Tangier People, Places, And Food

Stepping off the ferry onto Tangier was like taking a step back in time. We welcomed the slow pace and absence of internet and cell phone service. The locals do have internet, but limited cell service. We shut ours off, and enjoyed the serenity.

I had made reservations at Shirley’s Bay View Inn. When I made them a few weeks prior to our stay, I was surprised that they did not take a deposit or credit card number. In fact, I was a bit concerned whether I still had a reservation so I confirmed a few days prior to the trip. Shirley (the owner) took my call. She was helpful by offering information such as that there were no banks or ATM’s on the island. She said a few places accepted credit cards, but most only accepted cash or check. I had chosen this B&B (no hotels on the island) because it was the prettiest one and offered a choice of a cabin. It was also the only one that offered internet, even though I had agreed to leave my laptop behind. It was agood thing, the internet had been taken out. Our cell phones did not work (text or call) from that side of the island, but we did see teens on the other side of the island texting like crazy!

Wallace is Shirley’s husband. His granfather built this home in 1904. Wallace restored in in 1995, and added two cabins at a time on each side of the house. I think they now have three rooms in the house and five cabins with porches (ten total)  on each side of the house. Shirley runs the house, and Wallace maintains the grounds. It is by far the prettiest house on the island. They yard has several decks and gazebo like places to sit and take in the view. Every where you turn there is a porch swing, glider, or some sort of  whimsical statue, and all is surrounded by a white picket fence. The grounds are charming and immaculate. There are three B&B’s on the island. One is closer to where you unload at the dock and the other is closer to the beach area. This one is midway which worked out perfectly for us.

Wallace met us at the ferry in his passenger/luggage carrier golf cart. He told us about the island and all the great places to eat on our way across the island to the house where his wife Shirley promptly checked us in and delivered us to our room. They were gracious hosts. They are truly good people, honest and personable. We enjoyed our conversations with them. It’s like any small town where everybody knows not only your name but your business. Each morning, we were served a plentiful homestyle breakfast. Our waitress (and she may have prepared the food as well but I’m not sure) was a very sweet woman named Linda. She met us with a delightful smile each morning. It was kind of like going to your next door neighbor’s house for coffee. Except we had way more than coffee. We were served family style in the dining area. We were fed unlimited amounts of  home cooked bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, sliced cheese, fried potatoes, french bread toast, strawberry preserves, juice, and coffee. The family style service gave us the opportunity to meet and talk with other guests.

The beaches are pristine. We rode our rental bikes over once, and we met three people leaving as we got there. We were the only ones there the entire time. The second time, we stopped on our kayak trip. We were the only ones there again. As we were returning we met three kayakers closer inland.

I think we encountered one fishing boat from this beach end and saw one private plane fly out and another land on the airstrip.

 Methodism seems to be the island religion. I think they have services on Wednesday night and Sunday. Everything on the island closes early. There is a History Museum and Interpretive Cultural Center. This is a very intersting. It offers insight to the Tangier people and the history of the island. Apparently, the island is shrinking at the rate of about nine acres a year. There used to be a populated section that I think was called the Uppards. They removed many of those homes and stores and replaced them on the mainland and lifted and reinforced the bases of the buildings. 

This is a closer view of the lovely stained glass windows.

Their school consists of one large building called Tangiers Combined School which caters K-12. The school has about one hundred students enrolled, and the teacher -student ratio is 1/6. This is the school behind the water tower.

These are the adorable trashcans that are located at practically every corner. The island is practically litter-free, with the exception of anything that might have washed ashore.

This is Rufus, the island dog. He is owned by Ruby and her husband, the people that own the bike rentals. I saw a couple of other dogs and some cats. Our B&B had a cat named Tuna who mingled with the guests.

Tangier is a fishing island with the staple being crab. Their economy depends on tourism. With the exception of the restaurants, the businesses,three gift shops and museum shut down around four or four thirty. I’m not sure what time the grocery store closes. It resembles the little country grocery store in the small town I grew up in. The island buzzes alive about six as the locals gather in the streets for social time. They whip around on their golf carts and stop in the street to chat. Some of the locals are on bikes. Tourists can rent golf carts as well as bicycles. There is also a small library I believe is called Muddy Toes that you can go in a check out a book on the honor system.

This is a view of the island from the boat as we were leaving.

I don’t think we missed any of the island restaurants. On our first day, we had lunch at Lorraine’s. I have to tell you that we had planned on getting something light like a wrap until we caught a glimpse of what appeared to be sweet potato fries and crab salad. So, that is what we ordered. Hands down, the. absolute. best. crab. salad. EVER! In fact, I mentioned it to Linda (our waitress at Bay View Inn), and she has promised to email the recipe to me. She told me that their secret is that they remove everything but the white meat before steaming the crab. We had ice cream at a joint called Spankys. It was a nice little place that both locals and tourists congregate.

Our first night’s dinner was at Fisherman’s Corner. They were reviewed in the May ’05 issue of Soutern Living Magazine. They make a fabulous hot crab dip. Everything on the island has to be planned as their groceries are ordered and delivered by ferry. They were out of a few of the sides as groceries were due in the next day. I tried fried soft shell crab which I’d never had before except in sushi. It was incredible. I decided to try their crabcakes, already adamant that they could not be as good as my favorite crabcakes in my own town. Let’s say they were a very close second. They might be just as good, but they were different that the ones I am used to eating. However, I had ones at Hilda Crockett’s Chesapeake House that are absolutely as good and larger than the ones I love.

Now, let me tell you about the Chesapeake House. It is like having a Southern home cooked meal with the bonus of seafood. They serve you family style in a huge dining area. The serve from 11:30 am – 5:00 pm. The all you can eat menu consists of Chespeake Bay Crab Cakes (I swear they were almost as huge as baseballs!), Fried Clam Fritters (very rich), Virginia Baked Ham (a weakness of mine), Corn Pudding (absolutely melts in your mouth!), Green Beans (seasoned perfectly), Potato Salad (good and chunky), Coleslaw (the best I have EVER had, and I am really funny about my coleslaw, not many I really like!), Pickled Beets (surprised those were so yummy!), Applesauce (didn’t even try it…sorry), Homemade Rolls (heavenly, triangle pull-apart pieces baked in a round tin), Homemade Pound Cake (As good as my Aunts, but don’t tell her I said that!), Iced Tea and or Coffee. My only regret was that I was not hungry enough to actually pig out!!!! They had just finished serving a bus tour when we got there, and we were the only ones left in the entire dining hall. Those were some hard working ladies who cook, serve, and clean up.  That has to be an all day full time operation. I think that is the most popular place to eat, and I can see why. The B&B part of the business is directly across the street from the restaurant.

That night we watched the sunset as the ocean opened up and swallowed it. As we were leaving, the island was in a buzz preparing for ESPN3’s arrival that day to shoot a show about sports fans. And the B&B’s were preparing for the arrival of a ham radio convention and a kayak group. It has been a busy season for them which is good because they depend on eight months of the year to carry them through the four months that they are closed. Some of the locals relocate for the winter and some buckle down the hatches.

We loved our Tangier Island visit and plan to return in the Fall or Spring. Next week I’ll post about our kayak tour and trip to Chincoteague and Assateague.

Off To Tangier Island

We had to drive about an hour and a half to get to the ferry that would take us to Tangier Island. To ge to the dock, we had to cross a twenty-three mile bridge toll road that was connected by two tunnels and a high- rise bridge. We left very early (6:15 am) . We stopped for breakfast and coffee on our way. We were told to stop at Corner Bakery on Main Street in Onancock. Boy, are we glad we did.  We had these cinnamon pecan sweet rolls with honey glaze that were absolutely to die for!  And of course, we needed more coffee. We noticed a really pretty and historical looking Methodist church and stopped and grabbed the last brochure in the box. The church we were in awe of is the Historic Cokesbury Church. It happens to be listed on the Register of Historic Places and the The Virginia Landmarks Register. It turns out that we also have local ties to the clergy of it. Then while we were eating, we struck up a conversation with the lady at the next table. She was the Methodist pastor at Onancock and was not only friends with the pastor at Tangier Island but knew some of the same people we knew. Not sure if God was telling us something with that connection or not, but we enjoyed talking with her while we were wasting time for the boat to arrive. We had allowed much more travel time than needed, but we really weren’t sure how the traffic was going to be.

This is the small passenger ferry that took us to Tangier Island. Tangier is a small quaint fishing island in the Chesapeake Bay of Virginia. The islanders speak what many refer to as Elizabethan English, but it is really an English Restoration era dialect of American English. Some people claim it is more Cornish or Celtic. Their ancestors came from Scotland. At any rate, whatever it is called is interesting and charming.

This is the dock/marina where we boarded the ferry in Onancock, Virginia. They have much larger ferries that go to the island from larger cities. Those are the ones that also bring bus tours. There were around twenty- two people,including about three or four children, on this ferry trip.

This is our ferry Captain, Mark. He was kind, gentle natured, and considerate. He kept checking back to make sure everyone was fine and not getting too much sea spray. I was sitting at the rear enjoying a bit of the spray as it was extremely hot. I had failed to remember to spray down with my thirty sun protection prior to packing it, so I got a little pink. And I have to tell you I learned quickly that extreme heat, salty air, and curly hair equal one big frizzy mess. There was no point in  blow drying, straight ironing, or applying any frizz cream. I looked like a wild woman! Anyway, as the water was getting a bit rougher, Mark urged us to move in a bit so that we wouldn’t get soaked by the splashes.

See this chair that is toppled on the deck? That was the chair that I was sitting in until I moved. If you look closely, you will see that the handles are broken in half on both sides. No, it did not break with me in it. However, someone was in it. There was a really nice family of fourteen people. The Grandpa, who I must say didn’t look much older than Dirt Man and I, moved to the back of the boat and appeared to be enjoyed the salty breeze and spray hitting at him. I heard a crash, and turned to see this brute muscle man enveloped in a heap of the plastic chair. He jumped up and brushed himself off and got a good laugh over it. Everyone asked if he was ok, and he assured everyone he was fine. Brute Muscle Man came and sat beside me, and I looked down to see that his arm was gushing blood. He had a huge gash on his arm. But being the brute muscle man he was, he swore he was fine. Now, if I’d cut myself like that I’d have been whining in pain and also in embarrassment because that’s just how I roll.

This is Brute Muscle Man with his pretty wife, Kathy. And yes, he does have a name. It is Jerry. I just prefer to call him Brute Muscle Man because I tell you he was large and in charge. And by large, I mean muscles. Seriously, he looked like he could really kick some butt! He had a state police tatoo on his arm, and I’ll bet people he has arrested were too afraid to resist arrest! Check out the long cut on his left arm. Jerry was actually such a good sport he posed for a picture holding up the chair…and dang it, my camera batteries had died. So, promptly as we got off the boat I replaced them and he posed for a picture for me anyway.

After Dirt Man and I checked into our room, we went  to rent bikes to tour the island. Yes, we are crazy to want to ride bike in 100 degree heat, but it was much cooler that walking. I already told you that it was pointless to do my hair, same thing with make up. It had melted off in a matter of minutes! It was soooooo hot that we really just wanted to immediately jump into a cold shower to cool off. However, all of the establishments do keep their wall air conditioning units cranked, so inside we did stay comfortable. Exploring the island was hot and sweaty, but well worth a bit of heat discomfort. It is an amazing little place. The history is interesting.The people are wonderful, and the food is out of this world. I’ll cover all of that in another post.

Dirt Man named this bike “Maypop”. The tread was showing all the way around the tire, so he figured it may pop or may not. The bike rentals transpire in Ruby’s backyard. She owns the business, and her hubby takes care of maintaining the bike. The chain was off of this bike, and they put it back on. As many things on the island, it was an honor system. Ruby’s husband wouldn’t take payment for the bike up front. There was a tip jar in the backyard, and he told us to just place the money in there when we returned the bikes. The bikes receive a fair amount of wear and tear due to tourists and the salty air. He told us that if the bikes didn’t hold up or suit us to just come back and switch them. I really wanted the purple one with a basket, but I didn’t say anything. He adjusted the seat on a pink one to fit me, so I graciously accepted it.

Dirt Man and I took off to explore the island. Maypop rode great until we went over a little bridge to explore the beach. Dirt Man sped up and as soon as he hit a bump and the tire landed on the ground, the chain fell off again. He was able to put it back on himself, but we went back and switched his bike. Guess which one he got. Dang it….he got my coveted purple bike with the basket! But all turned out because I found out that weighing the basket down with all our stuff made it a bit more difficult to maneuver, and let’s just say I had a hard enough time trying to avoid being run over by golf carts. Did I mention that this island doesn’t have cars? Actually, it did have about a total of maybe five trucks and a couple of cars. There are also a couple of motorcycles and a fourwheeler. Everyone owns a golf cart, and they know how to zip them in and out. The speed limit is supposed to be fifteen miles and hour. We noticed that some of the teens were actually texting while driving their motorcycles! There was a girl driving and a boy on the back texting. Dirt Man replied it was going to become a problem if she decided to text him back!

 Did I mention that is was a dry island? Not dry as in no water because obviously it is surrounded by water, but dry as in no alcohol. The  website states that even though it is dry and you can’t buy alcohol on the island you are welcome to bring your own as long as you are discreet.

I’ll tell you about our kayak trip in another post, and I’ll post more about the island and the people in one as well. Sorry this one got a bit long.

Climbing Crabtree Falls

Dirt Man and I had planned to hike Crabtree Falls. It had been many years for both of us, but I figured it wouldn’t really be that difficult since we’d be following the trail. Right? Wrong! This is why:

Dirt Man: Come here for just a quick minute. (He is pointing to a bit path off the opposite side of the parking lot which appears to be leading to possibly a “natural” bathroom spot.

Me: Where are we going? Aren’t we supposed to stay on the trail? ( Wylie (the dog) drags me in after him and rips through two huge rocks.)

Dirt Man: It’s not far. It’s a beautiful set of waterfalls. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

This is where I thought he was leading me, and let’s just say I was more than disappointed. I was peeved. As I straddled fallen trees and balanced myself with a walking stick, I muttered ugly words under my breath. I climbed rocks, slipped, jumped over logs, scooted under logs, and almost wet my pants. And not to mention that we forgot to stop and get bottled water the night before. (However, note that we did have a cooler of ice beer…not allowed and that was a good thing!) Fortuanately, I kept all those nasty seldom used words below the surface, so Dirt Man was never the wiser…except he knew (minus the expletives!) I wanted to be hiking the trail.

This is only a small sample of the natural elements I had to maneuver around, not to mention that it was all up the side of a mountain! Wylie had no problem. She sqatted when needed, drank out of the stream, and plunged forward and upward. And she never complained once…that was me whining “how much farther?”

I think this is an interesting geological formation in the way the rock has split in several pieces and shifted with smaller pieces having drifted down stream. There are various patterns of shifting rock along the creek bed and up the mountain side.

This was where he led me. I was no longer disappointed. It was absolutely beautiful and serene. This is off the beaten path, so only locals or Appalachian trail runners know of it’s existence. Dirt Man used to hike the Appalachian for years, so he knows many of nature’s best kept secrets. In fact, we call Crabtree Falls “Virginia’s Best Kept Secret”.  (There is a set of Crabtree Falls in North Carolina, but the beauty is no where comparable to the ones in Virginia.) And yet, this is nothing compared to the beauty that awaits above this point.

I met this little guy as I reached the spot we were turning to head back down to hit the designated trail. I wan’t pleased about meeting up with him. Dirt Man claimed that he was a harmless little garden snake.  Phooey, he looked rather menacing to me. He didn’t hiss or strike at me, but I’m sure he was thinking about whether or not he wanted a bite of me. Other than taking a picture, we ignored the little guy and headed up the falls properly.

This sign above states WHY one must stay on the trail. The rocks are slippery and when you reach the high elevations and slip, there is no stopping. Most people think because they can’t see the algae that it isn’t there. Trust me, it is. Some of the rocks are even slippery on the lower elevations. We kept Wylie leashed, and she was not happy about not being able to get in the water. We did let her drink water at the edge on even spots. Otherwise, she was a great hiker.

This is a close up of one area of the first set of falls.

This is the bottom part of the first section.  I wish I knew the altitiude and length to give you more of a visual, but I think some of the other pictures will give you a better idea.

This huge boulder with a hole in it looks as if it might make a nice home or place of shelter for wild animals.

Is this not magnificent or what?!

This is just one of the huge rocks that builds a natural wall along part of the trail.

The falls widen and narrow and twist and turn all the way down.

The sound of the rushing water and the song of the splatter is music unlike any I’ve heard. It’s a wet symphony that melts away worry and places you in that moment in time. How often in life do we get that feeling?

The holes in this rock look as if the hand of God picked it up and placed it where He saw fit.

This set of falls spans over a wider area of rock.

The water curves and rides the formation of the rocks. This is rock and water in harmony, nature at it’s best.

The richness of the tones in this shot captures the splendor of the elements.

This is a closer shot where you can almost see the drops of water in the spray.

The way the water shoots off and reconnects and seperates reminds me of lightening.

I included this one of Dirt Man walking away after taking pictures from a closer range so that you could appreciate the magnitude of the falls. And this is only right below the half way point. The falls go a couple of miles higher. We didn’t climb to the top as we were trying to combine two days of activities into one day. We wanted to spend the afternoon on our river property. We headed below to our our little slice of heaven and had lunch and a few beer. We basked in the sun and played in the river until evening. We completed our Nelson Trip with a visit to Saunders to buy peaches and have ice cream made with the orchard peaches. It was a delicious treat for the hot weather and a nice ending to a day of basking in God’s glorious canvas of nature.

Soapstone, Rock Or Treasure

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  ~Albert Einstein

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  ~John Muir

As Dirt Man and I reached the bottom of the mountain, we looked up to watch the fog roll off the mountains. The picture truly doesn’t do justice to the majesty of actually seeing it rise off and disappear into the atmosphere. It is amazing to visualize in person a pallette of greens and blues that blend into one another from grass to cornstalks to trees to mountains to fog and sky and drift into eternity.

How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!  ~Emily Dickinson, letter to Mrs. J.S. Cooper, 1880

This is a soapstone quarry located on my father’s family property. Back in that day, I think soapstone was mostly used for sinks and tubs. It was mined in blocks and then cut into slabs and fabricated. Now, I see it used for sidewalks, oven stones, ash trays, clocks, pipes, bowls, vases, and other various artist sculptures. Soapstone is weatherproof, heatproof, and easily worked.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  ~John Muir

This is another view with a lovely reflection of the trees on the water. I don’t know exactly how deep this quarry is, but I do know that scuba divers have used it for many years to train. Family members also stock it with fish, paddle boats or floats on it, and swim in it. My sisters and I were never allowed to swim in it as my parents were afraid we’d drown. However, both of my brothers were allowed to swim and fish there. I always found it be be a place of solitude. I often just sat there and soaked in the beauty.

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  ~John Keats

This is a boulder of soapstone that was mined from the quarry but not deemed of good enough quality to be used for products. You can see the holes and ridges from drilling and working it out of the earth.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  ~Lao Tzu

This is a creek bed not far from that quarry. If you’ve been reading my blog long and remember the river pictures I’ve posted, you’ll notice how different this rock is in comparison to the rock only about twenty or so miles a way. This rock is located at a base of a mountain where as the river is on a mountain. We noticed that some of the formations appear as if they might be on a fault line. I find geology fascinating, but I also know that I’d need a clearer understanding of geography to totally get it. At any rate, these rocks have been around a very long time, and who knows where they’ve traveled or what they’ve endured.

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.  ~Charles A. Lindbergh, Life, 22 December 1967

This is a very important spot on this creek. This is the spot that Dirt Man reached down a picked up a treasure. It is the exact same spot I reached down thirty-five years ago and removed my own treasure.


One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.  ~William Shakespeare

This is the treasure. Do you know what this is? It is an Indian bowl. It is made from soapstone. Indians used handmade tools to carve and shape utensils. Soapstone was easily shaped in comparison to other rock. The mouth of this bowl is very deep. It appears to have been used as a mortar with a pestle for grinding cornmeal or perhaps crushing herbs. If you remember my love for all things Indian and connected with this land (if not see here), you will know that when Dirt Man handed that to me, I became the richest woman alive. No diamond could have made me happier, well maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.

Great things are done when men and mountains meet.  This is not done by jostling in the street.  ~William Blake

Bridges of Nelson County

“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” ~Thornton Wilder

Culvert at Montebello, Virginia

Sometimes, we close the gap and no one even knows we’re there. Love seeps in and flows out, and the world around us continues living. We don’t ask for praise or recognition, we just do what we do for the better of all.

Bridge at Montebello, Virginia

Sometimes, our job is a little more obvious. We provide a safe place to cross or connect.  We offer guardrails with tidbits of wisdom to hold onto when the journey feels unsteady. And sometimes, we even close down to protect those we love.

Crabtree Falls Automobile Bridge

Sometimes, we are the means to help others reach their destinations. We provide the strength, guidance,and drive they need to reach their dreams.

Crabtree Falls Foot Bridge    Tyro, Virginia

Sometimes, we’re able to curve and bend. We offer beauty and peace in a world that is often filled with strife. We lead to places that can lift souls to the heavens.

Appalachian Trail Swinging Bridge   Tyro, Virginia

Sometimes, the ability to stand and swing is looked upon as being dfifferent rather than unique. Sometimes, we must anchor down as we hang and sway midair. The more pressure upon us, the more unsteady we seem; however, our cables are tight and our base is steady. Our pliability is a matter of survival, and we become symbols of hope. We still offer a safe place to cross over the water while permitting insignificant issues to wash beneath us.  It’s all a matter of enjoying the adventure and the view along the way.

Hops Bridge  Massie’s Mill, Virginia

Sometimes, we are rugged tough. We are cemented down and allow all the extra to flow through, and if it’s still too much we just let it roll over us. We are dependable, trustworthy, and comfortable. We weather a bit, but we remain steadfast.

Wrought Iron Bridge at Oak Ridge  Arrington, Virginia

Sometimes, we need a support system of sheer iron to endure the test of time. Sometimes, we are bridges of innovation, built with honor and courage. We carry truth for all the world to discern. We might look old and rickety, but wisdom comes from experience. Those who’ve transported heavy loads, carried others high above danger, and made stops where others never dared are ones to be respected for they truly exist with grace. Be sure to build your bridges strong enough for heavy loads to cross, and flexible enough to connect to those around you. Most of all, be careful which bridges you decide to burn because one day you might need a safe place to cross.

A Segment Of Sometimes Series

From Bedrock To Beaches

 

This is where our trip started.

We usually go to OBX for vacation. Dirt Man and I decided to do something different this year. We’re calling it our “Bedrock to Beach” week. We started off in the mountains with two full days of R&R. The deal was that we were going to be unplugged, as in NO internet or cell phone…however, we barely got through the first day and I caught Dirt Man on Facebook. YES. I. DID! He caved immediately and then retreated until Tuesday night and was off again until Friday. I admit I checked my emails, FB, and blog accounts AFTER I caught him….you know I had to win, didn’t you?!

We hiked Crabtree Falls and poked around our river property below there. We explored some bridges and took some great pictures. We scoured the creeks and woods where I grew up. We returned Wylie (our dog) and headed for Tangier Island. When we left there, on a whim, we checked out Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. We did a tremendous (in my humble opinion!) amount of hiking, climbing, biking and kayaking. Whether or not it was conscious, Dirt Man constantly challenged my stamina and sanity…and we both made it back ALIVE! Seriously, we had a great time.

I have many stories to tell and pictures to display. I haven’t decided whether to write this series in chronological order or to just throw them out there. We all know that no matter how much planning I do, I usually end up just winging it anyway. Some of what I write will probably branch into pieces of their own. An example is some really awesome bridge photos I took for a photo essay. Each of these bridges has so much detail and back history that I will later write about each one after I post my collective essay.

And then there is the food. Now, you better believe that much of our trip was focused on food. Now, that’s a big surprise, huh?!

We met some wonderful and interesting people, saw some amazing sights, learned quite a bit of Virginia history, and exercised muscles I had no idea I owned! As always with vacation, it will take me another week to recover. We should have scheduled the R&R for the end of the vacation…next time I’ll know!

This is the amazing sunset we witnessed from the bridge on the way home!

***********************************

On another note, I recieved this award from rhythmofmysoul, Jingle, Heartspell, Dragonfliesandgoosebumps, and Joanny. I am honored with all this blog love from my fellow poet friends. Each of these poets is simply amazing; please pay them a visit.

This one also comes from Joanny at The Dowser’s Daughter. The rules for the pink award is to name seven things about myself and pass on to ten bloggers. I am still very tired and playing catch up from vacation, so my brain is too frazzled to narrow it down to just ten people. I would be more than honored if you are reading this if you will just grab it..it is yours to post, pass on…no strings attached except to name your seven things. And you’re welcome to take the second one as well.

My seven things:

1. I love pretty shoes…yet I prefer to be barefoot!

2. I enjoy watching the sun set much more than watching it rise.

3. I am comforted by water…even more so by rivers than the ocean.

4. I love rocks, but I no longer collect them. I think every stone has a story, and it’s interesting to imagine where it has been and how it eveolved into it’s current shape etc…

5. If I had to choose between flowers and trees, I’d pick trees.

6. I tend to think my dog is just a furry little person…and she thinks so, too!

7. I can’t whistle except with a blade of grass between my thumbs.

Plotting The Course

Sometimes I feel lost

Not so much in the world

But within myself

I seem to lose my groove

Words get trapped beneath ego

And ego never shuts up

Dead, dry, crackling leaves

Rustle across my soul

With hands over ears

I navigate the only way I know

I gnaw my way home

Thank you for this honor as well!

Reaching For The Sky

Sometimes, we’re the saplings, the new kids in the forest. We need to seek the wisdom of the large sturdy trees, the ones who’ve been around a while. We need to drink what is offered and bask in the sun.

Sometimes, we are firmly grounded. Our roots are big and plentiful. We are well nourished. We even support the life around us.

Sometimes, our foundations shift. Maybe, our roots were not as strong as we thought. Or maybe our condtions threaten to uproot us. Maybe, we don’t have proper support, or maybe we’re trying to support everyone but ourselves.

Sometimes, when we’re overwhelmed, feeling knotty and holey, we can still feel the sun shining on our lives. We realize that scars of experience add character and worthiness to life.

Sometimes, our holes give shelter to others without harming our base. In fact, as we learn to care and share, we become stronger, fuller, and richer than the eye can see.

Sometimes, we become self absorbed. We feel gnarled, twisted, and stifled. We are stagnant. We are self-contained, growing straight up without ever reaching out. We are limited in our own productivity and in our communication with others. We realize for the well being of all, we must change.

Sometimes, we know just how much to open up, how to reroute, how to support others without sacrificing our own health. Everyones wins when this happens.

Sometimes, we flower and our beauty shines for all the world to see and enjoy.

But we must always stretch, expand, and be all that we can. Reach for the sky, and aim for the stars even if you can’t see them.

A Segment Of Sometimes Series

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Have a fabulous week, guys. I’ll be on vacation. No internet or cell phone FOR.AN.ENTIRE.WEEK! Think I will make it? We actually have internet access…I chose the only cottage that has it!!!! But, I promised Dirt Man I’d leave my laptop at home….what will my grimey little fingers find to do?! However, there absolutely is no cellular service, period! So, we have no choice but to bask in the beauty of nature and relax and enjoy. Will tell you all about it when I return. Will give you a hint that I am traveling both mountain and sea, nothing like variety in nature! Peace Out!

And We Took The Ride Together

I think there’s just one kind of folks.  Folks.  ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

I started elementary school in the Fall of 1969. This was the very first year of desegregation in our school system. I guess the county like many small Southern towns contained much prejudice. However, I don’t recall any tension between the races when I was in elementary school. We were just small children taking that big first step of starting school. We banded together and offered solace and protection for one another. Not only we were in a new setting, but we were also the survivors of Camille, the flood that nearly devastated our entire county.

We were not afraid of each other and did not immediately see the differences that adults saw. We saw that we all liked to color, sing, slide down the slides, ride the see saws, and play dodge ball. We like to play tag, and we all wanted to be the little red caboose. And we all took great delight in doing the cocka-a-doodle-doo at song time! The only race that mattered to first graders was who took the blue ribbon in the turkey trot. We were innocent and eager to make friends and learn new things.

We were intrigued with one another’s skin and hair. We rubbed our hands along one another’s arms and played with each other’s hair. We shared our snacks and laughed together. While our parents focused on our differences, we knew that although we looked different we were still very much the same. We were a family away from home.

I quickly became friends with a little boy named Marvin. He was silly and fun and I adored him. And he was short like me, so that sort of sealed the deal. However, he was always chasing me down and trying to kiss me. I knew I was not supposed to kiss boys, so I complained to my Daddy. He told me that the next time that little Don Juan tried to pin me down to take two fingers and black his eyes. I replied to my Daddy that I couldn’t do it. He demanded to know why and I said, “Cuz his eyes is already black.” From the mouths of babes. I really don’t know if my father was mortified that his youngest child’s first boyfriend was a different race or more tickled with my reply, but that quote has gone down in family history. Marvin and I remained friends throughout school. I was devastated to hear shortly before our twentieth class reunion that he had died. If he could read this, he’d probably chuckle.

My first “nonwhite” girlfriend was Tootie. She was the most fun of anyone in the entire school. She made me laugh so hard my belly hurt. I had the joy of having many classes with her throughout my school years and rode the bus with her. It was a great joy to see her at my 20th reunion. Like old times, she had me rolling on the floor in no time. Her humor and down to earth manner were what I’d always admired about her.

The biggest obstacle we had between the “whites and blacks” as we were called then was music. We had a large meeting place in the center of the school. Our school had been selected as a site for some sort of learning pilot project. It was one of those learn at your own pace rather than specific curriculum for an entire class. They had torn out the auditorium style seating and replaced it with carpeting, tables and chairs and renamed it “the space”. All that remained unchanged was the stage. Anyway, every morning we would take sides in a show down of music and dancing. We pushed all of the chairs against the walls and set up the portable record players on the tables and started turning those 45’s. It became Donny Osmond and the Osmond Brothers against Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five. We would argue relentlessly about who was better until it was time to get down to academics. I don’t think we ever really agreed, but I think you can look back at music history and see how clear the answer is in hindsight! With music being the biggest obstacle in uniting us, I’d say that was not too bad. I’m sure there were other things throughout the years, but this is what jumps out in my memory. Those really were the good old days. Changes were coming, and they were good ones.

My high school graduation class of 1981 was the first class to have gone through the system completely desegregated and was a proud moment for our school superintendent, Henry Connor, who stated that he started that year with us in first grade and walked with us on our journey. Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby!

You Can’t Make Me Swallow Your Bitter Pill

Nothing bitter about these beauties!

Hurt leads to bitterness, bitterness to anger, travel too far that road and the way is lost. ~Terry Brooks

I try hard not to be judgmental, but the human that I am is filled with opinions. If they are hurtful, I definitely try to keep them to myself. Have you ever met someone that thinks the world needs to know their opinion on everything? And often times, that person’s opinions are not pleasant.

Often people base opinions on misconstrued information. Judgments are often formed from ignorance. Both are annoying. And sometimes, people say things to others that are just downright mean. Those are the things that really upset me. Is it necessary to hurt someone to voice an opinion? No. Why do they do it? Does hurting someone else actually make them feel better? I don’t see how. I know I’ve hurt people, and it certainly doesn’t feel good. I’ve regretted letting words slip my mouth.

“Attitude without substance is just plain bitterness.” ~Unknown

I have recently watched pleasant people turn hostile. These once gracious people have grown venom tongues. Do they realize how harmful their words are? In some instances, I think they do and that’s their point. There words are intentional, thought out and spurted at precisely the perfect moment. They just don’t care if they hurt others. These are mostly older people that I’ve noticed this change in recently. Their tongues have sharpened with age. I wonder if they feel they’ve earned the right by their age to act in such a nasty manner. They freely bite at anyone who comes in contact. It’s as if they are itching to hurt someone’s feelings or stir up trouble. They ask questions that are clearly none of their business and then throw insults at the person when they hear the answer. I realize that people often are the rudest to the ones they love the most. But these people are even mean to total strangers. They make ugly remarks to total strangers about their purchases in a store or their children. I’ve even heard them yell at the receptionist at a doctor’s office because the doctor is running late. I’ve even seen people laugh at other people because of the way they are dressed or their gait or mannerisms. I think it is so sad to poke fun of people who are just out tending their own business. I’m sure we’re all guilty of thinking these things, but to openly express them is an entirely different matter. It is just plain lousy manners to laugh in someone’s face or say something hateful to them. And yet, if someone treated them that way, they’d be horrified.

I feel strongly that you should treat others with the same kindness in which you wish to be treated, no matter how young or old you are. No matter how tempted we are to say something ugly, we should try to remind ourselves to take a deep breath and rethink those words. Once they escape our lips, the damage is done. Trust me, I know. I have been both the giver and the receiver. I wish I’d thought longer before delivery. And I know first hand the pain that comes with ugly words thrown at me. I can’t erase any I’ve sent, nor can I block any coming my way. But I can focus on my actions to others and my reactions to the way I am treated. I want to practice thinking before acting and reacting. I hope I am able to maintain my wall of gratification to prevent  bitterness from intruding.

Bitterness is a thorny weed that grows rampant in a hardened heart, while love is a wildflower that grows freely in a softened heart. May we chisel a crack in every heart of stone and plant a seed of hope.

Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it. ~Harry Emerson Fosdick