Giant heavy machines must maneuver at snail speed when parking. I recently watched the shuttle creep along at an inch per minute seeking a gentle trimmed docking with the space station. This working tug was backing and gliding cautiously to the left eventually tying for the night in a sheltered niche along the waterfront. "Hang around the docks at sunrise and sunset," I says to any who listen, " and you'll seldom come away emptyhanded."
"Sit yo' ass DOWN…" I says to myself. When distractions pull in directions I'd rather not go, and invisible forces push to places I'd rather not be. Should the blue chair be used to sit and think some more? Or, will the sun-warmed seat, alone, be enough to melt the fog and reassure that the ultimate truth still resides in my toasty buttocks.
As if in a spinning whirlwind, I find myself re-discovering my enormous (way too enormous) archive of recorded music. (Dammit iTunes, to Hell!) Yet, it's a fascinating voyage thru decades past and very pleasurable to boot. Not to forget, however, recent spins around the backroads of rural South Georgia; here's a fine patch of lily pads spinning also in their universe of peaceful tranquility.
The next time you savor the delights of pecan pie or butter pecan ice cream consider this tale that might, instead of smiles, give you the shakes. Mature pecan trees are strong gangly creatures. Their elusive fruit hang high making successful harvest tricky and difficult without unacceptable collateral damage to leaf and limb. As expected, modern mechanical wizardry and ingenuity to the rescue. The preferred harvester is conspired as a low-slung turtle-like machine reminiscent of the bottom half of a Sherman tank, often carried on three small wheels, occasionally on crawler tracks. A long arm extends from the front at the end of which is attached a huge menacing hinged claw wide enough to firmly clamp both sides of any trunk or low slung limb. It goes like this. The contraption eases up to the target, protruding arm extended. The claw grips firmly. Then, the harvester issues a burst of powerful high frequency vibrations that, for 10-15 seconds, shake the bejesus out of the entire tree creating a noisily intense crackling hail of pecan nuts, a dense shower, followed by an eerie silence that will leave any observer stunned and slack-jawed.
Way down South in the land of Spanish moss and low-gradient streams, a place where I can see more of my most favorite road signs, 'PAVEMENT ENDS AHEAD', than any place else, the winter wetlands stitch a line of little bon-bons across my camera's heart.
Red-lined and sprinkled with symbols locating items and places of interest (intended to guide return visits), my county maps tell the plenitudinous story of roads traveled over the years and discoveries made along the way. A wealth of precious chance encounters. A small waterfall here, and old farm house over there. Instead of the sweet renewal of an old acquaintance, however, return visits can often be a source of dismay and downright consternation. Natural roadsides once rich with wildflowers are widened, straightened, cutback and bare. Old churches once emblems of community heritage are either replaced or strangled by multiple mismatched additions framed with edge to edge blacktop. Country stores unable to compete with full service convenience plazas are boarded up and overgrown. Early yesterday morning, with trepidation I turned southwest on Johnson Mountain Road and headed toward a map symbol labeled 'old plank bridge'. Cautiously ready for a taste of bitter tea. Instead, that chilly morn the tea was mellow and sweet. A blessed reprieve, still standing, still spanning. Goose bumps rippled like the shallow waters of Salacoa Creek, and all was right with the world.
Once upon a time, railroads were the icon of modernity, the ultimate gadget. Gawkers, curiosity seekers, boys chasing the caboose, cheering crowds. Now made obsolete by the virtual subatomic dematerializer for mass transportation, a vintage railroad can still quiet and calm and infuse my reflections with wonder.