Listening to the voice of a place…

 Fred First has a piece up this morning that really speaks to those of us who listen to the voice of those sacred places we discover in life. The photo he posted with the story almost brings the voice of Nameless Creek to life. I can imagine the fireflies beginning to flash their welcome to the night as dusk grows heavy on the summer eve. The stars competing for attention as the fireflies rise toward the tops of the trees above. Yes, this is a sacred place to sit the day down…

The pine tree beside the lawn chairs–that we could never bring ourselves to put back in the barn–was only head high when we saw it there on our first walk down this way. Things are different now. And things there are just the way they’ve been since the first settlers found this valley in the early 1800s. The seclusion and peace is unchanged since both Confederate and Union deserters took refuge in this wonderfully-forsaken place. It is the same as yesterday, even on days we don’t go there.
The Christmas ferns grow ever-green along the banks. The squirrels chatter from the tops of White Pines, shedding fragments of their morning meal like crumbs from the table. The creek sings whether we are there to listen or not.

I can understand the call such a place has on a person because in my life there have been a number of these sacred places that have called me back to them over and over. Unlike Fred, all of these places I have owned only in my mind. Someday soon I hope to own my own place to become part of, to grow into.

Thanks Fred, some mornings become sacred because of the friends you visit with even when you travel no further than your computer…

Source: Morning Comes to Nameless Creek

Snake Tails

In South Texas where my Grandpa Sewell was raised, snakes are a big deal…A really BIG deal. Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes of six feet and longer are common. In the summer and fall 0f 1972, when I lived with my grandparents, we tanned a rattlesnake skin that was over eight feet long and about eighteen inches wide at the widest point. Grandpa was quite proud of the fact that he shot the head off the snake at 20 to 30 yards as it crawled across a right-of-way where his deer stand was located. At least that was the story he told. You have to understand my Grandpa, he was prone to tall tales. He just loved pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible grandkids. His favorite day of the year was April 1. The world was always full of April Fools and he loved every one of them.

The Stick

One of the tales Grandpa loved to tell was of the Rattler we walked up on on the first night my family visited the ranch in the ’60’s.

When we arrived it was already late and the sun was setting. Grandma and Grandpa had just recently had a two bedroom house built but were still using the small hunting trailer for storage. With four adults and four kids we needed bedding for the night. So Grandpa led a small caravan of children on a hike to the trailer for sleeping bags. As we walked thru the dark led by Grandpa and his flashlight he was regaling us with all of the dangers of the night in south Texas. He was telling us about wolves and coyotes, huge owls that could lift a child by the hair, and rattlesnakes. To this day I can remember his words, “You have to keep your eyes on the ground at all times around here ’cause there are rattlesnakes under every bush” and with that he swung the light over and said “there’s one now” and damned if there wasn’t.

“Get me a stick” Grandpa instructed. My two brothers hauled it for the house while I tried to see a stick on the ground around me.

“Here’s one” my sister said as she handed Grandpa a stick.

It was only a matter of seconds before Grandpa dispatched the rattler, then he turned to my sister and asked her, “How did you know that wasn’t another snake?”

Her answer was “I kicked it first”.

Grandpa told that story for the rest of his life…”I kicked it first” was the punch line he loved.

To be continued in…

Waking up a Rattler

Edges and Order – New York Times

From Verlyn Klinkenborg of The New York Times comes this paragraph today…

Nearly every image of nature I have ever come across misses the sense of intricate confusion underfoot in the woods, the thickets of goldenrod collapsing into each other along the roadsides, the rotting tusks of fallen beeches broken against the western hillside. It almost never makes sense to talk about the purpose of nature. But now — until the snow comes at last — I could easily believe that the purpose of nature is to create edges, if only because every edge, no matter how small, is a new habitation. As purposes go, that could hardly be more different from my own, which is to reduce the number of edges here, so that the big pasture is bounded by four clean lines only, free of interruptions from sumac or knotweed or shattered maple limbs. Left to itself, nature is all interruption.

It is almost as if he is issuing a challenge to the photographer in me. I know what he’s talking about though, I’ve taken those images and trashed them once they were developed because the focused view in the picture captured nothing of the actual image my eyes saw as I clicked the shutter. I was already thinking  of some sort of photo project dealing with the woods along the bayou behind my house after visiting FFF this morning and reading his agenda list for the new year. Who knows maybe Fred and Verlyn can inspire something that will lead to a furthering of this stumble toward the next phase of my life.

BTW — Happy 2007

Source: Edges and Order – New York Times