Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Selma musings

Staring at the map from here in central Alabama I searched out places to explore nearby. Right away I noticed that Selma was only a couple hours away.

Why did I not know this? Why have we never visited before?

Selma on a pretty Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, predicted to be a day filled with sun sandwiched by days of rain, seemed to be the time to go to Selma. So I did.

Armed with a map of Alabama for backup I memorized my route, I-85 to Montgomery, then highway 80 into Selma. I didn’t really figure how much time either leg would take, just went for the ride. I’m retired, I can take my time.

The trip started in grey fog, cold and damp.

I passed miles and miles of cotton fields, shorn of last year’s crop, waiting in the damp fog for spring.

Let me tell you, there’s a whole lot of nothing between here and Selma. Even the southern part of Montgomery wasn’t particularly interesting. Though I did see a miles long line of cars there, waiting, I’m guessing, to get their vaccines, complete with sheriff’s cars, lights flashing, managing the crowd.

That brought me back to reality. I’d been hanging out at the lake, no national news, sort of losing track of what was going on out in the rest of the world. That line of cars, all those people waiting, woke me up to the fact that things are still crazy dangerous.

Eventually I was driving through an area with strip malls, empty commercial spaces and tiny brick houses. Up a slight rise and I realized, with a quick intake of breath, that I was going over the bridge.

Suddenly I realized where I was.

The bridge where on March 7, 1965, Bloody Sunday, marchers for civil rights were met with violence. The bridge where just last year John Lewis’s body, in it’s casket, paused for a national moment of reflection.

I held my breath as I drove slowly over it and into the town itself.

I took these images after I had parked and walked back over the bridge. I walked over the bridge a total of 3 times, the light just kept getting better.

I parked near the bridge and walked back over it, stopping to take pictures of the backside of town, and of the river.

The Alabama River was still that morning. So was the backside of Selma.

There’s was a moment, at the top, where I had to stop and just be. I imagined what it must have been like, sounded like. Felt like. It seemed like a sacred place, even with cars speeding by only a foot away.

If these steel beams could talk.

Then I walked around downtown a bit. It’s in a sad state of disrepair. The whole place needs a huge cash infusion.

Closed for covid? Or closed forever?

I don’t know why there aren’t tours to be had. (Though there was one young man who offered to give me a tour.) Why there’s not a 1960 diner with chocolate malts or strong coffee.

No diner, but you can get a haircut!

Why there’s not a welcome center with a documentary playing around the clock in a little theatre off the main display hall.

Jubilee headquarters.

There is an interpretive center a few miles away, but I doubt that contributes to the revenue of Selma itself, and of course it was closed due to covid anyway.

A pretty staircase to nowhere.

There’s some beautiful old buildings, some are kind of restored, some are in disrepair.

I don’t think they had a room available. But not because they were busy.

There are several huge beautiful churches.

The Blue Jean church.

There was a bit of eccentric art here and there.

This poor little ghost was the character in a local author’s books, and moved around town as part of a promotional effort several years ago.

In fact there was an air of eccentricity over most of the town.

After market additions to this souped up chevy.

I found a couple of pretty places.

A Rotary Club park, with mural and benches where buildings once stood.

But mostly what I felt was sad. Sad that this piece of history is only acknowledged on anniversaries, or this past year, the death of John Lewis.

I hope this Board of Education building doesn’t reflect the condition of the school system. But it might.

Sad that I grew up during the period of racial tensions (the ones back then, they’re still going on, I know.) and I didn’t really have any idea.

I didn’t see a lot of evidence of living the future.

Sad that, if I’m honest, I still don’t really have any idea.

A little park, also falling into disrepair, at the beginning of the bridge.

The town seems stuck in 1965, it’s moment of fame, but there are people living here that have been left behind, just like people in small rural towns all across the country. People in big cities too, if we’re being honest. Places where money and technology just don’t reach.

I agree, the name of the bridge needs to be changed if this town is ever going to move forward. Doesn’t have to be the John Lewis Bridge, but that would be nice too.

It’s a huge problem with no easy answers. But if more people visited Selma, found ways to spend some money here, maybe at least one historical place would begin to move forward, respecting the past but moving into the future.

Sagging under neglect.


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A fleeting moment

Yesterday started out with fog but ended up warm with sunshine filling my space.

It was 70F with sun by the end of the afternoon!

Like most evenings since I’ve been here, there wasn’t much of a sunset even though there were a few floaty clouds overhead.

Wispy bits float by

The sun quietly slid below the horizon while I was busy talking on the phone.

Evening falls on a fine day.

It was a good way to end a day I’d spent mini adventuring. More on that in another post.

This morning, just like a certain sheltie-girl who will remain nameless, the light woke me at 6 a.m. The strange glow in the room had me leaping out of bed searching frantically for my clothes and then the camera.

Because this was outside:

This hasn’t been edited. This was the color I wasn’t sure I was seeing.

The whole world was orange and I knew it wouldn’t last.

It looks like a sepia photo from my grandmother’s time.

Sure enough, after only a minute or two the grey fog began to creep in, damp on my cheeks and the camera lens.

The fog moves in, obliterating the light.

And the whole world changed to grey.

Turned to black and white.

But wasn’t that orange moment worth getting up early for!

Katie says that would be a lesson well learned.

I have faith the light will return.

Edit: If you want to see an extraordinary sky, check out this post from 3 years ago about now when I was down here with Katie-girl.


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Feeling a bit suspicious

Katie here. I had to borrow daddy’s ‘puter cause I can’t find mama’s laptop. To be truthful, I can’t find mama either.

Morning

But I don’t want to admit I’ve lost her. After all, it’s my job to know where she is all the time. And trust me it’s not easy, especially with my propensity to nap and her propensity to wander. Mama’s always moving around on me. I rest my eyes and when I open them again she’s in some other part of the house.

Only this time I looked in all her favorite places and I can’t find her!

Clouds

I think she’s playing hide and seek with me, and I think she seriously needs to cut it out! There must be a secret room somewhere in this house, and I’m going to find it.

Right after I rest my eyes.

Barn

So anyway, it’s a good thing I can find my dad. He’s been really good about taking me on walks and making my supper and stuff. But I still wonder where mama is.

Visitor

Hey! I just had a thought! Do you think she’s off adventuring without me? No, that can’t be it. Mama would never leave me behind.

She’s not off taking pictures of stuff that’s not me is she?

Artsy-fartsy

Making new friends?

Horses

Exploring new places? Or…..no this couldn’t possibly be it….she’s not off exploring some of my favorite places without me.

Road

Is she?

Reflections


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Take a walk with me. But bring the map.

As you know I’m in Alabama. You’d think it would be warm being in the South, and it sort of is. It’s warmer than up where I came from. But it’s not really warm.

Looking at both sides.

I arrived late Friday night. Saturday was cold and rainy, but Sunday the sky brightened and turned into big puffy white and grey clouds and it got way up into the 60s! I just knew I had to take advantage of the weather, so I headed over to Smith Mountain.

The beginning of the fire road around the mountain. One of Katie’s favorite places to walk. Mine too.

You’ve heard me talk about Smith Mountain before. You can climb up the mountain and then climb up a fire tower that sits on top of the mountain and you have a glorious view of Lake Martin.

From another year, another hike up the mountain.

It’s one of my favorite things to do, but I didn’t do that on Sunday.

No, Sunday the parking lot was full of cars when I arrived and I didn’t want to deal with a fire tower filled with masked or unmasked people. Plus I wasn’t in the mood to climb the mountain.

So I took the walk around the base of the mountain. It’s one of Katie’s favorite places to walk, a big fire road that circles around to the back of the mountain.

The water is low, but the area behind the mountain is still beautiful.

She and I never tried to go all the way around the mountain, because I wasn’t sure if the road actually did that and I didn’t want to get stuck with her and have to make her walk all the way back. So we usually turned around on the backside of the mountain.

She was never happy about turning around.

Little stuff caught my attention too.

So this time I thought I’d just see if the road (which I used as a trail, though it is not part of the trail system, went all the way around. It made sense that it might end up right back at the parking lot.

Lots of interesting shapes and colors.

I was so confident I didn’t look at the map posted at the beginning. I figured it would all work out. I also didn’t take any water. And I accidently left my phone in the car. But I had my camera, so all was good. Right? Of course right!

Such pretty colors on Sunday!

I stopped and got lots of pictures, and when I got to the spot where Katie and I always turned around I figured since the road/trail continued, a nice wide path that had obviously been used, I’d just keep going too.

Hmmmm, are the clouds looking kind of stormy?

Eventually I got to a spot that said “To the tower this way,” and “To the parking lot this way.” Bingo! The parking lot was only .4 miles away! (disclaimer, I was already sort of tired and was disappointed it was .4 miles away, I figured it should be around the next corner.)

This looks promising!

So I kept going on the nice wide path, covered in pine needles. Which got narrower and narrower and there were no more signs and it didn’t seem to be going in the direction that I thought the parking lot should be.

Eventually I saw a pink mark on a tree, and I thought “GOOD! At least I’m on some sort of trail. Maybe I can figure out where this goes!”

Is this trail really going anywhere I want to go?

But shortly after that I saw houses off in the distance where there should be no houses, and water on my left when it should have been on my right. And I knew this was not going to get me to the parking lot. Plus I’d been walking a long time and surely had traveled .4 miles by now.

So I turned around and went back and eventually crossed a trail that had a blue mark painted on a tree and I figured maybe that was a good sign (if I’d looked at the map I’d have known I needed to stay on blue!) Using the sun as a guide for which direction I was going I headed out, hoping it was toward the parking lot.

Maybe THIS is the right way.

A fisherman came the other way and I asked him how far to the parking lot (acting like I KNEW I was on the right path) and he said about half a mile. Sigh. But at least I knew I’d get there eventually!

I see a car!!

When I finally made it to the parking lot I smiled a lot, and then I studied the map, and figured I had taken some of the blue trail, some of the fire road, some of the pink trail and a whole lot of who knows what. I wasn’t at all sure where I’d been, but it sure had been pretty!

When I finally got home I had sweated through my shirt, sweatshirt and jacket. I opened all the windows, and enjoyed the lovely breeze.

After a long drink of water I decided to download the pictures, and noticed that the memory chip that belongs in my camera was sitting on the kitchen table. Which meant it wasn’t in my camera during that walk. Sigh. Double sigh.

I was really sad.

Monday it was very cold, no sun, sleet and rain. No walking around the mountain for me.

But Tuesday, oh Tuesday was bright and sunny! Not a cloud in the sky. I set out for the mountain, determined to retake the best of the pictures I’d gotten on Sunday. And ready to figure out the right way to walk around the mountain.

OK. Here’s the map. I’m sure you’d have had no trouble figuring this out. But most of the fire road isn’t even ON this map.

I studied the map again before I started out. I even took a picture of it in case I needed it out in the field. I am a slow learner, but I eventually figure it out. The fire road isn’t on the map, but it connects two sections of the blue trail and you need to stay on the blue trail to get back to the parking lot…except when it’s a white trail. Either way, DO NOT GET ON THE PINK TRAIL.

Tuesday was windy, with no clouds. The tall pines were waving in the breeze.

And just before I started I checked my camera to make sure the memory card was in there. And remembered this new camera has 2 slots for 2 memory cards. And guess what? There were two memory cards in there.

It was a beautiful day, not as warm as Sunday, so I wore my winter coat.

Which means there was probably a memory card in the camera on Sunday. Which means that the pictures I took on Sunday were probably on that other card. Which means that I really didn’t have to walk around the mountain again.

Pretty stuff everywhere. But pay attention to where you are this time.

Except I really wanted to prove to myself that I could figure out the right trail.

So I did.

And here’s what I learned. It might apply to life in general too.

When you come to an choice of paths to take and there are no signs, and one path seems easier, wide and sunny and covered with soft pine needles, and the other path looks tough, uphill, rocky and narrow, take the harder path, and look for signs that you’re on the right one.

This is where I made my mistake on Sunday. See that path to the left? I never saw it. The sign that says parking lot .4 miles? It has an arrow that points slightly UP. The correct path is the one on the left. The easy path is the one on the right. But that takes you to the PINK trail! WRONG WRONG WRONG!

The easier path will never get you where you need to go.

And that’s the truth. Every place I had to make a decision, if I took the easier choice I never saw a blue (or any) mark on a tree denoting the correct trail. So I’d backtrack and try the other option and there would be that comforting mark.

Even when it seems like you need to be a mountain goat, follow the harder path, it’s the right one.

Every single time if I took the harder option I soon learned I was on the right trail.

Keep your eye out for trail markings, those blue rectangles mean you’re heading in the right direction.

Let that be a lesson for us all.

If you just look there are always signs to point you on your way.

And may you always find your way, following your own personal markers in life.

Signs of spring.

PS: Happy birthday, Dad. I’m at your house, adventuring in some of your favorite places. I know you’re with me. But you would have looked at the map first. I know. Lesson learned. 🙂


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Window of Opportunity

There was a weather window of opportunity and I took it and ran. In between major storms crossing the country were a couple of snow free days.

Interesting sky made me stop in mid-Indiana farm country.

It’s fourteen driving hours from my home in Michigan to our lake house in Alabama. And that’s if I only stop for gas and bathroom breaks.

Can’t resist a red barn glowing in what little light there was.

Seriously? What are the odds I only stop for gas and bathroom breaks?

The the sun began to fight it’s way through the clouds and this farm lit up.

Either way that’s two long days of driving, and this trip I had a meeting to attend virtually too. That’s an hour a half spent sitting in a parking lot while on the phone, making no Southerly progress.

They must have had an ice storm the day before, when the sun came out I could see the trees were covered in thick ice.


But on the whole I had a nice drive, the roads weren’t bad, traffic wasn’t horrible, and I got to see some pretty stuff along the way.

I stopped only five hours away from home but after more than seven hours of traveling, in Columbus Indiana. After checking into a room, I went out looking for something to eat. I ended up following the road right into the next town over, Seymour.

The bridge looking back toward the west.

Which happens to have a stinking cute bridge that perfectly frames their county courthouse as you travel west to east. I didn’t get a photo of that because I didn’t have my camera with me that evening, and because there was nowhere to park. So you’ll have to image driving up over a winding entrance to the bridge, and bursting out at the top to see the tower of the courthouse framed in the red tubes of the bridge.

An almost whimsical building, with fussy details and beautiful colors.

I went back to Seymour the next morning, found a place to park in town and explored the bridge, and the courthouse grounds.

This modern sculpture next to the more victorian architecture of the courthouse struck me.

I couldn’t resist checking out the tall sculpture, even though it meant more walking and it was a bitter 17F degrees.

Reaching toward the sky.

Turns out it is the county’s homage to their fallen war veterans. The interior walls are scribed with names and dates. And letters home.

There were long letters, and short, each with the name and date of death of the author. Some were killed only days after sending the letter home.

It was heartbreaking.

A grandson’s love.

After spending almost an hour wandering Seymour I figured I’d never make it to Alabama at the rate I was moving south, and I got back in the car, resolute not to stop again until I needed gas.

Five miles down the freeway I glanced to my left and saw white farms shrouded in a layer of fog rising from the snowy fields under a blue sky. And there was an exit right in front of
me.

Couldn’t NOT stop.

The fog was freezing thick on everything.

Nature’s art.

I was on a narrow country road with not another person or car in sight. So I stopped for quite a long time.

Frosty fencing.

But I knew time was flying by and I’d only progressed a few miles down the road, so as the sun rose I tore myself away, and headed back toward the freeway.

One more image. Really, only one more this entire trip. 🙂

By focusing on the road and not the pretty sights I finally made it to Kentucky.

Kentucky had snow on the ground! I chose to think of it as cotton instead.

But do you know what they have a lot of in Kentucky? Yes, you are right.

Saw this guy from the freeway, and there was an exit right there!

I only drove a couple miles down one little road which was running right next to the freeway and I found three barns.

A little jewel.

I call that a worthwhile diversion.

I turned around here, I’m sure there would have been more just over this hill.

Someday I’m going to have to visit Kentucky instead of just travel through it.

And then there’s Tennessee…

I always enjoy this sculpture at the Tennessee welcome center just across the state line from Kentucky.

… which thankfully is a narrow state if you’re traveling north or south. So I could feel like I was finally there when I got to the Huntsville Alabama welcome center.

Celebrating Alabama’s contribution to space exploration.

Of course it was a false sense of being home. I still had four hours of driving to go.

Welcome home, ya’ll.

By the time I made it all the way to the house it was dark, so no views of my lake. But I knew it was out there, and that was all that mattered.

I had a great trip down, and for those of you wondering where Katie is on this grand adventure, well, she is having some dad time at home. I thought about bringing her, she hasn’t had an adventure in a long time, but mama needs to get some sleep and Katie is a persistent little girl who has decided she wants her breakfast somewhere between 2:30 and 4:00 a.m. Every single day.

All I have to say is good luck daddy!

Remember you can make any image bigger just by clicking on it. I’ll see what I can find pretty down here, it’s raining this morning, but it’s not snow, so that’s a win in my book.

Talk later, as my girl says, time for mama to take a nap.

Edit: I thought that grey barn felt familiar. Turns out 2 of the three I found on that road this trip were featured in a post I did in June of 2018 on my way down to Alabama!


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Saying goodbye to the seasons of 2018

Seasons come and seasons go.

Spring

Summer

Fall

Winter

So long 2018, you showed me lots of pretty things but I’m looking forward to finding even more amazing and beautiful images in 2019.

And Happy New Year to all of you, dear readers, Katie and I appreciate your visits to our blog more than you know. We wish for all of you a wonderful 2019!


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I could use a bit of heat, light and holiday spirit

It’s been almost a week since I posted last. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it and all of you. Ideas for posts have slipped through my mind. Bits and pieces of stuff most instantly forgotten.

Fleeting morning light.

I’m distracted and I don’t know why. Could be that it keeps snowing and it’s cold. Could be that we haven’t had more than a few hours of sun in over a week. Maybe it’s the 7 day forecast which shows more snow coming.

And did I mention the cold?

Winter arrived early.

I have no plans for Christmas other than to take the dog for a walk somewhere fun. Unless it snows. Or maybe because it snows. She likes snow.

Me? I don’t think I like snow all that much any more. I remember as a kid having fun building snow forts and sledding down hills and ice skating on the lake. But these days I hurry the dog along on her walks and when she’s outside doing her business.

Quit being a drama queen mama, it’s not that bad.

It’s cold.

Why is it that when you’re traveling and it’s cold it’s fine, it’s part of the adventure. But when you’re home and scraping ice and snow off the windshield in the early dark morning it’s just about too much to bear?

Sometimes snow, sometimes fog. Sometimes both.

Alabama calls me.

But I’m trying to be a responsible adult and I have commitments here in Michigan that I need and want to honor. The most pressing of those being the Christmas concert I’m playing tonight at a local high school. I made a commitment at the beginning of the season to play a certain number of concerts. The dates were provided at the start.

To bolt for warmer temperatures now would be wrong.

Katie says she likes the cold and I should get over it. Katie doesn’t scrape the windows of a car whenever she wants to go to the park.

Can we go play now?

Maybe I should work on my Christmas cards to lift my holiday spirits. On the other hand so far we’ve received only three cards, one from our stock broker, one from Katie’s kennel, and one from an exceptionally organized friend.

It’s possible I’m not the only holiday spirit deprived, disorganized and distracted person out there.

Holiday spirit from another year.

If you need a holiday boost and you’re local, stop by the Clarkston high school tonight about 7 and hum along to some music in a warm auditorium.

I promise any snow you see there will be fake, but the holiday spirit will be real.

Happy Holidays!