June 14, 2014

Declaration.....

..... if you can read the Declaration of Independence without getting a tear in your eye then there is something very wrong with you and your understanding of American History.....

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May 11, 2014

Headlights....

..... this past semester at college was an interesting one....... in spite of irritating my communist American History II professor, I still managed to pull a 91 for a final grade, and I found a laughingly large amount of satisfaction in that particular A....... but the most fun, unexpectedly, was in Music Appreciation.......

.... for our final "project" we had to write the final chapter of our text book and submit it for grading...... each chapter focused on a song, the melody, the lyrics, the tempo, the timbre, etc.... and we were asked to pick a song that we enjoyed and analyze it musically......... I, of course, chose a song that I listen to almost daily and that most folks have probably never even heard...... my professor certainly hadn't.... and she teaches music!......

.... anyway, I awoke this drowsy Sunday morning with lines from the fist verse of this song replaying over and over in my head for reasons that my age-addled mind cannot fathom........

"I sat on the porch without my shoes
And I watched the cars roll by
As the headlights raced
To the corner of the kitchen wall"


...... when I was growing up I lived at the wooded end of a dead-end street...... prior to the 911 adjustment of the road naming convention it was called Addison Switch Road...... now, of course, it is the much less interesting "County Road 511"..... personally, I like Addison Switch much better, but the public's safety must be maintained for the Greater Good..... and bureaucrats do so love their tidy numbered streets.....

..... when darkness fell, it was dark....... there was no traffic on my childhood road after lights out..... there were never any "headlights racing to the corner of the kitchen wall"....... that is, with the exception of the summer nights that I spent with my Great Uncle Robert and my Great Aunt Louise...... Robert owned a large, sprawling farm in the town of Madisonville where he grew acres upon acres of tobacco every summer....... and my cousins and I were drafted each summer to swell the ranks of his makeshift army of workers to harvest it......

..... although his farmland stretched deep into the countryside, his tiny farmhouse say just beside a fairly busy road beneath three enormous and ancient maple trees..... the road was always quite busy by my dead-end standards, and cars would pass by at least every ten minutes or so......

.... after working in the fields for him all day in the hot sun, we would come home for dinner..... and I would spend the night sleeping on the sofa in his living room wrapped in a tufted old afghan that Louise had crocheted....... or a hand-pieced quilt that her mother had quilted 75 years before I was born....... and as I would begin to fall asleep I would hear the approach of a car........ zipping down the old country road in front of their house.... and as the sound of the tires on the tarmac crunched louder and louder I would open my eyes and stare at the ceiling........ humming, humming, humming along, and then the light...... bright, all at once...... a sliver of light in the corner of the living room on the ceiling...... slowly sliding across the wall...... past the recliner..... downwards..... and into the kitchen...... and then the rush as it slipped up the hall and out the other window........

.... the car had passed....... and soon, I fell asleep exhausted.......

.... my teacher seemed to enjoy my choice of song even though she had no clue who John Prine was...... sometimes education flows both ways, I guess....... and we students can enrich our mentors as much as they do us........

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April 29, 2014

Slowly....

.....she looked up from the hammock as I stood nearby holding a glass of wine, "is that tree dead", she said in a concerned sort of way....... I slowly wheeled around and paced towards the tree as the April sunlight sifted through the leaves.....

... "no, it is quite fine..... far from dead...... it is just a slick-bark hickory.".......

........ "but it doesn't have any leaves", she said as she arose from the back yard hammock...... "everything else is budding....".....

.. "well, that is the nature of things.... this is the strongest tree in North America... the hardest wood, the slowest growing, the tree from which tool handles are made because of its toughness.... this is an American hickory..".....

..... "so, if it is so tough, why do all the other trees have a jump on it this spring?".....

... "well, it is a question of survival, see?..... Frosts can come in the spring.... snow, even.. the weather can be unpredictable in the early part of the year...... those foolish trees that sprout leaves and buds early can be crippled for a season by an early frost if their leaves get nipped..... so some trees decide to hold back and take their time...... and make sure that the coast is truly clear before they place their yearly bet on life."......

..... "so this tree is waiting on purpose?".....

.."yeah, in a way, that is exactly it..... it is a hickory..... hey, remember when I told you that Andrew Jackson was called 'Old Hickory'?..... well, that was a huge compliment..... it meant that he was tough, strong, quiet, conservative, enduring, and just all-around bad ass."..........

.... "we are still talking about trees, right?"......

.. "of course!..... but, look....... you can watch the trees in the springtime and judge their character if you look closely enough...... see the poplar?.... two weeks into spring and it already is covered in green.... that is because it is a chancer... it rolls the dice and sprouts as quickly as it can....... a frost could stunt it for a season but it is willing to risk it... it grows fast, throws its leaves out there to grab as much sunlight as it can, and it is soft because of it....."

..... "soft?...... how is a poplar soft?"...

..... "the wood, I mean.... the wood is soft...... now, look at that maple, see?.... it is not far behind the poplar.......now, let your eyes wander through the trees and tell me what you see....... see the little leaves on the sweet gum there?..... and how the dogwood may have blooms but no actual foliage?....... those are all indications of how each species lives life....... how hardy they are...... the late bloomers are the ones who are the most cautious..".......

....."so, a poplar grows quick, is first to sprout its greenery, and is the softest wood?...." .....

.... "yep, that is right...... so, as you see the trees back here, you can tell which are the survivors and which are the ones who are the gamblers, right?"......

.... "yeah, I suppose....... the ones with no leaves yet are still hedging their bets, right"....

.... "exactly.... and they are the slowest growing, they have the hardest wood, and they will live the longest."......

......."wow....... damn, you are weird....... fetch me another glass of wine before the next botany lesson, yes?......

... "not a problem.... I will be here all week.."....

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