“Yeah. The road’s starting to break down, isn’t it?”
“Well, maybe. But I was just thinking it looks like my facial skin feels after I get out of a hot shower in the morning.”
“Oh. And it also looks like my lips when they get chapped.”
Mick and I were walking and when it’s just you, a country road and 1.5 hours of time together, these are the kinds of conversations that happen.
For the past two days, we’ve walked 4.5 and 4.0 miles respectively. Our paths have been different four square mile routes and we’re discovering quite a bit of brand new information about the area in which we’ve lived for the past eight years. For example, someone close to us sells goats. That was brand new information.
There is a “Two Bears Creek” on Coffee Creek Road and the owners of the land adjacent to the creek put two baby ceramic bears out by the road, in case anyone needed a smile.
We identified at least three different kinds of animal poo, decided the neighborhood association needs to sponsor a “trash pick up day,” saw some rats, took a peek at the police firearm training facility, checked out some Angus cattle, found a perfectly good sun protector (those kind that fold out and keep your car from turning into a convection oven during the summer), and yelled at a couple of bluejays.
One other thing…I think I asked to stop at least twenty times because for the past two days the sunsets have been amazingly, outrageously, incredibly, georgeously lovely… Continue reading Hubby Walks→
We had a gift waiting for us six months after we built our home. I’m so glad I discovered it serendipitously. To have known about the magnetic call of our back yard whippoorwill before the bird revealed itself would have been less magical and made the first time we heard the sound expected. The way our whippoorwill revealed itself, however, was to become the difference in an evening chorus of tree frogs and lingering day songs from the birds who were almost done for the evening.
When the human brains register a “difference,” the first notion is to test the new feedback out. “Did you hear that?” I asked Mick as we worked in the last hint of light, raking up twigs in our back yard?
“What? No, I didn’t hear anything,” he replied.
I heard it again, ever so slightly more pronounced. “THAT,” I said. “That sound. It’s a bird call I’ve not heard before.”
When rakes stop scratching and attention is completely directed toward the collection of incoming sounds, then the world changes. Here is exactly the sound we heard together after pausing that evening:
And, we are blessed to hear it every Spring around this time. All told, I’ve enjoyed eight years on our back porch listening to the call of the whippoorwill end the day. He comes into auditory range when it reaches the bottom of our hill around the creek. The beautiful sound grows more pronounced as the bird gradually moves along the treeline up the hill, passes across our back yard, and then continues on its path until it is out of range for our ears as it crests the top of the hill.
The process, in some ways, is like a one-hour long doppler effect. Barely there, and heard at different wavelengths than when in immediate proximity, then changing again as it goes away. The sound is beautiful, but the bird is by and large elusive. It stops singing if you approach the area where it rests. After all, WE are not the mate it is looking for.
But when she responds, and they mate somewhere outside the range of our eyes or ears, the result is one or two eggs that will eventually hatch into more birds with hauntingly beautiful voices. The sound is so powerful that some Native American lore states that when people die, the whippoorwill catches the soul as it leaves their body. Continue reading Lessons From The Whippoorwill→
“John Delgado of Los Angeles, California, would you please meet James at the Lighted Cross? Mary Mayernik of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, would you please meet Martha at the Lighted Cross?”
Ruth and I looked at each other in awe, then we asked our parents, “would someone REALLY come that far just to see the Easter Pageant?” Typical responses ranged from “Anything’s possible with God,” from our mother, and from Papa, “Oh probably just someone stationed at Altus Air Force Base or Fort Sill.”
It was hard for me at age seven to fathom that an Easter Pageant held outdoors in a wildlife refuge in Southwestern Oklahoma could possibly outshine anything the East or West Coast had to offer, but it did. Perhaps it was the location, with the permanent buildings built in the 1930s that gave the Pageant the authentic look of the Holy City.
I am thankful for Christian parents, who, even when money was tight, still took us to the Easter Pageant every year. Preparation for this annual event began early on Saturday, the day before Easter. Papa would gather the sleeping bags, extra blankets and a tarp or two. We would add our pillows to the pile. Mama would get out the picnic basket and ice chest. She would spend the morning making chicken salad sandwiches and other goodies for a picnic supper. By late afternoon, we were packed and ready to go. The pageant didn’t start for another 10 hours, but Papa insisted on getting there early. He wanted to make sure we had the perfect spot for viewing the pageant from the mountain side where the audience sat.
The drive over on Old US 62* seemed to go on forever, but a mere 45-50 minutes later we arrived, parked and unloaded the car for the short trek to our viewing spot for the night. Once we set up our viewing area, we headed off to walk thru the Holy City. Strolling thru the various replicas of buildings from the life and times of Jesus left us in a sense of awe, as though we were really were in the Upper Room, or the manger in Bethlehem. My favorite was the chapel. Built to resemble Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where President George Washington worshipped, once inside you truly felt like you had walked into Jerusalem via the murals painted by artist Irene Malcolm.
At sunset, we gathered on our sleeping bags for a picnic supper served by Mama. The Lighted Cross began to glow behind us as darkness crept over the mountainside, now packed with thousands of people. Before settling in for a long nap, Ruth and I would walk up to the cross, just to see who was paging whom. Snuggling into our sleeping bags, we eventually drifted off to sleep amid the hushed conversations of the families around us.
Promptly at midnight, church choirs and music groups from around the area would began singing gospel music. They entertained the gathering until a few moments before the official 2 a.m. start time. The final notes of the music faded as did all light on the pageant side of the mountain. A hush fell over the crowd that quickly escalated into ooohs and aaaahs as the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth unfolded before us. Papa and Mama always stayed awake for the entire pageant. Ruth and I sometimes fell back asleep. No one however, slept thru the final scene. Continue reading The Easter Pageant→
I only get one Twitter-feed directly texted to my phone, and that’s from Gary England. Therefore, when I hear a little whistle coming from my smartphone, it’s either a text from one of my family members or a weather alert. Both are important. Yesterday evening, it was weather alerts.
Throughout the afternoon, an intermittent message came through that activity was possible. But as the 7:00 pm then 8:00 pm hour rolled around, realtime activity was being tracked within the Oklahoma borders, with more coming northward from Texas.
Alan Broerse, News 9 stormtracker, watched three tornadoes drop from this particular supercell and reports that it was “an awesome storm to be on…” Well, I suppose that statement is a matter of perspective, but from someone highly trained to do this kind of thing, I’m sure it was.
It’s THAT time of the years, isn’t it? I’m sure we’ll see much more of Alan’s work, Gary England, Val’s team, Rick Mitchell, Emily Sutton, Mike Morgan…and more. Hopefully, just not TOO much.
How strong is the power of the Western Sky? Powerful enough to make my eyes check all the mirrors, then my speed, then the shoulder…until they find a safe place. A place where I can let go of my responsibilities as a driver, and accept the freedom of Sun Worship once again.
Worshiping a God who gives me this image upon which to gaze is the only choice my psyche has; it is hypnotic-esque. The horizon woos my spirit into a slumber by showing me the soft grey blanket of cloudy mist she is slipping over the End of the Day. She tugs at the blanket, creating fingers stretched so that they almost touch together the top and bottom of my view.
“I’m tucking in the Day,” she whispers. “Are you safe? Nice and tight in within the loving force of the Life you lived today? Are you ready to bid my Sun farewell and welcome Twilight?”
It’s not really a series of questions from the Horizon to me as it is the Final Call. “Last round of the daylight, soak it in while you can!”
The Horizon’s voice is gentle, soothing, reassuring.
Grateful once again…no, grateful forever…I breathed out the last breaths of day, and inhaled the first breaths of twilight. Then I got back into my car and drove home through the twilights mists until I reached my driveway. By the time my tires turned toward the house, Twilight was in full force and the Horizon was sleeping. Dreaming. Dreaming as she rotated around Mother Earth until she met Oklahoma once again on Sunday morning.
The morning passed with fury. Meetings in Oklahoma City were followed by a drive to my campus 65 miles from point A toward…meetings in Stillwater, point B. Concerns and mid-semester blusters stirred the pot of our academic soup du jour; the odor wafting from this churning fare was neither inviting to the students nor the faculty. “It’s what we’ll eat, because we must,” They collectively agreed through classes commencing and adjourning, research haltingly progressing, activities completed for reasons no one easily articulates.
The day progressed, the halls grew quieter, the chatter in the air sputtered and eventually silenced, punctuated with only an occasional interjection as my building cleared and light switches were pushed into the downward position. The College breathed a sigh of relief as those with beating hearts left their work for another day; its windows watched as the academics filed into the parking lot, engaged their various modes of transportation and headed toward the next segment of Life.
My one-hour drive home was not yet halfway complete when I realized the pain coming from my hands was due to my death grip on the steering wheel. My white knuckles shined like eight surrender flags to my bloodshot eyes, sending a signal that had taken twenty-four miles to reach my brain. The channels between my hands and brain were too clogged with traffic jams of Outlook calendars, publications, advisees and search committees to become aware of the beacons being sent over and over: “Stop. Stop. Please. Stop. Stop. Please. I mean it. I said Please.”
My myopic, rigid and focused view of the road ahead of me slowly dilated until it reached the width of my windshield. Once expanded, my view shifted toward more of what lie ahead of me than simply the speeding asphalt and yellow or white lines. There was, in front of me, a fragment remaining of the Day. A remnant of what I almost missed was there for the taking because my subconscious took over my knuckles and screamed, “Hurt her. She’s not hearing my gentle voice. Shake her. Please. I mean it.”
Beyond the windshield, through the shatterproof glass, past the pale of the Way Home lie a Holy Place. I pulled my car over, compelled to find it. The shoulder wasn’t far enough from the Way Home. I pulled off the road until all four wheels rested on the dead grass and damp earth, pushed the gearshift toward Park, breathed out and turned off the ignition. I heard…nothing. I felt…tension. I needed…space.
I exited my car, white knuckles helping the death grip of my keys remain secure. I headed toward a hill adjacent to a pastureland which was adjacent to my Space. Black high heeled boots and soft earth wrestled during my ascent but I didn’t know it. My brain was focused on the need for space. The need for…this: