Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bird's eye view

Earlier this week Kim came in carrying a package she'd found by my front door. It turned out to be a gift from my Aunt Shirley, youngest of my dad's siblings, and it was a book created by her son, my first-cousin, Jason.

I've never met Jason, who is half my age and lives more than 600 miles away. He's a helicopter pilot and a talented photographer, and his book of aerial photographs took me on a happy journey to places very near Springfield, Missouri, the town I still consider home.

This afternoon I've spent some time browsing beautiful photos on Jason's website, Now I'm really homesick.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another Brick in the Wall

Pink Floyd sang, "All in all you're just another brick in the wall." In the context of the song, that lyric seems intended to point out the lack of importance of a single individual to the grand scheme of things. That's one way to look at it, I suppose. On a bad day. Usually, I see bricks in a different light.

One brick alone may not be much more than a doorstop or a paperweight, a useful object, but one that won't garner much attention. A lot of bricks together, though, can become buildings: churches, schools, and very sturdy houses (remember the three little pigs). And each individual brick is important to the completion of the building.

It works the same way with us human "bricks." When we stand together, our combined strength can accomplish great social movement. Unfortunately, it's also true that a lot of brick-headed people working together can quickly throw up walls that prevent progress. That's happening a lot in our nation these days. It makes me sad.

I wonder when our leaders and our extremist mobs will recognize that when they build stand-alone walls, they don't have much. A wall that doesn't meet and join with other walls will never be a cathedral. It can only be an obstacle.

I worry sometimes because so many "bricks" in our society seem to be crumbling. And I wonder what kind of mortar it will take to put us back together again.

Friday, September 10, 2010


In a recent phone conversation, my younger daughter, Kelli, casually asked, "So, have you seen "Swamp People"?  I hadn't seen it, so she told me about the people featured on the show, an assortment of Louisiana folks who make their living hunting alligators.  Because we both know a local attorney/State legislator who hunts gators as a hobby, I was kind of intrigued.

After we hung up, I checked it out on the Internet, watched some video clips, and learned that the first three episodes were going to be shown back-to-back on the History Channel last Sunday night.  This didn't seem like the kind of show I would normally find interesting, but I was curious enough to set the DVR to record all three episodes.

Late Sunday night, after I'd watched my regular Sunday TV lineup, I thought I'd just take a quick peek at "Swamp People" and then go to bed.  Oh. My. Gosh!  I was hooked every bit as tightly as the huge alligators shown thrashing about on these Cajun men's heavy-duty, chicken-baited hooks.

Midway through the second episode, my older daughter, Kim, came to pick up her pooches that had spent the weekend with me.  She sat down to watch with me for a minute and stayed all the way to the end of the last episode.  

I'm not sure what fascinates me most about this show. The scenery is certainly part of it, reminding me of the quiet, natural beauty that thrilled me on my own trip into a different but equally wild swamp (which I wrote about here, here, and here), and also my visit with Kim to a more tourist friendly swamp (which I shared with you here).

The show is worth watching for the scenery alone, but it's the people I find myself thinking about after the show is over. I'll admit that a couple of them initially gave me "Deliverance" flashbacks, but I quickly got past that and came to like them. I like some of them a lot. They seem to be honest, hard-working, and extremely family oriented.

If you're turned off by the antics of the "Jersey Shore" kids and the various sets of "Housewives," you might find "Swamp People" as refreshing as I did.   Full episodes are available on the "Swamp People" website in case your Sunday nights are otherwise occupied. If you decide to check it out, be sure to let me know what you think.

Photos in this post were taken at McElroy Swamp,
Sorrento, Louisiana, in March 2007,
the last one with a long zoom lens.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The joy of a gentle breeze

Yesterday morning I opened the back door to let the dogs out for the first time of the day.  When I opened the storm door, a stiff breeze caught it, whipped it out of my hand, and sent it swinging on its hinges to bang against the house.  A breeze!  A little gust of honest-to-goodness fresh air!  It seems like such a long time since I've wanted to hold my face up to the sky and inhale deeply.

This summer has been a brutal one, its harsh heat interrupted only by frequent afternoon showers.  And for each minute of cool rain, we paid a price in higher humidity.  On days like that, a deep breath felt like drowning.

I've stayed in the air conditioning as much as possible this summer, and so have Butch and Kadi.  They haven't even wanted to stay outside long enough to roll in the grass or patrol the fence line.  They'd run out, do their business, and race back to the house.  This morning, though, I saw them lying happily in the grass.  I envied them the freedom to do that without worrying about what the neighbors would think.

On days like this I wish I had a hammock.  I imagine the peacefulness of being cradled by canvas and rocked by a gentle breeze.  (I try not to imagine myself struggling to get into or out of the hammock; those mental images are why I don't have one.)  There'd be a book in my hand for a while, then it would lie on my chest while I napped.  The sun would be shining, but I would not be hot.

I know summer isn't over.  I know there are more steamy days ahead of us.  But the lower than usual temperatures yesterday and today have planted seeds of hope that relief is on the way.  Seeds of hope and seeds of joy.