Archive for March, 2009


Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , on March 23, 2009 by rodzink

Billowing clouds… tumbleweed of the gods.. rolled aimlessly.. with neither origin nor destination.  Soon, they would disappear beyond another horizon… as numerous times before today…  the unnoticed vagabond.. yesterday’s stranger… tomorrow’s forgotten memory..

 Yet, with anxious eyes on the western sky.. anticipating that which may appear unnanounced over the mountains… arriving in a variety of character…. I hope the wind ceases… if only for a season.

Spring has come and brought forth the dormant spoils of summer.. rebirth..necessary growth.  The time has come to rebuild… revisit…. bolster… embedded in a newly discovered source of nutrient.


The tulips revealed promise… perhaps they will open today.  Our steps have been deliberate as to not disrupt them as they struggled to the surface… finding sunlight and breathing new life… Patience… Tolerance… Care…. We are but caretakers here.. of these fertile prospects…….

Spring Break

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , , , , , on March 23, 2009 by rodzink

Baker struck the magnesium rod… Repeatedly, he scraped and sparks flashed.  Over and over again….. until, eventually, a small flame appeared on the fine lint.  The small flame continued to the leaves… then to the tiny sticks…. Baker had built a fire….  without matches.  We had arrived at our base camp, or so aptly entitled after four days in the tent, cooking over our timid fire and resisting the unrelenting rain that settled in each night…. Hobo Camp.




Weeks prior, we stretched out trail maps and watched the weather forecasts, then agreed on March, Friday 13th.  Our crue of seven, a seemingly lucky number, would certainly dismiss the superstitions of the departure. 


Reflecting now on the four days of rain, it was a perfect trip.




Abrams Falls:


From a nearby boulder, I could make out the reflective silver of spinners.  Baker, opened the bell, slipped his forefinger over the line and gently placed the lure across the pool into the rocks just below the surface. Watching him cast and reel…  the roar of the adjacent falls would have certainly overwhelmed any audible conversation… if there had been any. I’m a firm believer that some of us have a kinship with the ground beneath our feet.  The mountains, a path out of civilization, a small canoe encapsulated in the Gorge, or a trout stream far from the stress of life…..  spring-break-119



It’s not the ability to endure a moment outdoors… or catch fish… build a fire…. suffer through a cold night on the ground…  It’s the calm that becomes noticeable…. obvious… in an otherwise unsettled spirit.  This is my son…. I’ve witnessed this transformation… so many times as his little soul has befriended these surroundings. His silence is settling.  I remember when he was a toddler… nestled in a carry-pack… we walked the woods.  He never flinched at the sound of a rifle…. I purposely walked near the poplars and oaks so he could reach out and touch them. 


He fished and, although he will not discover this for years…. He is learning about life… perhaps, living life at this moment… Perhaps, he’ll discover early that we are not here, far from everything, to escape our lives… The stuff we manage on a typically routine basis… the headaches… the conflicts… the schedules… should not define us or consume us.  These things can wait…  I want my children to enjoy living… not simply endure it.









West Prong River:


The trail skirted the steep mountainside.  In and out of ravines and pockets.  The morning rain had turned this Appalachian landscape into a lush green, seemingly sub-tropical, panorama.  Scattered among the vast forest floor, Trillium, poised to showcase her magnificent yellow flowers, grew sporadically.  Mushrooms…. Bloodroot.  Rhododendron so dense that it completely blocked the scenery in several places.


The girls, often bursting with laughter and song of questionable origin, passed the time with child-like ease. Without complaint of sudden rainfall or the muddy West Prong Trail, they crossed creeks and fallen timber, until the unmistakable sound of the river and the subtle rising mist allowed us to drop our packs and rest. 


Baker and Hal immediately vanished into the laurel upstream with rods and flies.  The girls began a redundant episode of creek crossings.  Finding trees and rocks, I watched the three, leap… crawl… balance….  Gracefully, at times… At times, not so much… they lined up to cross the shallows.


Somewhere higher in the mountains, tributaries… springs… small pools… began the downward journey.  The river… clear… cold… I could easily make out the rocks on the bottom.  Throughout history, monumental events took place at crossings.  As far back as time and myth have been recorded….  Moses, trapped by his oppressors, led the exodus across a parted sea, on dry land… the baptismal muddy waters of the deep South…  a revolutionary Washington crossing in the fog to surprise the tyrannical British army…  the Chickamauga, so labeled by the Cherokee as the “River of Blood” after a brutal North/South skirmish. The Rio Grande… the river Styx… the basket in the Nile.



I have crossed many rivers… yet the distant thunder of falling rushing water can always be heard by the strained ear.  There are more watery encounters at the base of the next ravine…  The girls reached out, helping each other… a few missteps… a slippery rock… brief moments of discomfort…  We shall all stand and gaze at opposite shores as we prepare to combat a surpringinly swift current… Life offers no droughts… no deficits when she hands out obstacles… The girls made it to the other side… wet boots and all. 



Tomorrow’s Rubble…..

Posted in Where Angels Perch with tags , , , on March 4, 2009 by rodzink

The wind forced me from the brow’s edge and up into the rocks. Finding temporary shelter in a series of caves… Dropping my pack to rest, I noticed the ceiling was covered with dark stains from ancient fires… Attempting to imagine the scene… I wondered what life brought to these native people… their struggles… happiness… Nestled beneath heavy fur and handworked leather… Quietly listening to the sounds of the fire and the wind outside the protection of this hollowed shelter.

I missed the laughter of my children…of recent companionship…both are embedded in my soul….  I find comfort in these solitary steps… passing the hours… the days….
The Gorge, Williams’ Island, Moccasin Bend, the fields that stretch across Lookout Valley, the huge rock overhangs scattered across Signal Mountain… indigenous people from long ago…. Their lives somehow absorbed into these mountains and fertile valleys.. only remnants remain for chance discovery….
What of their saga? Their steps are solely remembered by the ground on which they walked.. their hands touched these very boulders… How many young men traversed the swift water… scaled the steep canyon… stood on these same brows… and focused on the empty horizon… searching… Wherever they are now, I can only hope they are accompanied by their memories.
The wind carried their souls from the canyon long ago… leaving their bodies to this earth. Somewhere in this expanse… between their souls’ perch and this rich soil… their lives, possessions, and efforts…remain. And..yet, we learn nothing and continue in futile and relentless pursuit… in their same steps….. striving to fill this place with tomorrow’s rubble.. mere remnants… stained overhangs from our campfires and profligate lives..

Small flames danced from the dried sticks.. producing embers and smoke… I watched it slowly rise and hover against the top of the cave.. then the draft reached in.. drawing the smoke towards the opening of the cave… and it was gone…drifting towards an infinite…awaiting sky.


Awake early… the little faces nestled under my arms… are gone for a couple of days… They are growing up so fast… Sitting in each of their rooms…  gazing at their artwork…. toys…. books….  our small home… these precious memories…. and this rich fertile soil.