And He Did

Dad was diagnosed with cancer on April 21, but I had the feeling he was sick the week before. About the same time that my gut began to tighten, the huge oak tree fell at my studio. As soon as I saw it, I knew my father was about to take on his last challenge and that it would probably prove too much for him.

And it was.

He crossed over to be with Mama on Memorial Day. He fought a tough, pain-filled battle for over a month and did so with the same dignity, strength and determination that guided his 94 years in this dimension.

Curtis Avery, Jr. had a great life — one that most of us can only dream of experiencing.

He was married to his sweetheart for almost 61 years and spent a lifetime doing what he loved — raising cattle and taking care of the land.

He was a conservationist long before it was in vogue. He believed that “none of us own land. We are simply stewards of what God has given us to take care of. We are supposed to leave it better than we found it.”

And he did.

In the weeks and months to come, I will share more of his stories with you. His ability to weave a good tale and keep his audience completely absorbed were great gifts. And I will try my best to do them justice.

But today, in his memory, I post again what the old tree said to me.

Said the Old Tree

“I got tired and fell,” said the very old tree,

“but I knew that it was time for me

“To return to the arms of sweet Mother Earth —

the loving one who gave me birth

“From an acorn that fell 200 years ago,

or could it have been 100 more?

“I do believe I lost track of time

during this long and fruitful life of mine.

“Standing majestic, straight, strong and tall

against the storms of spring and the winds of fall.

“Until that day I started to bend

and could no longer resist what I knew was the end.

“So I laid down to rest on the ground from whence I came,

not caring that I will never be the same.

“For another will sprout from my decayed bones,

and keep my eternal spirit from being alone.”

April 10-17, 2016

View image on Twitter

 

 

 

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Said the Old Tree

We lost another old friend down at the studio. I noticed she was leaning to the left just a few days before it happened. I am quite certain another will grow in her place, and the wood will make for many good fires in the wood stove.

Still, I hate to see her go.

Herein follows a poem in honor of all those we don’t want to lose:

studio tree down

 

Said the Old Tree

“I got tired and fell,” said the very old tree,

but I knew that it was time for me

“To return to the arms of sweet Mother Earth —

the loving one who gave me birth

“From an acorn that fell 200 years ago,

or could it have been 100 more?

“I do believe I lost track of time

during the long and fruitful life of mine.

“Standing majestic, straight, strong and tall

against the storms of spring and the winds of fall.

“Until that day I started to bend

and could no longer resist what I knew was the end.

“So I laid down to rest on the ground from whence I came,

not caring that I will never be the same.

“For another will sprout from my decaying bones,

and keep my eternal spirit from ever being alone.”

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Lake Painting

…a little lake poetry to help you maneuver the venomous, political waters that surround us.

Lake Painting

The pre-dawn fog colored the watery landscape silver-grey…

…a backdrop for the dark, bare trees as graceful as the strokes on an ancient Japanese painting.

Their branches bulged with impregnated pods,

And shiny black birds illuminated the mist, soaring toward the canvas’ edge.

Lake painting

A coral ribbon shimmered above the Western horizon,

Signaling the entrance of a giant orb in the East.

Within minutes, the scene morphed into a Monet motif…

…soft blues that melted into the subtle greens of pines and cedars which threw their images on the water’s surface.

And then its life was gone – nature’s masterpiece that lasts only minutes, but, like love,       lives in our hearts for eternity.

2/29/16

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Harmony Light

It’s worse than ever…our suspicion of one another, our fear of one another, and our hatred for one another.

Those who could make a difference fan the flames. Those who profit from the division rake in the profits.

You’d think we would learn from our mistakes. Or at least  listen to the prophets, past and present, who remind us that our perceived differences are just that — perceived.

But, no. We continue down the road of persecution and self-destruction.

I wrote this poem over 20 years ago and I share it in honor of the lawmakers — especially those in my home state of Georgia — who insist on passing laws that condone discrimination.

And I can also say without hesitation, shame on all of you. May you reap exactly what you sow.

 

Harmony Light

A trillion stars that always shine

The light they are and never whine

About the cloud or moon nearby

That has a shape, a glow, a line,

That puts them in a different place

On the dark and vast celestial face.

Knowing that each in its own way

Will add to the beauty of night and day.

Never competing to be the best,

But shine in harmony with the rest –

To create a picture of beautiful light

That cries silent tears, while we wage the fight.

Fretting over and doubting those near

Whom we don’t understand and choose to fear.

Not stopping to listen to the song

That the silent heavens have sung for so long.

They never compete to be the best,

But shine in harmony with the rest.

Star, cloud, moon, and light –

Different shapes and lines in the night.

Content to be in their own special place

On the dark and vast celestial face.

 

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Listen To The Old Store Speak

The lights in the left front store window looked like they had fallen. Now the symmetry was off. And I don’t like crooked.

“Damn. I need to go over there and fix that,” I said aloud to myself. And there was a time when I would have.

I re-opened my grandmother’s general  store in 1984 and worked alone there many nights. After the babies were asleep, I could clean, sort, price and merchandise without interruption. It was alone time…just my English springer spaniel, Bean Dog, and me. There was very little traffic at night at the Crossroads. It was quiet. And all young mothers relish the quiet.DSC03212

The old store smelled the same as it did when I was kid. I could almost taste the Johnnie Cakes and Nu-Grapes. I could see Granny Lois standing in front of the fireplace  — backed up to the open flame as close as she could get, with her dressed hiked up just enough to get some extra warmth and still be modest.

Working over there in the solitude was like stepping into the past. Back then, the store was the Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram feed for the community. Most of the women with children — including my mama — would meet there in the afternoons and “post, share and comment.” We kids played like dirt road heathens…which we were. Educated and well-mannered dirt road heathens, mind you, but still heathens.

But now, times are different. Things have changed. Last evening, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a steady stream of traffic flowing through the intersection. I’m pretty gutsy but I’m also cautious. I constrantly admonish my grown children to be careful up there in the ATL: “Lock your car doors as soon as you get in. Don’t walk alone anywhere after dark. And nothing good happens after midnight.” They’ve heard it thousands of times. So, I knew I had no business going over there and screwing around with Christmas lights. “It’ll have to wait until tomorrow, ” I sighed.

Stuff changes, my friends. Affections change. Jobs change. Life changes. Reality hits and in order to survive, sometimes we must also change.

Does it hurt?

Sure. But anytime we improve, it hurts.

Getting stronger physically hurts. Start working out and see what you feel.

And getting stronger emotionally and mentally hurts, too. But it’s worth it.

The alternative to moving forward is staying stuck in the past — a dimension that has already occurred and will never exist again. We can’t get it back and if we did, we’d exchange something very precious for it — the present — a dimension that is full of all the previous joy we want to remembert and void of the pain we are free to forget.

The old store has graced the corners s at Jones Crossroads, Ga., for 113 years. She is full of a wonderful past and ready for what the future brings.

But above all, she revels in the present.

Just as we all should do.

 

 

 

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The Media Made Me Do It

Google “It’s Social Media’s Fault” and see what happens.

Do a tally on how many studies have been conducted on “problems caused by social media.”

Read the headlines  any day of the week and you’ll find a story detailing a tragedy allegedly linked to social media.

Listen to the politicians complain. According to the professional whiners, traditional media — aided by their bastard offspring, social media — make them sound stupid and dishonest.

But I beg to differ.

Just like a mirror doesn’t make us look fat, the media do not make us look like buffoons and sound like liars.

Neither does social media force people to pretend to be something they aren’t. Some folks are fake. And they come by their dishonesty quite honestly — they learned it.

And I’m not sold on the idea that social media cause loneliness, depression, insecurity and anxiety. Research has found that using the platforms in excess can definitely make those symptoms worse…just like consuming alcohol and drugs in excess can exacerbate one’s mental state. But our demons live inside us. And external forces just lure them out.

But while we look for people, institutions and substances to blame for what we do and say, we leave out the most obvious one…ourselves. We are responsible for our screw-ups and our falsehoods…not Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Or Snapchat. Or CNN. Or The New York Times.

The media do not make us do it.

Anymore than the devil does.

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“Brother, This As Far As You Are Going.”

If my mom were alive, she and dad would be closing in on their 70th wedding anniversary. And this story was one of their favorites.

Dad is knocking on 94 years young now — we made this video three years ago when I was in grad school and he was “only” 91. My CSU students are working on their vlogger skills so I thought I would hit the share button again.

Everyone should be as adored as my mama was. Hope you enjoy.

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