Another dirt road kinda Sunday

It was a dirt road kinda Sunday again today, and it started the same way the others did: at the garbage dumpster. I drove St. Paul Church Road (SPCR) again but this time, I drove roads I hadn’t been on since the 70s!!

My route took me from SPCR, past Rabbit Road then onto Opossum Road, which I drove until I reached Meadowlark Road. I made a right onto Meadowlark and drove it for a mile or two before making my way back to Opossum Road. My travels then took me down Coyote Lane, a road I hadn’t traveled since the 70s.

I made these shots along the way and stopped to visit a friend, but she wasn’t home. CL didn’t appear to be home either so I kept moving.

On my way out of Coyote Lane, Ernest J. was sitting on his porch so I visited with him from the car.

The lane to Terri’s home place was nothing like I remembered, but it was good seeing it nonetheless.

I asked Ernest about Jackie’s home place, but I didn’t make it by there today. Maybe next time.

PS: I headed home via Hwy 19 to County Road 75 and passed a pond on my left. I backed up, stopped IN the highway, and made my pics.

The bright side of Irma: nature, butterflies, and love

On my birthday

As I awakened to the dawn of my 54th year, I lay there reflecting on my one life and all the challenges, changes, and beauty I’ve seen during the course of those years. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m thankful to have recognized that I wasn’t alone on the journey. I’m thankful to have recognized, too, that the journey wasn’t all about me.

I’m thankful to have realized that for all the times I may have fallen and come short, I can finally acknowledge and accept that I did the best I could with what I had at the time.

I’m thankful for the release that came from hearing Mother Maya Angelou when she told us that “when you know better, you do better.” I’m so thankful that as I have learned better, I have done better.

No, it wasn’t always easy, but I’m forever grateful for the heart and mind for transformation with which the Almighty graced me. It was He who helped me see myself and others as He sees us, a gift that gave me understanding and compassion during those times when I didn’t understand who I or they were being…during those times when all I wanted to do was just cuss and say, “to hell with you!”

I’m thankful for the many days and nights of tears, tears that freed me from decades of repressed emotions and that freed the butterfly I always knew was trapped beneath all the pain, fear, anger, inadequacy, and insecurity. It was a cauldron of emotions on which I’d spent many years keeping the lid tightly sealed, but as that little girl demanded her freedom, it became more and more difficult to do so.

Then, one day in 1996, while confined to my bedroom after surgery on a broken ankle, that little girl’s demands became more than I could repress. At the insistence of my big sister Sheila (Stanley Bowser), I made the call that set in motion the transformation of a lifetime! I obtained the name of a psychotherapist from the insurance company, made the appointment, and began the reclaiming of Lydia. It would be a few years before we got around to releasing the emotions, but we did that, too.

When I look at my life today, I am thankful for the peace, the contentment, the happiness, and the passion I feel. My life today is the opposite of the life I was living in 2010 when I gave it all up to begin traveling light. I’ve had moments—ok, weeks, maybe even months–of fear and panic, wondering what was going to happen to me, where I was going to end up. Thankfully, though, I found my way when God showed me the beauty of the season I’m in right now. Through Joel Osteen, He implored me further to focus on the beauty and all that I do have instead of the burden of what I don’t.

What I see now are the blessings. The blessing of family and friends who love me, support me, and who have opened their homes to me during this continuing season of growth and change.

I see the blessing in experiencing God in nature almost daily in parks and by rivers and lakes in various cities.

I see the blessing in being able to photograph those God moments in ways that will inspire others. How satisfying to hear from a viewer that those photos are a source of inspiration, peace, and calm.

So, while my life may not be what it used to be, I am eternally grateful for what it is. I am thankful, too, for every person who has supported me in ways too numerous to mention as I move through this season, which, quite honestly is the second best time of my life!! What’s the first, you ask? That would be my cross-country road trip.

Oh, there’s one more thing that I’ve realized, and it’s that I’ve embarked upon yet another journey that I know will take me places spiritually—and probably emotionally and physically, too—to which I’ve never been, and I’m very excited about it!

As I end this post, I’m reminded of a line from Gil Scott-Heron’s song ‘I’m New Here’. In it he says,

“No matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around.”

I hope I’ve said something today that will inspire you to turn around.

With this post, I’m including a few random photos I made over the last few days. I hope you enjoy them.

Winter weather advisory

Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill texted notification of a winter weather advisory this morning that reminded me of last week’s “snow storm” that left roads jammed and motorists stranded. I was out of town at the time, tucked safely away from the pandemonium created by the two inches. It was cold and drizzly down on the farm, but we didn’t get any snow.

It’d been a few years since I last saw snow in Atlanta, and I was regretting not being there to experience it. At that point, you see, I wasn’t thinking at all about the black ice that turned a five-minute drive into two hours that January night in Hiram, Georgia…the black ice that forced me to spend the night in a Hiram hotel rather than drive the 40 plus miles home to Riverdale…the drive that had me longing for a shot of Jack Daniels to calm my nerves when I finally made it to the hotel.

roadsouthNo, all I was thinking of that day on the farm were the photo ops I was missing and that I wouldn’t get to see the wonder on the faces of my little nieces as they experienced snow for the first time. But then Mama and I took a break from watching Gunsmoke and Bonanza to tune in to the weather reports out of Atlanta. Wow, what a shift!!

After hearing reports of drives taking seven hours or more that should normally have taken only 30 minutes; of drivers running out of gas and abandoning their cars; of drivers, teachers and students spending the night away from home, I decided “I’m good.”

With that, I suited up for the misty cold, grabbed my camera, and headed down the country roads of home. I saw plants I’d never seen, took shots of the streams my siblings and I played in as children that, like us, have also grown up.

I ventured off-road into areas I’d never noticed before, areas my brother GB was shocked to learn I’d gone because of the wild boar that hung out there. I didn’t see any trace of them, but what I did see on the walk back to house was an animal that exited the woods several yards from me, sensed my presence, and paused long enough to check me out before heading on its way. I thought it was a dog initially, but discovered that it had left hoof prints instead of paw prints. I described it to Mama and GB, but neither of them could tell me what it was and subsequent web searches have been fruitless. The only regret I have from that day is that I didn’t get its picture.

Goodbye to a friend on his birthday

We would’ve been celebrating Tony’s 53rd birthday today had he not transitioned on December 30, 2012. I only knew Antonio Wise a few years, having met him in Jackson, GA one Sunday afternoon when my car wouldn’t start while en route to Indian Springs State Park.

Antonio "Tony" Wise

Antonio “Tony” Wise

He offered to drive me, Ava, Savanna, and Ceilene back to Riverdale, but we road with the tow driver instead. Because he was waiting to hear from me about the ride and his phone number was in my truck which was on the flatbed, I had to wait until I was home to let him know we’d made it.

Tony and I talked for several hours that evening and became good friends. From day one, Tony opened up to me about his childhood and his life, and it was obvious that he carried a lot of anguish. He’d lost his mother from an illness at a young age, but was fortunate to have two aunts who loved him. The few years I knew him, he was suffering and in pain most of the time but it never stopped him from doing what he had to do. I was often amazed and encouraged by his tenacity and determination and wondered how I would respond in similar circumstances.

Tony was more than a friend to me; he was also my brother. His body may have been failing him, but Tony’s heart was golden. I lived alone at that time, and he always checked in to see if I were ok or needed anything. If I did, he was right there and whatever he had, he was willing to share and often stopped by with a bag of this or a bag of that.

We both enjoyed a good laugh and always managed to have one when we were together. There were times, though, that he tried my patience but our talks about what was really going on served to strengthen our bond.

Tony’s relationship wasn’t limited to me; he also developed relationships with my sister Ava, her husband Frank, and my nieces remember him as the man who helped us in Jackson and who gave us sodas that day we were at his house. He attended family get-togethers, too, and got to meet my mother as well.

Mama

Mama

And if anyone knows my mother, you know you don’t just meet her; she’s an encounter! She’s going to find out who your people are and either engage you in a discussion about Scripture or regale you with stories and side-splitting jokes. Tony was no exception. Whenever he’d ask about her, it was always with a chuckle about something she’d said. “Your mama is a trip,” he’d say.

I spoke with Tony several times while on the road. One conversation in particular was on the day I was exploring Chuckanut Drive in Washington state.

Knowing he was having health issues, Ava tried to stay in touch with him, too, but both our attempts had been unsuccessful. I left him another message (and can even recall the highway scenery of that moment), and he called a little while later. I was out photographing the creek at Oyster Creek Inn when we talked and he told me that he was scheduled for more tests to determine what was causing his continued weight loss. If anyone had reason to be discouraged, it was Tony but he remained hopeful that everything would be ok.

We talked again while I was down home on the farm after returning from my road trip, and he was still sick but remaining hopeful. After that, all of our calls went unanswered.

Back in Atlanta, I learned that my nephew knew the manager at Tony’s last place of employment and had him inquire about him. “Tony’s a good guy. He called in sick one day, and we didn’t hear anything else from him,” is what the manager said.

Ava and I continued calling and even went to his last known address. It was a gated community, though, so we couldn’t gain access. Ava then suggested I google him. I did, but found nothing. I googled again a few weeks later and found an obituary for Antonio Wise of Atlanta. Unsure if the obit were for our Antonio Wise—and hoping that it wasn’t—I reached out on Facebook to a few people on the registry but heard nothing. I went back to the obituary a few weeks later and found a couple of email contacts. I wrote them–a niece and a friend–and learned that the obit was indeed for our Tony. His friend graciously provided a phone number and filled me in on Tony’s last days.

That conversation was over a month ago, and I still find myself pondering Tony’s life, a life that ended a couple of days before the new year began. I wonder what he thought about in those last days, if he knew he had friends who loved and missed him.

As I write this, it seems that I’m still mourning my friend, a friend whose life was filled with pain and suffering but also filled with love, generosity and hope. We didn’t get to say goodbye, Tony, but know that you’re often in our thoughts and will always be in our hearts. Rest in peace, my friend.

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