Monday, June 11, 2012

The Ride

Wow!!!!!!!!!! That is all that I could think as I climbed on the back of my Harley. I had been so looking forward to this evening. The work week was finally behind me and I was ready to play.

 Since early in the day I had loosely stitched my plans together for the evening. Tonight, I was just an old bachelor with a Friday night to kill. My wife had headed into Arlington to see our daughter and had left me to do as I pleased for a rare Friday evening. It was only as the day progressed that I began to think that it might end up as just a quiet rainy night at home. The storms that I had been watching on the radar for the last several hours just kept inching closer and closer and closer. It was around 7 by the time I was done for the day and the storms had just kept getting more and more threatening.

I slowly put on my riding gear as I kept watching the weather thinking that it was just a waste of time. As I looked in the mirror at this stranger standing before me, it was then that i decided, tonight, ........tonight I ride. I don't care if the rain drenches me to the bone. I ride. I ride because my soul needed the release that it would bring.

I was less than a mile from home, heading Northwest towards the edge of the storm when the lightning began. It was beautiful. I was mesmerized by the beauty and strength that this storm was displaying. It wasn't that weak spindly lightning, it was bold and strong and it lit up the darkened sky with fingers that traced it's way across the whole sky, searching for places to touch and things to grip and destroy. Yet I rode on. I should have felt fear, but there was none. there was nothing in me but awe. I had accepted the dance that this storm had offered.

My destination was a little cafe out in the country known simply as The Hannibal Cafe. This little old cafe is all that is there. As I rode towards my destination, I felt the storm reaching out to me and I could feel the change in the air. I could not help but get lost in the clouds, the wind, the lightning and finally the drops of rain as they began to fall upon me as I neared my destination. I arrived just ahead of the heavy rain and I went inside to enjoy the evening and to wait for the storm to pass by. I ran into a few friends and sat and had supper and visited with them; occasionally stepping out to see what the storm was doing. It was beautiful. To the North and West, I could see the day fading away and to the South and West I could see the fury of the storm continue to rage. It was one of those places where you were experiencing both, the storm and the occasional calm in the storm but not swallowed up by either. I sat and visited until the back of the storm was just easing by us.

One destination down, one to go. There is a little watering hole in another little town near where we live that is such a relaxing place to sit and visit. It is like sitting in your back yard and visiting with friends. The only downside is that it was in the direction that the storm was heading. That turned out to be the most amazing ride. As I headed East I trailed the storm that had raged so furiously around me. The lightning lit up the whole sky as I followed along, almost as if it were luring me along into the dark night. The skies went from pitch black to brilliant displays of electricity that almost took your breath away with the raw power that it exhibited. I snaked my way along the backroads until I found myself sitting in the familiar surroundings of the "Greenwood". It was a quiet Friday night there, apparently the storms had kept many of the regulars at home. There were however a few people who had decided to come out in spite of the weather. I sat around and had a few beers as I watched the storm slowly continue on its path. Every now and then I would move to a position to get a better view of the storm as it departed.

The evening that I had so anticipated was slowly but surely drawing to a close. Slowly but steadily the few patrons that were there began that slow steady trickle out the door and suddenly I realized the night had disappeared right before my very eyes. I said goodnight to the barkeep and I headed out the door to my Harley for the ride home. I didn't go straight home this particular night, I took a little detour to a high point about two miles out in the country just so that I could have one last look at the storm that had kept me company for the evening. I pulled to this high point and just sat there quietly on my bike for a few minutes. It was a way of saying goodnight to a friend that kept me company on a quiet lonely evening. As I turned back on the highway and made it just a mile or two down the road towards home, the clouds softly parted and the full moon that had been hidden by the storm slowly began to peak out from behind the clouds. It was as if the moon had decided to reward me for enduring the storm.

I am not sure if I will ever view the storms in the night or the full moon in the same manner that I did when my evening began. It definitely left me with a new appreciation for what the night holds if your willing to brave the storms. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a ride!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sunrise at Enchanted Rock

There is something about a sunrise that just makes me want to stop the world just so that I can linger in the beauty that it brings. Such was the case on a recent visit to a beautiful Texas treasure. This hidden treasure is in the Texas hill country and it is called Enchanted Rock. It is a fascinating and intriquing granite formation that just seems to appear out of nowhere as you come upon it as you wind around the backroad between Llano and Fredericksburg. I have been to this place on many occasions in my life. When my children were little they used to love to go camping there. It is purely tent and primitive camping with no electricity at any of the sites. Wildlife is abundant and they are not afraid to wander right into your camp. We always had to secure our ice chest and everything else  because the raccoons were quite good at getting into everything. Deer, squirrels, raccoons, all sorts of animals will wander right through your campsite.

It was late on Saturday evening when I rolled into the campground. The temperature on my truck was registering a nice cool 104 degrees. With those types of temperatures, it did not take me long to set up camp. The breeze was blowing nicely so even with the heat, it really was't that bad. As evening settled in, I began to relax and to just enjoy being out with nature. It has been such a long time since I just allowed myself the pleasure of just getting away and stopping for a little while. A late evening walk brought back such fond memories for me. As I wandered along the trails that weaved in and out of various campsites, I would see the curious squirrel as she dug through someone's camping gear that had obviously never experienced the wildlife here before and then there were the deer just grazing innocently along the trail. They just stop for a moment and glance up as if to say hello. This is where they live and we are their guest.

I could almost here the laughter of my own children from twenty years ago echoing through the trees and along the trails. Those were precious times as a family. I believe that those were the times that brought the strength to our family that was needed just to endure the everyday life that just seemed to do its best to suck the life right out of you. It was a time where as a family we just had such good times. As you know, my family is grown and gone now, but one of these days we will return to this place and I will hear the laughter of not only my children but also that of my grandchildren. I love this place.

When the night finally convinced me that it was time to rest, I simply lay in my tent and looked up through the screened ceiling and just marveled at how crisp and clear the stars were. They winked and nodded and held my attention as the breeze in the trees gently lulled me to sleep. It was a deep peaceful sleep, even without the comforts of home, it was just a deep soothing sleep.

The birds acted as my alarm clock that next morning. My body naturally awakens about 5:30 to 6:00, and the musical performance that I was greeted with was fantastic. I just lay there quietly and listened as they beautifully welcomed the day. I arose while the sky was still dark and I quickly slipped into some shorts and hiking shoes so that I could go and conquer this granite beast while the day was still cool. As I wandered throught the trails that led to the base, I could not help but notice that there were people there from all walks of life. People from all over the country as well as the world were represented here in this unique little slice of Texas.

When I arrived at the main trail leading up the rock, I decided to do something different. Because it always takes so long, my family and I would always go up the main trail to the peak and not linger at the other trails or the other lesser peaks. This particular morning I chose not to tackle the main climb, but to explore some of the lower peaks. It was while I was ascending this rougher more remote area that I saw the sun begin to break upon the day. I stopped and unloaded my camera and began to take numerous photos of this grand entrance that the sun had decided to make this day. It was beautiful indeed and it made me stop in the midst of my struggle up this mountain to enjoy where I was in this climb and that is when I began to realize how many tiimes the sun had risen on me and I was too busy to stop and even realize where I was.

Many times in the midst of our struggles in life, the sun has risen on us screaming out with beauty to gain our attention trying to get us to stop and simply enjoy where we were even in the midst of our climb up this mountain that we call our life. Sadly many times I was so focused on the climb that I missed it. Day after day I missed it. This however was a new day. This day I realized where I was in my climb and I realized the sun would be with me all day but the sunrise was only momentary, so I lingered in my climb and I soaked every moment of it in until it had fully risen and moved into its rightful place in the sky. It was only then that I proceeded with my climb up to the top of the mountain that I had chosen to climb this day. I faced many obstacles on this climb but with renewed patience and purpose I methodically worked my way to the top. From that vantage point, the world was different than when I began at the base. Not better, not worse, just different. A different perspective is sometimes all that we need to make us see things that have been there all along.

As I left this wonderful Enchanted Rock, it had a whole new meaning in my life. It is not about where I had been or where I was going. It was simply about where I am and being at peace with that.

The photos will never do it justice, but I just wanted you to at least get a glimpse of what it looks like.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Can't You Hear It?

Can't You Hear It?
 Can you feel it? There is change in the air. Stop for just a moment and listen. Do you hear it? It is the slow ticking of time as the world around us changes. It is so subtle that you do not even realize it until it is too late. You look up and the hand has turned.

Yesterday I was a child running freely through the hills where I was raised. Today? Today those hills are just a distant memory.

Today I am no longer a child. Today I am far removed from those carefree days. Today I am just tired. Today I want to stop and enjoy the life that I know is out there.

The problem is that life is just like the merry-go-round that we used to play on as children. At first you spend all of your energy trying to get it to go faster and faster and faster and before you know it, you have succeeded. That is the exciting and the scary part of life. We lean back as the forces pull us outward and we feel our grips tighten trying desperately to hang on. Everything around us is just a blur, shapes and images come together as unrecognizable images. We drown out the voices telling us to not go so fast and now we are desparately hanging on for dear life just wondering if we will lose our grip and be slung aside or if we will just have to endure until of it's own accord the merry-go-round slows back down to the point that things are no longer blurred and it is just a slow peaceful ride.

Today I am just tired. The day is fading and I find myself looking for a quiet place. The quiet however is drowned out by the constant ticking that I hear. Maybe it is only in my mind, but I can hear it, very steady, tick      tick      tick      tick      tick................ Can't you hear it? 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lost Treasures

Lost Treasure
  The text simply said "Well the  Bride and Groom have been broken beyond repair."

Sadly, I knew immediately what that meant. The bride and groom in question were a simple little inexpensive Lefton cake topper that my wife's grandmother had given her before we got married  nearly thirty years ago. Throughout our entire marriage that little piece has sat in a number of places in our home, but always somewhere that my wife could enjoy the simple beauty of it. It's most recent perch has been in a small little display that she had sitting by her favorite perch in the living room. It was nestled away in small metal tin that resembled a gazebo with colored windows surrounding it.

This little figurine had been a part of our lives for a long time. I would like to say that it was in mint condition, but the truth is that it had been broken once before. That time, it was dropped and it was just a small issue. The groom simply broke in half, but with the help of a little glue and a black sharpie, you would never have known. This time, I could tell from the tone of my wife's text that it wasn't quite that simple this time. I was away at work so I simply told her to "gather up the pieces".

Her next text reminded me that her Grandma had given it to her and I knew immediately that the hurt would run much deeper than first thought. You see, my wife lost her Father last March. He had been ill for a while and their relationship had been strained for a long time, but that is a post for another day. That death preceded the death of her Grandma by about six weeks. She has really struggled with those two deaths more than I was expecting and more than I think that she was expecting. So the sudden loss of a simple treasure suddenly had so much more meaning. It was no longer about the figurine, it was about lost treasures that can never be recovered or restored. It was about death and the loss of loved ones. It was about life and the brevity of it. It was about when things are broken beyond repair no matter how much we would like to fix them. Simply put, it was about life.

My wife calls me a plodder. I really am not sure if she is saying this in a good or a bad way, but I guess that it really does not matter. There are few peaks and valleys for me, mostly I just plod along dealing with the issues of life as I come across them. So in that same manner, when I arrived home that night about 10:30, I asked her where the pieces were. She teared up a little bit and shook a small cardboard box and I could tell that her text was probably correct. She handed the box over to me and I poured them out on the table and I began to study them as she went to her favorite spot and settled in to play a game of spider to help her wash away the day.

Restored Bride & Groom

I slowly and methodically picked up each and every piece examining it very closely. Then I went and got some super glue and I began to very carefully place the pieces back together like some type of cruel jigsaw puzzle. Small pieces suddenly became larger pieces and larger pieces became larger yet. Then as if by some will of it's own, the figurine suddenly looked like the Bride and Groom all over again. I walked into the living room and handed it to her and you would have thought that I had given her the moon. Gone was the sadness that had filled her face and voice since early in the day. Gone was that despair that had settled over her like a cloud. In it's place was a beaming smile and giggles.

I have always figured myself as a fixer. When things were broken, I fix them. That is just part of the plodder nature. Unfortunately there are a limited number of things in this life that I can fix. Even the things that I do fix, if you look closely, you will see the cracks that tell you that I was there. I can't make things like they were before but sometimes, like with this simple little inexpensive treasure, I can restore it to the point that the cracks fade away and the smile and the memories return.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Guardian

Acrea Cemetary

I shall never forget the first day that I saw her. It is as fresh for me now as the day that it happened. She was so young and beautiful. I knew immediately that she was somewhere that she shouldn't be, so quietly I just watched her as she slowly and methodically wandered around the small open field that we were in. At first she just aimlessly wandered not seeming to have any direction or any intent, simply just meandering through the field as if in a daze. Her youth and beauty were somehow lost in the air of sadness that was enveloping her almost like a cloud that had descended upon her.

Drawn to her in a way that I still do not understand, I watched her every move, her every step, her every breath. I tell you I cannot explain it. I was quite young at the time and there were so many things that I did not understand. The one thing that I did understand was that this young woman needed something. Not something that just anyone could give. Surely not something that I could give. I was so young. She needed strength not the weakness that I offered. If only I could help, If only I were able to speak to her, if only I could reach out and touch her. I could see the need in her face and in the way that her body moved. If only I could call out to her.

Then slowly the breeze began to stir and you could begin to hear the wind in the trees as the dry brittle leaves began to rustle and fall in the late Autumn afternoon. Then as if spoken to, she turned and saw me. I had been there the whole time, but it was as if she had never seen me until that very moment. Her aimless meandering seemed distant now. Now she had direction, now she had a new look upon her face, not one of despair but one of hope and courage. She walked straight to where I stood. Carefully she reached out and touched me as if to say are you the one. Then I heard her breath deeply and say "Yes, are the one". I stood there silently as she continued on. It was just the two of us and the evening light was beginning to fade as the day was losing its battle against the night. "You will be his Guardian. Tomorrow I must lay my son to rest and I do not want to leave him in this open field alone. Winter is coming and it will grow cold. I will bury him in your shadow. You are small now, but I will come and water your roots with the tears for my son and I will rest my head against your trunk as I sit in his presence. You will grow tall and you will grow strong. In the winter your massive trunk will shelter his grave from the snow and ice and in the summer your leaves will give him shelter from the sun. You will be his guardian. I will pray that you will have the strength to always care for him even when I have grown old. So grow strong, sink your roots deep into the ground and brace for the challenge ahead."

Then just as slowly as she had entered my little field, she left it. I was humbled when I saw the small crudely made box that was brought and laid beneath me the next day. I was so small and worried that I would not be able to carry out the wishes of this lovely young mother. So I did as she had said. I dug my roots deep into the ground to better stand against all of the battles that I knew were sure to come. I covered his grave with my leaves in the Fall to keep him warm. I stood strong in the winter when my leaves were gone and there was nothing but my empty barren limbs to try and fight off the snow. I faced the strong Spring storms that I needed in order to gather nourishment to continue to stand. I soaked up the rays of the hot Texas sun so that it did not beat down upon where he lay. I did it. I did all that she had asked me to do. In return, she did all that she said she would do. She came faithfully to always check upon her son. She enjoyed the same benefits that I provided to him. In return she loved me and thanked me and always spoke to me in a kind loving manner. I saw this beautiful young woman slowly grow into a tired but still beautiful old woman. We were friends that spoke to each other in the only way that we knew how. It was a beautiful arrangement.

Child's Grave Acrea Cemetary
Then that day came that I knew would eventually come. It was not a small box like the one right beside me and it was not as crude, but it was a box nonetheless. I knew what it meant. I knew all to well what it meant, for since the first small child was laid at my side, my small field had seen this ritual performed over and over. Yes, I was all too familiar with what it meant. I knew that I had seen her for the last time. Never again would her tears wash the dust from my trunk, never again would I feel her hair caress me as the wind softly blew, never again would she sit in my shadow.

I am alone now and so uncertain of what I am to do. Before, I always knew that she would come and that she needed me. Her need is what caused me to grow tall and strong. Her need is what made me into what I am today. Little did I know that when she spoke those words "You are the one", that it was a task with only a beginning and no ending. So here I stand, The Guardian. The only thing that has changed is that now I am guarding her as well.


This was a short story inspired by my daughter, who is an incredible writer, and an old country cemetary on a warm Sunday evening a few weeks ago. The picture that I took does not do justice to the tree or to the small grave that lays at it's base. The Acrea Cemetary dates back to the 1850's and this particular grave had no visible name or date. I hope that you enjoyed my take on the events that led to the creation of this old cemetary.

Sunset at Acrea Cemetary
This was probably one of the most inspiring places that I have been in quite some time. I meant to stop by and take a couple of quick photos, but I found myself captivated by the quiet and solitude. I literally stayed until it was almost too dark to see. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Korbin's Tree

Korbin's Tree
I had barely walked in from work on this beautiful Saturday afternoon when I had a four year old munchkin grabbing my leg and asking if we could pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease plant a tree.

Well I guess the day is here that I had been waiting for. My wife and I had decided long before we ever had grandchilren that we would like to plant trees for each grandchild. When our first and so far only grandchild was born back in August of 2006, we began to again talk about that tree. We debated on whether to plant one at the time or to wait until our grandchild was old enough to help plant their own tree. As you can tell, we decided to wait until they could help.

That is where Korbin comes into the picture. He is a fiesty full of energy four year old boy that is 100 percent boy through and through. He loves anything to do with trucks, cars, balls, and you guessed it, dirt. His father and him were over at our house recently and the tree issue was brought up again and Korbin got very excited about getting to plant a tree. Of course it was about eight o'clock at night so we told him that when he was over some Saturday that we would plant it. That brings us to yesterday. My wife had told my son and his wife that she would watch Korbin because they were both busy with work and a trip, so she had Korbin since early Saturday morning. By the time I drug in at almost four o'clock, JeaBee was ready for a break. I am still not sure if she put him up to it or if he just remembered, but the minute I hit the door, he was talking about planting our tree.

So we loaded up in Granddaddy's old pickup and we were off to town to find a tree. We had decided long ago that we wanted Korbin's tree to be a pecan tree because we do not have one and we wanted it to reflect Texas. We found ourselves at a small local nursery where everybody knows everybody and we told the gentleman what we were up to, so he helped us pick out a Choctaw Pecan Tree. With tree in hand we were now well on our way. When we returned home, we raided my shed for all of the necessary tools to complete the task. Korbin with his little shovel and Granddaddy with his sharpshooter, we began to dig this hole. I really thought that he would grow tired of this and wander off to go play, but he stayed extremely focused and insisted on not only helping to dig the hole but to also fill in back in when it was time. So there we were two little boys out digging a hole on the back corner of the yard to plant a tree that would forever tie the two of us together. My wife came out to check on us and Korbin told her that this was Korbin and Granddaddy's tree and that we were going to watch it grow and that one day we would be able to climb on it. He clearly had grand allusions about what this tree would be, but that is ok, so did I. With the tree finally planted the tools put away, Korbin went in to get his Saturday night bath at JeaBee's house and Granddaddy went to get his camera.

The photos are not spectacular, and for now, niether is the tree but one day I believe that it will be. A memory was created today that will always be there. For years to come, even after I am gone, Korbin will be able to look at that tree and say "I remember the day that me and Granddaddy planted that tree". I know I will always look at it and remember that day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dirt Therapy????

Garden Therapy

I reached into the loose earth and I scooped it up in my hands and I drew it towards me just so that I might pull those strong earthy smells into my very being. Perhaps that sounds crazy to you, but to me it was a wonderful therapeutic session. Please allow me to explain.

The Winter is at that point where you can finally feel her beginning to loosen her grip and the weather the last week has been beautiful. The problem is that I have enjoyed it mostly by looking at it through my office window, not by being out in it. But yesteday, I decided come what may, I was going to be out in my yard doing something. Winter being the finicky lady that she is decided to give me plenty of clouds and no sunshine and a slightly cool breeze, but I was determined to enjoy it if it killed me.

I am not an avid gardner by any means, but I do enjoy a good excuse to be outside and a garden is a wonderful excuse. I have my herb garden and several flower beds and a small vegetable garden. I have been preparing the soil as time allowed for I knew the planting season was coming and finally this weekend it was time for the potatoes and onions to go into the ground. That brings me to where you came in with me scooping the earth and soaking up the aroma that it was producing as I worked with it.

If you have never had a garden or flowerbed, then you will probably not understand. There is just something about the smell and the feel of the soil that I like. It was soft and gentle under my hand and cool to the touch but it had that smell. That strong earthy smell that held  me captive. So there I am on my knees in my garden running my hands through the soil simply enjoying the moment and it happened. I never even saw it coming. I was suddenly at peace with all things and all people. There were no problems that needed my immediate attention. There were no concerns at work. There were no problems in the entire world for just a brief moment in time. There was just me all by myself on my knees, enjoying one of God's most basic creations.

If you understand, then good. If you do not, then what is it that makes the world and all of the problems that it brings disappear for you? I hope that you understand what I am saying. My intent was simply to say that for me personally, I needed to find that thing that turned the constantly whirling side of my mind off and allowed me just to exist if only for a few moments.

As the day conlcluded, I went in and washed away all signs of the soil that I had so enjoyed working with. No dirt under my nails, no dirt on my knees, no sign anywhere of what I had been doing. Except for the contented look that was now on my face and the slight stoop from a back that was reminding me that I am growing older and not younger.