while Grandpa and I got sandwiches from the I Love Bacon truck. Chuck got the The BLT of Curtis Loew and I chose the Miami Sound Machine, a Cuban sandwich made with beer braised pork belly. We all polished it off with some shaved ice. E and I both got Vanilla Cream, while JuJu and Grandpa got Cherry Limeade.
Our last day was rather low key. JuJu and I met a few ladies from church for breakfast at Panera, then made a quick trip to Trader Joe’s. In the afternoon the kids’request was a return trip to the library. That night we had breakfast for supper per JuJu’s request, then a fairly early bedtime so we could be out the door by seven the next morning.
In addition to “Field Trips”, our days were filled with math, maps, and language arts; screen time; playing with, feeding snacks to and walking Ruby; reading and coloring; card games, board games and puzzles; Legos and scooters; telling family stories.
Our first Bell Camp was a success and we look forward to many more to come!
In finalizing the cessation of my other blog, I thought I’d put together some bits and pieces about things to do outdoors around Birmingham.
Moss Rock Preserve
Looking for a spot to get your Saturday morning hike on? Moss Rock Preserve is the perfect place. Situated only minutes from John Hawkins Parkway and Shades Crest Road in Hoover, this 349 acre preserve is a great location for hikers and nature lovers of all ages and skill levels. This is where my husband began getting in shape for a trip to Montana a few years back. There are 12 miles of trails to explore. And it’s free!
- Bring water
- Leave no trash behind
- Bring snacks if you have a 5-year old – “I’m hungry” is a common refrain
- A walking stick comes in handy
- Watch out for wet, slippery rocks (I speak from experience)
- Don’t forget your camera
Oak Mountain Park
This 9000+ acre park in Pelham, the largest state park in Alabama, has so much to offer in addition to hiking. There is a beach and swimming area, boat rentals, camping, biking, golf, nature programs, basketball courts, horseback riding – and that’s just some of what you’ll find here – whew!
The trails are clearly marked ; when our five year old grandson hiked with us he was a great scout, keeping us on the white and yellow trails. Along the way there was a creek flowing through – a great spot for a break.
- Bug spray is helpful
- Hiking shoes – it’s not about the looks, it’s about the ankle support
- Buy a map at the park office and use it
- Bring water
- Don’t overdo it
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Another beautiful and free place to visit, with so many varieties of roses! I discovered that there is a library at the gardens – mostly botanical related items. I was able to use my library card to check out a few magazines and I can then return them at the Hoover Library – sweet! There is also a wonderful gift shop that has delicious smelling soaps and candles and lots of unique items.
Pepper Place Market
This outdoor market, held on Saturdays, has not just produce, but lots of local crafts and ready-made food items. There is music to enjoy and on hot days a mister for the kids, or hot adults.
This 19 acre park along 1st street is right next to Regions Field, home of the Barons. It has numerous paths to walk, water features, two playgrounds, grassy areas for play or picnicking and even a designated areas for skaters.
The Zoo is great for all ages. Your best bargain is to get a Membership for a year. This will also get you discounted admission to reciprocal locals across the country. Besides the animals, there is a train ride, carousel, playgrounds,and water play area for the kids. There are also numerous places to get a bite to eat, and also a gift shop.
- If you want to save money, go on half-price Tuesday
- If you want to avoid crowds, don’t go on Tuesday
- Use sunscreen
- Take your time; go with your kids’ pace. It’s better to savor the moments than to try to see everything
- May is prime Field Trip time for schools