Archive for November, 2008

Patience

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , , on November 29, 2008 by rodzink

I got out of the truck and, before I realized it, I was several miles from where I had parked… The Cumberland Trail….. from Signal Mountain, it’s an incredibly beautiful stretch of trail.  Like the first scene of an action movie, the initial mile is enough to ensure more of the same…. and keep me walking…. watching subsequent scenes unfold….

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The river below seemed to be flowing upstream… the wind out of the gorge was steady.  Looking west into an infinite sky…. I began replaying a thousand episodes of my life… scenes that I had neither hoped were forever lost…..nor wanted to keep… Perhaps they were waiting for me on this day, like friendly, heckling ghosts…. stored for days like this…Nevertheless, my backpack seems to have an endless supply and they seem to simply spill out as I walk.  I deliberately slowed my pace.  Besides, I had no destination….no schedule.  I was not, however, alone….Memories are often the crying coyote from the darkness…  With each rustle of leaves, I heard Baker’s voice…. Belle’s footsteps…..  their first words…. and the the most recent…. A snap of a twig…. or the uncertainties of tomorrow…. I am unable to discern… unable to put it away. 

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The coyote is an amazing creature…often said to be responsible for the earth’s creation…  When I was younger, growing up in these mountains, coyotes were stories of the west…. I recall hearing tales of their subtle, expanding population… and that first sighting.  I believe all creatures have a deeper purpose… a symbolic existence….. I’ve heard many, many times… the yelping, coyote’s cry… a mournful, lonely tempo….. as morning approaches, she exhausts the troubles of her soul…. until night comes again…. She spends her day absorbing…gathering.. becoming our surety… only to take these thoughts…. memories….. to deepest ravines and hidden crevices…. she cries on our behalf… her cries are not her own.  It is without surprise that the coyote represents the fastest growing mammal population in North America….  Her habitat reaches both shores and she has been spotted on the western plains… in Central Park… in the River Gorge…. wherever she is needed. www.rodzink.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/the-coyote

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I have brought my offering to lay aside the creek…  Today.. I know the coyote is at rest……  beneath the boulders…… in the shade of the hemlock…..  But I have brought her a feast….

Thankful

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , , on November 28, 2008 by rodzink
Early this morning, Belle sat in her bed… writing… She had managed to write her declaration of Thanksgiving.  I didn’t change her spelling, punctuation, etc….  It’s simply written.  Perhaps, she understands in her own 8 year old way, the simplicity of being thankful. 
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It was an interesting weekend… Cold.  We snuggled beneath blankets in the darkness… talking.  Spent some time off the mountain in North Chattanooga… riding bikes, cardboarding, eating ice cream.  Dinner at the MudPie with friends closed with karaoke.  Belle and, friend, Kit brought the house down….  Then, Baker made his surprising debut.  Just the fact that he entered a song, made it to the mic, and sang shocked me.  I am not typically in need of spotlight and he is certainly a wallflower… but he sang….  The music began and I sat.. anxiously awaiting….. 
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When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comforts me, speaking words of wisdom… Let It Be…. Baker sang….  every word…. His sweet voice… those big brown eyes….  The part that no one realized is that this is my favorite song… and he knows it….  Shine Until Tomorrow… As relaxing as the melody may be… the message is mine… I sing it often… out loud… in the truck… with the kids.  There will be an answer…. Let It Be…  When he finished, he simply walked back to our table and sat next to me… We smiled at each other… He knows me well enough to recognize our special moments… I know him well enough to see that he was proud of himself…. 
The History of Thanksgiving can be debated…  Deutoronomy 26 records the first of which I’m aware…  Closer to home, the actual first documented celebration was not, however, held at Plymouth Rock, but in St. Augustine, FL some 100 years prior to the traditional Pilgrims’ feast.  Regardless of the purpose, the foundation of our gratitude, the means of individual celebration… or the age old question… Turkey or Ham?…….  Thanksgiving is from the hearts of thankful folk… to a faithful God…..  I’m learning… I’m experiencing “Thankfulness”…. each day…  When I wake up in the morning and hear those sweet voices…… when I realize my kids are healthy……  when I spend a quiet evening with Meri…..when I’m reminded that God has returned my soul to me….  when my siblings make me laugh until my sides split…..  when my son can sing…..and my little girl can put her kind thoughts to paper………… I can, and will, be thankful. 
 
 Belle’s words:
I am thankful for the lord because the lord is nice and thankful for us, I’m thankful becaus the lord gave us food and drinks and some poeple don’t have that so we help poeple in need.  I am glad the lord made us for all the the things we done.  I want to help poeple all my life to give them all they need to help them stay helphey and stay active.  for all they need.  When poeple are sick I want to help them all I can.  To get what they need and what I need.

The Butterfly Effect

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , , on November 19, 2008 by rodzink

The honeysuckles were covered in butterflies…. Swallowtails, I have heard them called…..  the kids….well…er….uh…. Okay… I tried to catch one for the kids….  a beautiful sight, I’m certain… a grown man, chasing butterflies… Often, while hiking, I cannot help but question the existence of many things… the thorns on blackberry bushes…. seed ticks….  Butterflies…..  overlooked,  long-distance migratory creatures. 

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Many years ago, a theory was developed which, in summary, stated that the single wisp of a butterfly’s wing could alter the wind… or atmospheric activity around the globe.  Subsequently, in laboratory studies, the theory was proven…. I suppose. An interesting theory, though… To think that a subtle, and seemingly insignificantly minute wisp of air, could start a reaction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect

In the South, I think we refer to this as “ripples on a pond” from a single splash….  I grew up fishing and frog giggin’… I understand the need to slip into the water without sending alarming waves to the other shore….and.. so I wonder….  what impact… what ripples will these kids make on their ponds….  What of their footsteps?  The paths they choose…. LIke the diverse plant-life of the gorge, I also ponder the existence of these children….. the paths they choose.

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 Meanwhile, we are responsible for filling their minds with the tools they will need…. the ones that they will recall for their own journeys……  love… compassion…. tolerance…patience….. respect… a nurtured conscience. One day, they’ll look back on their experiences and not stumble blindly into their next step.  We may be looking into the eyes of our future doctors, teachers, politicians, writers, construction workers…….  These are the ones that will hike the trails of their youth….  dance around the fires we’ve sparked….  hold the hands of our grandchildren… provide the love of our hearts……  Our time is short…. we have work to do….  hands to hold….. stories to tell…. memories to create. Yes, perhaps I romanticize my responsibility.. perhaps, I just take it seriously…. or.. just wish to ensure they walk through life feeling as though their dad tried with all his might.

Go… change the direction of the winds…. alter the course of a hurricane….

Southern Slopes…. Cardboardin’ Kids

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , on November 13, 2008 by rodzink

 cardboarding-0041The slopes… the bermuda grass rapidly turning brown as cool weather sets in for the next few months.  The likelihood of snow is slim…  Typically, our small chance for snow doesn’t come until February..or even March.  Even then, it’s not much for which to brag… or anticipate.  Nevertheless, a steep hill and a couple of cardboard boxes and the kids take me back to the mid-70’s. 

 I did a great deal of “backspacing” here….  Started writing about resourcefulness… imagination…. physical play….  But it only obscured the memory of this day…  I don’t want to muddy the laughter in my head with my own words….. 

Baker…. Belle…..  Cannot wait to hit the slopes again….. 

 

 

 

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Reflecting… November

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2008 by rodzink

The brilliant reds and yellows….  The mountainside bursting in color, previously hidden in lush green, showcased her seasonal best… We focus on the colors dancing on an autumn breeze, yet forgetting that this is the last dance.  Soon…  in a matter of days…   Barren branches will stand naked.. exposed…. the core of the proud hickories, great oaks, sycamores…. alone with neither decoration nor mask….

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We meandered the trail along the rim of the River Gorge.  The kids climbed the boulders, picked up leaves, scraped back bark to expose bugs.  Baker skirted the trail and our whereabouts…always just out of sight.  I watched him scale boulders, squeeze into crevices, and hide behind whatever he could find.  Belle stayed close… talking nonstop to me…..  Watching my own children, I dare not try and understand their thoughts and attitudes…..  I just wanted to hike… 

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We stopped occasionally along the trail….. resting….  taking in the view…. talking.  The voices of these little ones….. Their words… laughter and complaint….. disappointment and desire…..sadness and joy… their words expose them.  As they grow, seasons of growth are simply part of life….. episodes of emotional and mental growth…. and then, seasonal shedding of that which is no longer needed… the safety nets, the unnecessary…..  left behind on this trail.  They’ll keep walking, however….. new opportunities to grow await them…. us….  Nevertheless, we’ll stick together….  learn….  together.

Although we cannot see it…..  instinctively, we know she is waiting.. Beneath this dark soil…. dormant… hybernating….. poised.. Spring is coming, proving that amidst this cold, harsh, routine, she…. we… have the strength to endure.  Her innate knowledge…. the ebb and flow of life…  the seasons which pass us all… provides us with the opportunity to grow, experience, understand the nature of our world.  It is only here that we can enjoy the anticipation of budding blooms… seasons of lush green… the brilliance of temporary color….  the cold days of uncertainty… But at our core, we discover the strength and the character that is only visible when the leaves fall….. when we stand exposed.

Samhain

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , on November 2, 2008 by rodzink

I sat beside our small fire in the yard, roasting hotdogs before we set out to “Trick-or-Treat.”  Staring into the fire, I tried to imagine the festivities of 2000 years ago…  Pagans.. dressed up in animal skins and devil decor…  commemorating the dead and attempting to predict one another’s future.  The tradition has changed over the centuries by the Romans (bobbing for apples to remind us of Pomona) then again by Pope Boniface (putting a twist on a Pagan belief to give it a Christian purpose)… It fascinates me how this tradition has survived….. Ultimately, the consideration of souls has been lost…. Today, for the kids, it’s all about the candy. For me, it’s all about the kids.

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The Hippie and the Ghost

Our tradition…  hotdogs..hayrides……. I watched them put on their costumes.. listened to them giggle… they’ve anticipated this night.  This is one of my favorite traditions…  driving the tractor or the 4-wheeler, watching the kids climb in and out of the trailer, spilling candy…..  hearing their laughter as they play with friends and family.

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 We stopped and talked to a couple along the way… they meandered the sidewalks of Old Town… They admitted that their children had grown up and were no longer the age of participation…  one of autumn’s tragedies, I assume.  As I pulled the kids along, I considered the future of our Halloween tradition.  One day, it will be a memory and our celebration will change, just as it has for centuries. Certainly, we will adapt. They will grow up… I will figure out how to let them…  What traditions will survive in the lives of these kids? For now, however, our traditions will continue…. 

 When the night ended, we returned home… warmed up in blankets….  sifted through mounds of candy…  The kids fell asleep….  Perhaps predicting the future is possible, as the Celts believed… perhaps….