On his 102nd…

George Rufus BessHad he lived, Daddy would’ve been 102 years old today, October 16. The son of a slave and the consummate farmer, George Rufus Bess loved his land, his livestock, and he always seemed to have a crop of some sort growing in the fields, some of which we helped plant, tend, and harvest.

I’m recalling the many mornings we were up before the crack of dawn to either pull tobacco plants for planting later in the day, or emptying the barn of tobacco that had cured to make room for that day’s harvest.

I’m recalling days spent pulling weeds from the corn, soybeans, tobacco, and the garden.

I’m recalling days spent removing the “suckers” from the tobacco stalks; we couldn’t have those suckers sucking the life from those prized tobacco leaves!

I’m also recalling evenings spent shelling peas or butter beans after a day in the tobacco field. If not shelling peas and butter beans, we’d sometimes shuck corn at the hog pen fence. Even if we weren’t thrilled to be doing it, the hogs loved it.

Hmmm, I’m even recalling the time we actually tried to ride the hogs! We’d jump on their backs while they were at the fence feeding. That didn’t work out too well, though, and we’d end up on the ground and hopefully not in a mud puddle.

Yes, Daddy was a farmer and I’m a farm girl. It wasn’t an easy life but as I’ve looked back over the years, there’s nothing I would take for these memories or for those experiences because they made me who I am.

I captured these pictures Sunday on my way to Daddy’s sister’s house and am posting them in his honor. Daddy died when I was 15 so we didn’t get to spend very many years together. I’m grateful, though, for the time we did have, for his love, and for his continued presence even after he transitioned.

Honeysuckle

This picture of honeysuckle blossoms is more of a roadside theme but I couldn’t resist adding it here.

Cotton boll

The pure whiteness of this cotton boll is remarkable!

Cotton field

A field of cotton

Millet field

A field of millet

Pond

I pass this pond on my way to and from Little Ocmulgee State Park.

Reminiscing

After spending the afternoon with my brother roaming around the countryside, visiting cousins, and eating garden-grown tomatoes, I sat with my laptop to find pictures of butterflies and dragonflies that I’d taken while on the road or here in the country. In the process, I came across the pictures I took while in Boise, Idaho and was reminded of the wonderful couple of hours I spent there.

I had passed Boise before realizing that I’d missed the state capital so I doubled back to photograph it. On my way out of town, I stopped for the restroom and discovered the Boise River flowing through the campus of Boise State University. What a thrill that was!! I parked next to it, grabbed my cameras, and headed to the river. The occasional student walked by but for the most part it was quiet and very peaceful. The water flowed rapidly and various trees and flowers lined the riverbank. I even came across a cluster of mushrooms unlike any I’d ever seen. The scene was absolutely beautiful! Or maybe it was the energy I was feeling that made it seem so. But what made it even better was discovering later that others were experiencing that same engulf of energy at the same time that I was.

I was headed to Provo, Utah and really needed to be on my way but that warm, peaceful energy kept me glued to that spot. I walked back and forth along the river, pausing occasionally to stare at the water as it flowed to its destination. I snapped photo after photo of the water, the trees, the flowers and the spider that rested on one of the park benches. I kept thinking that I needed to go but I simply couldn’t pull myself away.

With renewed spirit and energy, I reluctantly made my way to the car almost two hours later and was on my way. A few hours later, I was crossing Snake River Canyon on the Perrine Bridge, 486 feet above the Snake River, into Twin Falls, Idaho. I discovered while at the bridge that Twin Falls was the site of Evel Knievel’s 1974 motorcycle jump across Snake River Canyon.

Directions in hand, I headed to the jump site the next morning but was unable to get as close as I’d have liked but while snapping photos of the canyon, the river and jump site, I engaged an elderly gentleman who was out for his morning walk to tell me about Knievel’s jump. He didn’t live in Twin Falls at the time of the jump but shared what he knew about it. We talked for over an hour, too, about his trucking job, his California home, and his retirement to Twin Falls as well as politics and the price of gas.

While spending the afternoon with Aunt Ida Mae Sunday, we watched Tyler Perry’s ‘The Family the Preys’. It’s a great movie and aside from those last dramatic scenes, I especially enjoy the road trip scenes. I sat there Sunday smiling and reliving the freedom I felt being on the road. Aunt Ida Mae, my daddy’s sister who kept track of my journey, said, “That’s what you did, isn’t it?” and I wistfully replied, “Yes, it is.”