05 September 2011

The Yearning.

Why are some of us attracted to waters?  Is it the need to imbibe, purify or to just listen to the rush of water over rocks?  Or maybe it’s the aroma that comes from a mountain stream or the freshness that arises from Piedmont rivulets.  Whatever it is, it pulls on me, like a magnet to steel.
Once again I have that yearning to be not just near water but to be in water.  One of my beloved streams would be Hitchcock Creek near my place of birth.  My adoration for Hitchcock Creek started at an early age.  During the summers of my youth I would visit my grandparents and my grandfather would walk me through the woods down to Hitchcock Creek for some fishing and nature time.  At that point in time I was much too young and to cross or wade the creek on my own.  My grandfather would hoist me onto his broad shoulders and we would wade and cross to find good fishing spots in the creek.

He was a carpenter by trade, grew his own fruits and vegetables and the fish he caught from Hitchcock were also used to feed his wife and three daughters.  I have wonderful and fond memories of my grandfather.  He was a gentle giant and soft spoken, and when he did speak, a hush fell over the room.
Once again I find myself between the banks of Hitchcock Creek.  It seems to change every time I visit but at the same time it remains the same.  There are rocks in that old tributary that never move.  They’ve been there all my life and will probably be there for generations to come and I like that.  Those rocks create closeness or a kinship that I adore and yearn for.
Today I spent a couple of hours fishing a small upper section of that wonderful stream of water.  The water itself was very low despite the abundant rain we’ve had this year.  The chest waders I donned could have easily been left at home.

  With the water so low, I walked farther upstream to the dam knowing that the deepest waters would exist there.   It did not take long before I caught several redbreasts, one crappie and a rambunctious largemouth bass in addition to three rock bass.  I quickly released all the fish for another day.

It is the first week of September and the signs of autumn have already begun to show along the banks.  Leafs are starting to show those amber hues and there is a fragrance in the air that invigorates my lungs.
I have spent countless hours in and around Hitchcock Creek.  I’ve caught hundreds of fish from its waters.  It has been a fixture in my life for 46 years.  I’m certain if I were to move away that I would make annual trips to visit Hitchcock Creek.

Because of the combined efforts of the city and American Rivers, it will become an official Blue Trail.  Hopefully then, more people can enjoy the beauty of Hitchcock Creek.  I look forward to that day, I will journey those waters in my kayak.

I find its natural beauty unmatched.  In the 10 to 12 miles that serpentine to the Great Pee Dee River, there are very few signs of civilization.  My time in the water today must come to an end for I have to return back to civilization.  The waters of that creek have renewed me once again, I feel contented.
“Water is life's mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

20 August 2011

Lawn Mower Man

Most of this weekend has been a time to catch up on choirs and the sometimes necessary cleaning of that which is called “home”. I was fortunate to have Friday off from work, so I decide to get started on the cleaning and housekeeping. Let’s start with the yard. Have you ever noticed how much the grass grows when you are away from home? A lot! The past two weekends had me out of town so the yard has been, let’s say…neglected.
For starters, the weed eater stopped working and I had to go buy another one. Bummer! With that done, I don my mp3 player and head to the yard. I have a fairly big yard that I choose to push mow for the calorie expenditure. It’s an excellent way to get in at least 3 hours of walking.
So I’m now about an hour into the job when I notice something slithering across the yard in front of the mower. Of course my first thoughts are “snake”. I have no fear of them and have learned to identify the poisonous snakes in my area. To my pleasure, it’s a beautiful glass lizard.

They mostly eat bugs and are very fast despite the fact they have no legs. The little boy in me emerges, I want to catch it and move it away from the mower.
Remember I said they are fast. I spent the next several minutes trying to catch it by hand. If it only knew, I was trying to save it from the clutches of the lawn mower blades. Finally, I get my hand on the speedy little creature.
Once in hand, I take time to admire the beauty of it and as I walk it across the yard to the safety of the nearby woods, what do I get for my efforts to save a life…a swift bite on the finger. My first reaction was to pull away which made the bite worse. The little fellow actually drew blood. However, he now roams free and I’m sure he’s boasting to his other lizard friends how he escaped the clutches of the human.
Nature is awesome and I encourage you to get out and explore it. Sometimes it’s right there in your own yard.
“A man is related to all nature.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

28 April 2011

The water never stops flowing...

Like a lot of areas in our life, the river is overflowing and hurrying along. It’s sometimes at a rate that’s hard to keep up with. At times, it seems that we may not be able to make the trip down that river. Rough waters await and we feel uneasy or apprehensive about our journey. Yet, at the same time we are excited about what will unfold around the next bend, what beautiful sights we will behold on the river of life.
Uwharrie River 2009

As I look at the picture, I see that the trees are budding with new life and the earth is becoming new again. It’s almost as if the river is washing away the old and ushering in the new. Just ahead of me are two friends. They are there for the same reason I am. To experience life, to share in the beauty of this place we call home. I also look at them and realize they are there to catch me if I capsize, to save me from the waters, to make sure I complete my journey and experience. We are all bound by the same spirit, or force that once created the river. Finally, I look at the picture and see the beautiful blue sky. It is filled with that spirit or force that connects us to every living creature. It’s overlooking all that we do, all of the time. It is the bond that unites us with the river. By paddling down this river I am experiencing life and by sitting on the bank I’m watching life go by. Both have their qualities and benefits. I would prefer to experience life as I drift down the river.

The River Summons!

I awaken by the desire to drift on a lazy river someplace. Maybe it was remnants a of dream or just the instinctive desire to be near water. Whichever, I decide to head toward water. My ship is small but quite worthy; it will navigate the waters I have chosen. I gather my essentials and load my equipment…it is nice when your ship will easily fit in the back of a pick-up truck. My portage requires about 40 minutes of driving time to arrive at the water’s edge.

The air is lukewarm but it’s a beautiful morning under cloudy skies. The drive to the water is beautiful. It’s along a serpentine blacktop that traverses the countryside of one of the bordering counties. With the windows of the truck rolled down, I welcome the fragrance of spring. Ah yes, the aroma of fresh trees, flowers and fresh air.

Screeeeeeeeech….I quickly come to a stop in the road. What’s this? Something impedes my travels, a detour, and a long way around. Don’t they know? I need to get to the river. Well, it seems that there will be quite a few chickens that will not have to go the slaughter house. However, I believe the only survivor was the “chicken truck” driver.

Finally, I’m at the water’s edge. The river is flat, mirrored and inviting. Once on the water I paddle up stream to the bridge. It’s a very tall bridge from the boat. I paddle further to the see the remains of the old bridge, now nothing more than a wide column of rocks with trees growing from it. I would have loved to have seen the old bridge. I’m certain it was dignified in its day.

Just past the old bridge I encounter two Canada geese. They are squawking and honking in disapproval but otherwise ignore me. I spend approximately two and half hours on the water just drifting and paddling up and down stream. It has been a good morning. I needed that time on the water; the bond with nature was also needed. I will return.

If my ship sails from sight, it doesn't mean my journey ends; it simply means the river bends.

26 April 2011


The morning greets me with the gentle sound of rain falling. I lie there listening to that rhythmic noise. My body feels stiff but rested from the night of sleep but the rain excites me; I arise from my slumber to open the windows in the house so that I may hear the sounds of rain and smell the freshness in the air. There is no scent like that of a falling rain. It fills the air with a newness that is unmatched. The air outside is warm enough to don shorts and tee shirt. I decide to go outside sans shoes to embrace that luscious rain. The cool, supple wet grass feels great underfoot. It makes me feel like a youngster in the rain. It’s thoroughly exhilarating. I am always dismayed when I hear someone say that it’s, “such a crappy or lousy day”, when it rains. I always beg to differ, it’s a splendid day.

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots.

25 April 2011


It has always been evident to me that anything worth having doesn’t come effortless. In other words, nothing is free, you have to work for it or earn it in some way. So it’s the same when it comes to gardening. You have to work that soil; you have to keep plants watered, especially here in the southeast. But hopefully, the end result will be a beautiful and bountiful garden.

The broccoli and bib lettuce are looking good. I have also planted 6 varieties of tomatoes, sweet banana peppers and some cucumbers.
I’m reminded of a quote:

Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.

02 April 2011

Feed the Need

As I climb from my bed, looking at the windows; no sunlight yet. I check the clock, 5:40 am. Even the sun isn’t awake yet. I drag myself down the hall for the morning ritual. Feed the two cats, make coffee and check the weather. Checking the weather means walking outside to get a bona fide feel for the temperature. Weather gurus have no idea what the temps are in my neck of the woods. It feels great out there, around 40 degrees. Perfect for running and it should get a bit warmer into the run.
The plans today; go up to Bethel Baptist Church for a Boogie Loop. The Boogie is a 50-mile run conducted every June on a 10-mile loop starting at the aforementioned church. It’s a very hilly course in which one doesn’t seem to ever catch his or her breath. However, it’s a very beautiful course that crosses Mountain Creek and parallels the Great Pee Dee River along Grassy Island Road.
Bethel Baptist Church sits on top of Pea Ridge which extends across the northwestern part of the county. We meet at 8:30 am for our 10-mile run. The skies are very clear and you can see for many miles over into Montgomery and Anson Counties.
I am joined by fellow runners, Rosemary, Jerry and Kyle. Just the four of us embark on the hills of Ellerbe. As always, the beginning miles are slow and lethargic; body is trying to loosen up. The course has one hill that we affectionately call Bethel, its 1.5 miles long. We run down that hill and then back up for the first part of the loop. After descending and then ascending Bethel Hill we now have 6-miles remaining. Kyle and I have split from Rosemary and Jerry. Kyle is a tall lanky 24 year-old that can run like a gazelle. Even though he is running well within himself, I’m struggling just to hang with him. I like to run with Kyle. He restores my confidence that all of the youth of America are not lazy and non-ambitious.
We all finally make it back to the church under gorgeous and much needed sunshine. That vitamin D feels great. We say our goodbyes and head back to our homes. From there, I make a trip to the store for some plants. Today a planted broccoli and lettuce along with two raspberry bushes. Hopefully, they all will grow into something edible.
Today has been a good day. More and more I find deep appreciation for the small successes in life. I end with this quote:

The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you've had. ~Author Unknown