Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part LXII: Quiet Love

6

August 30, 2017, Prescott-

I said I loved someone,

who was not ready to hear it.

Confusing love,

with the lust that has been shown her,

by several others,

she fled and keeps her distance.

That is not an insult to me,

rather, it only confirms

that my love is what

will stand by her.

Her dreams,

her life’s path,

her independent spirit

mean more than

her lovely face

and engaging personality.

Lust,

infatuation,

possessiveness

fade.

Love,

from the depth

of one’s heart,

only grows.

Lust needs to be front and center.

Love may shine from the background.

Years from now,

the wife I loved,

now my angel,

will still feel my soul’s

agape.

The women, to whose efforts

I have shown

a quiet and steadfast

support,

will realize

that they are

safe and sound,

in my presence.

My friend,

know you are

among this number.

You have the space you need.

 

 

Wide Murals and A Long Market

8

July 23, 2017, Paducah, KY-

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This old river town, now also a regional hub for the Confluence- (people in Cairo, IL refer to Paducah as “town”), has two places that drew me back, all the way from last year, when I passed this way after dark, and ended up in Marion, IL.  The first is the Ohio Riverfront.  Middle America has done well, in making the most of its waterways, both the great rivers and the Great Lakes.  Retaining walls are accompanied by walkways and adorned by murals.  Public events, ever with music, are a given- especially in summer.  This is Paducah, named by William Clark, who gave the local Comanches the name Padoukas- a corruption of the Kaw term for them: Padoka.

The Ohio is joined by the Tennessee River, not far from here.    Then, as you may recall, the Ohio itself conjoins the Missisissippi, a few miles further west, at Cairo.  Thus, one might set sail in Huntsville, Alabama and make one’s way clear to Billings, Montana, or Wichita, Kansas, with clever navigation.

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The preacher man was too busy singing, to introduce himself, but he is apparently a local fixture, as many of those in their lawn chairs said they’d be at his gospel festival, a few days into August.  He covered all the timeless classics, and got me to croak along, on a few of them.

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The triptych mural, on Paducah’s floodwall, covers different aspects of the river’s heritage.  This one, of the riverboat, looks at a period of time that fascinated me, as a child.  The gamblers and the roustabouts of the early river communities were among my favourite characters, on shows like “Daniel Boone.”

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River traffic made Paducah prosper, in the mid-Nineteenth Century, even into the beginnings of the Rail Era.  The solid buildings still maintain a bustling downtown.  Even on Sunday evening, when most everything was closed, I got a sense of the city’s vitality.

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Every Midwestern town, it seems, has a gazebo, and Paducah is no exception.  This gazebo spawned its own park, and Garden Club.

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Should I pass this way again, I would make certain to come when the long Market Hall is open.  Growing up with Boston’s Faneuil Hall, I am perfectly content spending hours in a public market.

Along Broadway Street are some ever-enticing abstract murals.

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Lastly, this evening introduced me to St. Clair Court, the site of a three-story wooden hotel and theater, across from the Market.  It was destroyed by fire, in 1895.  Adjacent to it is this brick and mortar wonder.

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So, there is a taste of one of Kentucky’s interesting river towns.  Like any region, the Ohio Valley would offer a full experience to the discerning and curious traveler.  Alas, I must head westward, though through other interesting areas, to my own exhilarating Home Base.

NEXT:  A Tale of Two Campgrounds

The Ohio Knows

4

July 23, 2017, Jeffersonville, IN-

I stayed, last night, at an off-the-beaten-path inn, made all the more interesting by there having been an intense storm, which had caused a power outage.  Spanish Manor Inn lies on the eastern outskirts of a small Bluegrass Country town:  Olive Hill, itself a far exurb of Lexington.

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The motel is run by a pastor’s wife.  The  pastor himself uses one of the buildings as a wedding chapel.  They graciously received me in their home-office, and explained I was fortunate to get the last available room.  Given the intensity of the storm, I scarcely blame them for putting up a no vacancy sign, as soon as I headed back down the hill to the rooms.  There was no Internet, of course, but I surely got a restful sleep, despite the booming and crashing outside.

I texted my nephew, who lives in the Louisville area, just across the Ohio River from the city.  It has been a game of schedule tag, up to now, for me to meet his wife and children.  Today, though, they had a few hours, so off I went towards Slugger Town, going through a bit more rain on the way.  I ditched the rain, around Shelbyville, stopping only to pick up some gift items for the young family.

I had no trouble finding their suburban home, and after an impromptu tour of the house, the five of us went to a pleasant Mexican restaurant- my second confirmation this month, that there are people in Indiana who do such cuisine right.  This takes care of the contention of several people, that there is no proper salsa in the Midwest.  We had it, aplenty.  Once back in the house, I joined my nephew, niece-in-law and grand niece, in the family room, to watch Aladdin, for the first time in twenty-five years, while grand-nephew took his nap.  Once it was time for life’s errands to resume, I bid thank you and farewell to the wakeful members of our family’s Indiana branch.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Ohio knows when to be gracious to a visitor.  This often overlooked sibling to the Father of Waters has been on my radar for a visit, for many years, and there was no time like this afternoon, at the Falls of the Ohio, a sometimes tempestuous section of river, shared by Louisville, on the south bank and Jeffersonville, on the north.  The Indiana side has an Interpretive Center, closed on Sunday.  The river itself, however, offers a wealth of walking trails and rocks on which to sit and meditate, or, as several were, fish.

The Ohio is not always accommodating, to put it mildly, and there is much deposited in the woodlands, on either bank, from Devonian and Silurian fossils, in the soil, to broken branches from the roiling storms of summer and winter, alike.

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Here are some scenes of the cataracts, which both draw people to the salubrious banks and make life difficult for those plying a trade, along the Ohio.

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I chose this spot to sit and reflect on how nice the drive through Kentucky and southern Indiana had been.

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Of course, the River answered, “Thank you”.

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This is a surreal view of Louisville, hidden by a railroad bridge.  There is a sign, on I-65, that warns of a toll booth, but I saw no toll booth on either northbound or southbound, and there were no cameras, either.  Methinks the toll has been discontinued.

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Lastly, before I headed south again, en route to Paducah, a wink to Lewis and Clark was in order.  This area was integral to the planning phase of their monumental exploration, and there was a family tie:  George Rogers Clark, who secured the then-Northwest Territory for our fledgling nation, was William Clark’s brother.  Clarksvillle, Jeffersonville,  New Albany, Corydon and Vincennes are all filled with historic sites, associated with the Clark family and the pioneers of the Ohio Valley.

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My spirit guides were calling me westward, to Paducah, for a further appreciation of the Ohio River, just a few miles shy of its meeting with the mighty Mississippi, at Cairo, IL.  So, on went the Hyundai and I.

 

About The Change

12

August 25, 2017, Prescott-

I looked into the online face of a young woman,

in the context of a friend’s defining

the difference between

helping,

fixing

and serving.

The girl’s eyes asked

only for service.

She needed no help.

She did not ask,

nor needed,

to be fixed.

Her face said,

“If you offer this service,

I can find my own wholeness”.

I have upgraded my blogsite.

Righteous Bruin has retired.

Sagitarrian Seeker has taken his place.

The semblance that I might know

a bit more than my fellow travelers,

was present in the former title,

and as kind and loving,

as the Bear has tried to be,

his mission was based

on a falsehood.

I will always love,

and be grateful for,

my old online persona.

Seeker, wide-eyed,

open to growth,

wishing to destroy nothing,

will build upon

the foundation laid

by Bruin.

So, the anonymous lady,

looking out at me,

while nuzzling her horse,

may rest assured,

that whatever honourable service

my friends need done,

will be accomplished.

Along this road,

I invite one and all.

Seek your own truth,

and may we embrace it,

together,

in our own way.

 

 

What Makes Community?

13

August 22, 2017, Prescott-

This evening, I attended a  gathering of Prescott Area School Gardens, aka Slow Food Prescott.   There were several small presentations about various garden projects, at both public and private schools, across the western half of Yavapai County.  The ensuing discussions broached upon several topics, including what, if any, are the rights of those who don’t support small agricultural projects?

A small group,  in the town of Humboldt, led by the town’s elementary school principal and a local landscaper, are pushing to remove the school’s garden, because its stewards are using organic farming techniques, will not allow Roundup, and other poisons, to be used in the garden area and are “taking up space that could be used for buildings.”  It’s even been said that these gardeners are teaching values that are at variance with local values.  What those local values are, is not quite clear.

There has been, in the media, reference to “the Hate Community”, following Charlottesville.   I wonder, does this mean there is an equal and opposite “Love Community”?  How about an “Indifference Community?”  The “White Community” is, supposedly, to be set apart from the “Black Community”, “Latino Community”, “Native American Community”,etc.  Do each of these communities have their pot luck dinners,  Kumbaya circles and support groups?

I have never been wholly accepted into a particular community, save my Baha’i Faith, and the online Archaeology for the Soul group. I have many friends who belong to various communities, but there are always those in a given group, for whom my presence is somehow a threat. Part of that is my peripatetic nature.  There is also the rapidity with which people form impressions of others, based on relatively brief encounters, real and perceived slights and lack of sustained communication.

I maintain that anonymity is largely to blame for estrangement, breakdowns in communication, or the lack of same.  It’s too easy to turn a stranger into a strawman. It is too easy to build false zones of security, based on opinions and practices that are themselves rooted in ignorance, superstition and hearsay.  Five minutes on social media offer proof enough of this.

It is also too easy to stick with one’s annoyance at another, based on one incident.  I have not, in nearly 67 years, had the luxury of holding onto grudges and resentments, and have had my fair share of bullies and haters.  Oftentimes, those same people have resurfaced in my life, as changed people, and/or as people in clear need of assistance.  I don’t regret my decision to see them as friends.

Communities, like individuals, are in various stages of growth, and will find themselves in conflict, as a result.  I do not, however, think that there is a “Hate Community”, or even a completely insular ethnic community, sufficient unto itself.  The world has just become too connected, and despite the fact that this means discord will chafe at our individual and collective skin, as a true World Community is formed, the long-term ramifications of this process are nothing short of glorious.

So, what does this mean for the “Roundup Community”?  It probably means a temporary ‘victory” over the organic farmers, given the mindset of our governmental agencies.  Long term, poisons will not be able to be administered in small enough doses to avoid permanent damage to soil, water and public health.   They will also prove ineffective against evolving pests, whose predators already exist in nature, and which are also evolving.   My overall point, in this rambling, is that life is going to continue, according to the Greater Plan of our Creator, Who will not abide its arbitrary extinction.

NOTE:  My remaining travel posts from July are awaiting my ability to pay for an upgrade to this Word Press account, so as to get unlimited storage for the photographs which enhance such posts. This should not take longer than a few more days.

Fortresses and Myths

4

July 22, 2017, Lexington, VA-

I stopped, overnight, in a town I love:  Harrisonburg, home to James Madison University, to two young couples, who I love as if they were my own children, and to another young lady, whom I also love like a daughter, but who has become a bit estranged, over the past year or so.  I visited the former, at their establishment:  Artful Cafe (formerly known as Artful Dodger), in the heart of downtown H’burg.  Readers might remember this place from my 2016 excursion.  They were coasting, on Friday night, saving their energy to lovingly greet participants in the Shenandoah Pride Festival, which was today’s big event.  I stopped by, again this noon, on my way out of town, and purchased enough cold brew coffee to keep me happy, on the way to Lexington.  The definitely straight young husbands were bare-chested, in solidarity with the Pride group-who, ironically, had not a bare chested person among them.  Their wives sported rainbow bandanas, as their contribution.  Me?  I am very happy with my woman-loving self, and I accept other people’s sexuality, without casting the judgement that belongs to the Creator alone.

I spent about thirty minutes with my Lost Angel,

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J filled me in on her life, of the past two years and, more importantly, of her dreams for the next few.  She seemed a bit embarrassed to not have any great achievements to recount, but you know, just seeing her and knowing that she was essentially okay, was more than enough.  J, and the other four kids, are people who I just want to see happy, as I do with my son and his lovely girlfriend.

I headed south, on I-81, with Charleston, WV and beyond on my radar screen.  Then, I saw a sign for Stonewall Jackson House, as Lexington loomed ahead.  I know, “He betrayed our country!”.  There are those who beg to differ, so being an admirer of some OTHER aspects of his life, I left the highway and drove past the formidable fastness of Virginia Military Institute, where Stonewall was an instructor, prior to the cataclysm.

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My interest in Thomas Jonathan Jackson, though,was not in his military exploits, but in his creativity and in his foresight.  His garden was decidedly Jeffersonian, incorporating many of the ideas put into practice at Monticello, including drip irrigation and organic crop rotation.  As you can see, he did make every square inch count for something.  The scarecrow was a “falcon”.

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Stonewall also, to the consternation of Lexington’s other citizens, believed Black people should be literate, and taught his “house servants” to read the Bible.  I would not be surprised to learn that this action of his actually led to his being coerced to join the Confederate Army, whose cause, despite his ferocity in battle, he only tepidly supported.  He died at the hands of one of his own sentries, which could very well have not been an accident.  Saddest of all, his own sister, an Abolitionist, declared him “dead to her”, upon the secession of Virginia and his being recruited by Robert E. Lee, in 1861.

TJ was a man of culture, and did foresee the end of slavery, war or no war.  He believed in the universality of learning, and maintained a progressive home.

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Satisfied that I had confirmed my suspicions about the decent side of Colonel Jackson, I headed west, across the Mountain State.  At a rest area, off I-64, east of Beckley, WV, I took a photo of the Blue Ridge, and found what looks like another being, inserting self into the view, gazing northward.

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Being far from alone, then, I continued on, into more rain and made it to Olive Hill, KY, before stopping at Spanish Mansion Inn.  More about it, and the Ohio River, in my next post.

 

Sometimes The Heart Has A Hole In It

6

August 20, 2017, Prescott- 

NOTE:  I am not shying away from posting about my visits to Harrisonburg and Lexington, VA.  That post will be up, tonight (dated July 22).  Considering one of the people in the post, though, brought to mind the topic below.

So, I have a hole in my heart, right now.

I, who pride myself on letting those I love fly away,

knowing that if they are really meant to be here,

they will return.

If not, they will light elsewhere.

There are, though, people

whose absence,

or lack of communication,

or estrangement,

hurt like Hell.

I guess that’s part of the physical realm,

and my mentors, ever steadfast,

will admonish me to let go.

I will, in short order,

but for now,

I am massaging the soreness.

People who run,

or are in hiding,

or are just silent,

I wish you every measure

of love, dignity and solace.

It will be nice,

if I am in your good graces,

again.

Fly where you will,

and know this roost is being kept fresh.

(This is for all my surrogate daughters,

who have disappeared and my friend,

who sped off, without a word.)

 

Vale of Three Mountains

2

July 21, 2017, Harpers Ferry- After experiencing the intensity and blood-echoes of Antietam, I headed the back way southward, through tourist-clogged Shepherdstown, to slightly less congested Charles Town, not to be confused with the West Virginia capital, Charleston, which lies a good 3 hours to the south.  There, I spent a restful night, on the outskirts of town.

This morning, after driving past the even more-overpopulated Harpers Ferry KOA, a mini-city, I opted to first take a ranger-guided tour of the approach to Lower Town.  Ranger Michael gave us a fully- detailed visit to what had been Storer College, an institution of higher learning, founded in 1865 and aimed at training African-American teachers.   The school closed in 1955. It is now part of Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, with a National Park Service Academy (Mather Training Center) and Lockwood House, a Union Army hospital and later headquarters for Gen. Philip Sheridan.  When Storer College was founded, Rev. Nathaniel Brackett made Lockwood House the administration building.  It is now a research facility for the National Park Service.

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Behind Lockwood House lies Harpers Ferry Cemetery.  Michael led us through the burial ground, en route to Jefferson Rock.

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Thomas Jefferson stood on this rock, in October, 1783, and was extremely impressed by the view.  From that point on, the rock has borne his name.

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St. Peter’s was not there, back then, but you get the idea.

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We walked past the ruins of an Episcopal Church, which was there in 1783, before Michael bid us farewell, so he could conduct another tour.

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I took the shuttle bus back to the upper parking lot, and drove back down, for further exploration of Lower Town.  I stopped, for about twenty minutes, at the headquarters of the Appalachian Mountain Club, this being the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail.  The staff and several through-hikers were encouraging of my pipe dreams of someday walking that venerable long path.

Here are a few scenes of the business district and Virginius Island. These are the ruins of Shenandoah Pulp Mill, built at Halls Island, by Thomas Savery, in 1887 and destroyed by the Great Flood of 1936.

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These days, Virginius is popular with swimmers, along the Shenandoah River and with the ubiquitous deer.

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Thankfully, it is only accessible by footbridge.

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I walked on down, to Lower Town, and gazed at the confluence of the Shenandoah, with the Potomac.

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The small fire station, which once served as a “fort” for the abolitionist John Brown, faces the two rivers, at the edge of Lower Town.

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I walked on, up Main Street, avoiding the temptation to buy trinkets.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The last stop, before heading out towards Harrisonburg, was The Coffee Mill, where the heat of afternoon called for a root beer float.

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Harpers Ferry certainly had a hard time being hemmed in by two rivers and three mountains, during the strife of 1850-1865, but it has found a place in the hearts of grateful citizens, in this day.

 

The Red Cornfields of Indian Summer

8

July 20, 2017, Antietam-

Visiting the site of the bloodiest single day battle in American history was not something I particularly relished, but in these days of sanitizing history, I am doubly determined to not ignore any lesson- nor will I pretend the horrors never happened.

Antietam Creek, the farms that surrounded it and the rowdy townsfolk who, then and now, challenge those from somewhere else, make for a difficult and compelling story.

I arrived here, right around 1:30 p.m.  A twenty minute walk around the Visitor Center, and its immediate surrounds, gave me a sense of the field of vision that was afforded Generals McClellan and Lee, as they prepared for the horrific face-off of September 17, 1862.

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The most intense initial fighting took place around a church- shades of Brandywine.  Like Birmingham Hill Friends Meeting House, during the Revolutionary War, the Dunker Church served as a makeshift hospital, for wounded of both sides.

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Many of the states which sent troops to battle have monuments at Antietam, just as they do at Gettysburg.  Here are photos of several monuments, from both sides. Pennsylvania, followed closely by Ohio, has the largest number of monuments here.  The Philadelphia Brigade’s monument is the tallest of any at Antietam.

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Indiana’s monument is also quite formidable.

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New York has several, including two which align with one another.

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The Texans, who fought perhaps more ferociously than most, have their state memorial, across the road from the New York pair.

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Georgia, likewise, has honoured its soldiers,with a monument facing those dedicated to the Union cause.

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The reality of defeat, along with the vow to regroup and press on, is signified by these stacked rifles of the Pennsylvania regulars.

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There were several farms in the area, all of whose owners stood with the Union.  At the Popfenberger Farm, however, Clara Barton set up a full field hospital, to treat the wounded of both sides.

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The Mumma Farm was a key supplier of provisions to the Union Army, and as such was a thorn in the side of Robert E.Lee.  His troops took possession of the farm, in midday, and burned it to the ground.  The Mumma family had, of course, fled to a church, six miles away, well before the Confederates arrived.

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A sunken road, to the south of the property, built by Joseph Mumma, served as a trench for the Rebels, and became known as Bloody Lane, for the thousands of casualties that occurred there.

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The David Miller Farm, west of the Mumma property, was likewise, a key supplier of the Union effort, and was also the scene of some of the most intense fighting of the day.

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As I continued on, to the southern and western segments of the Battlefield, just southeast of Bloody Lane, there is a tower, from which one can spot twenty miles, in any direction.  This was built in 1890, to provide such a bird’s eye view,

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Here is a southeastward view, from the tower’s observation deck.  The town of Sharpsburg is seen, eight miles away.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Irish Brigade, composed of  immigrants from that country, has its own memorial, at the base of the Observation Tower.  It was commanded at Antietam, by Gen. Thomas Meagher (“Marr”), a refugee from the United Kingdom.  This unit also formed part of the Zouaves, who have their own, collective monument, on the east side of Sharpsburg.  Here is the Irish Brigade’s monument.

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Lastly, here is a look at Burnside Bridge, named for the Union general, Ambrose Burnside, who miscalculated the difficulty of crossing Antietam Creek, just to the south of the bridge, and cost his troops a chance to ambush the Confederates, who were waiting in Mumma’s Lane.

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With the end of the day, there was a consensus that the Union Army, by staving off Lee’s invasion of Maryland, had turned the tide of the war.  Although the Confederates would go on to attack Gettysburg, PA, a relatively short distance to the northeast, a year later, Lee’s army would never again have the upper hand.

The legacy of war is often more war.  People can’t be forced to change their hearts, though I am certainly glad that government-sanctioned slavery, at least, has been brought to an end.  Having had enough of the Civil War for one day, I found a place to rest, in Charles Town, WV,

NEXT:  Harpers Ferry

 

 

Charlottesville

0

August 13, 2017, Prescott-

It’s rather ironic, that my journey series has reached the point where my next few posts will be about Antietam, Harpers Ferry, Harrisonburg/Lexington and Olive Hill, KY.  I did not visit the seat of the University of Virginia, this time out.  It is my late wife’s alma mater and Charlottesville is the first place where Penny heard about the Baha’i Faith.  There is a strong Baha’i presence there, to this day.  Were my fellows in faith to be given charge of this weekend’s gatherings, they may well have had white and black extremists cordoned off in one area, as was done at a Baha’i gathering in Orlando, several years ago.  It taught more than a few of them the absurdity of their positions.

Fear has a lot to do with what went on, on both sides.  Fear makes people do prudent things, like staying aware of their surroundings, watching where they put their hands and feet, not picking fights with those who could seriously cause harm.  Fear also can make people do stupid things, like assume a person, who has certain physical features or styles  of dress/adornment, is dangerous or argue a point, that they know is ridiculous, “could possibly be right.”

I believe every life matters, too.  I believe it is right to learn from history and that it is wrong to try and erase history.  There was once an emperor of China, who tried to expunge the record of every ruler who came before him.  He wanted to rewrite history, in his own hand.  It’s said that history is written by the victor, but that didn’t turn out so well, for said Emperor.  Others kept records, then, and others will keep records, now.  Those who remove our statuary are not being honest with children.  They are no better than those who gave short shrift to the legacies of people of colour, over a nearly 200-year period.  History needs to be full and balanced, if we are to learn from our errors, as a nation and as a species.

I am very saddened by the needless and premature death of Heather Heyer.  This wanton act of murder had nothing to do with a certain number of Antifa members being mixed with the anti-Nazi protestors.  Ms. Heyer was not with Antifa, nor was she “bused in by George Soros.”  She was a Charlottesville resident, employed as a paralegal.  It had everything  to do with the killer’s being an impressionable young man, of questionable emotional stability, being influenced, to some degree, by the words and taunts of a good number of Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party members.  The reactions of many of the alt-right protesters does indicate they were not out to kill those who confronted them.  The obscenity-laced comments filling the air- on You Tube videos- did, however, set some people off, including the errant driver.

It’s  long past time to start serious, but respectful and frank dialogue.  Let’s do it, anyway.  It’s long past time for the President to set a strong tone of domestic leadership, aimed at getting differing sides together, peacefully,  but nose-to-nose, if necessary.  The air needs to be cleared of the noxious.  Citizens, however, as was said this evening, at a candlelight vigil here,  also need to set the moral tone, at their level..  No far-off politician can do all the heavy-lifting, nor should a local demagogue be allowed to stir up the passions of one segment of the populace, as happened in Charlottesville.

I am not any kind of supremacist.  I am not any kind of ideologue.  I have lived long enough to know that we lose, mightily, by excluding any group, based on any physical characteristic, faith or creed.  So, on we go, without the vivacious young paralegal, who just wanted to love her community.