Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hypnotic

Ten hours passed from the time I fell asleep to the time my eyes opened. Emerging from dreamland, I forget where I am, but slivers of dawn coming through the louvered blinds provide enough light for me to I see. I am in a four poster bed - not my bed. Reoriented, I know I am at The Farm, a log home shaded by towering pines, surrounded by several hundred acres in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

Though I think mine is a fair question, I have never asked, Otis, why do you call this a farm? Yet, nearly every time I have turned through the rugged stone columns, that question comes to mind. Crossing the threshold of the entrance, you gradually ascend to the first of two humpbacks. At its pinnacle, your gaze is drawn downward to the perfectly manicured grounds, and the centerpiece of the landscape - the lake. A boat house, dock, ascetically placed benches, Adirondack chairs, and trellised vineyards are only a smattering of the artistry the biblical Adam's offspring use to follow the injunction to tame and cultivate their world. With that, do the images I describe evoke the succinct, two syllable description The Farm?

Nonetheless, I am staying in a log house, at Scarborough Farms, where Tennessee Walkers are raised and trained to compete (but never planted and harvested to eat).

I pour my fresh brewed coffee into a thermal cup and am out the door shortly after daybreak. Ever present are the four dogs. One is named Lou; the others I just call Dog 2, Dog 3, and Dog 4. They love people. I no more than crack the door when I hear them tearing through fallen leaves to greet me. I continue out the door and cross the deck. I am like the Pied Piper and his entourage as Lou, Dog 2, Dog 3, and Dog 4 follow me stride for stride toward the rising sun. In the crisp morning air our breath trails behind us and dissipate. Squirrels, who differ little from the dogs, except in size and the ability to climb trees, are chasing each other around a large oak, spiraling upward like the stripe on a candy cane. Bark is flying as they scamper skyward. Neither gravity nor my presence has any effect them.

To read and write is my purpose for hiking to this spot, but the canines are driving me crazy. Lou continually drops sticks and pine cones in my lap - she wants to play fetch. I don't. I decide I will feign sleep. A few minutes pass, and I cannot hear or smell the dogs. In a really sneaky way, I open one eye to see if the dogs have abandoned me to look for someone or something less boring. Doggone dogs are gone (The old act-like-you-are-asleep trick worked)!

Steam is rising through the sipping hole in my coffee cup like smoke through a chimney. Just as a helium balloon will rise higher and higher, earth's star is floating higher and higher above the edge of the world it scaled just minutes ago. Horses are peacefully grazing just beyond the fence - the only barrier that separates us.

Where I stand is a thin place - the thinnest of barrier separates the physical from the spiritual. I am comfortably alone.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oops!

My last blog went out in rough draft form. Although my grammar is "nuttin to rite hoam bout. It iz fixt now. Wel - itz mor betta;-)"

Monday, November 9, 2009

HIgh Ground and Low Branches

Seated on high ground, beneath an oak tree whose leaves are making the autumn transition from green to a burnt orange, I am able to look down and across the entire length of the pasture that thoroughbred Tennessee Walkers call home. Some are chestnut, sorrel, roan, and black in color. Some have matched and mismatched stockings. Some, a blaze on their chest or above their eyes. Some were born this spring, and they are just like kids. No reason is needed for them sprint across their playground, kicking up their heels and clumps of sod. The sun has willed itself above the treetops, and the billions of dewdrops, that sparkle like diamonds, are slowly evaporating, or nourishing the roots of the rolling acreage before me.

I passed up an opportunity to hunt this a.m., and chose to write and meditate with my feet on the ground, rather than dangling in thin air. When the desire to craft one's thoughts and observances into prose strikes, I think it is probably like the inspiration that an artist experiences, but colors are his ink, a brush is his pen, and his pages are made of canvas. When I need to write the compelling will not pass without being satisfied.

Itself invisible, a breeze sneaks up behind me. Its stealthy nature is betrayed by the shower of oak leaves that tremble and slide by me on a slant. Each time the sky exhales, acorns plop and rattle the dry, fragile leaves. Temperatures are heading south from a low of 41 degrees. It is cold enough to wear my dark western duster; a long oilcloth coat, that stiffly drapes down to the top of my cowboy boots. I think dusters are cool!

Yesterday, with horses between our knees, Josh, Cary, and I threaded between planted pines and along trails cut through scrubby oak and brambles. We crossed an earthen dam, zigged and zagged around trees, and ducked under low hanging branches. From time to time, I hung onto the saddle horn as I leaned forward looking at forest floor for scrapes and rubs - signs that the rut had begun (makes you feel like a cowboy, even if you are one of those rhinestone kind). Speaking of cowboys - I rode Cowboy, a handsome sorrel, with a long smooth gait, and a compliant temperament.

Josh rode Chalk, who is a bit cranky and rebellious. Watching Josh handle a horse, it is obvious that the thin Native American bloodlines, found on both sides of his heritage, converged in Josh. He is an incredible rider and has that mystical bond with equines that our country's indigenous people were known for. He is a gifted young man that I am so proud of and so love.

Josh has spent a couple of nights with me at the farm. Last night we both wretched and gagged as we watched the Yam Dankees win the world series. Saturday is Josh's birthday, so Miss Meagan, our perfect daughter, is driving to Columbus from Milledgeville to celebrate with a group of us that are going out to a secluded place to shoot skeet, build a fire much bigger than we need, do lots of talking and philosophising, and more than likely see one day end, and a new day arrive. Father and son are very much alike in that way. For us, there is no greater gift than the gift of God's ingenious creation.

(My apologies to those of you who received this blog unedited. Sometimes I am more grammatically challenged then others)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Man on the Moon and One in a Treestand

Even the darkness will not be dark to you, the night will be like the day. For darkness is as light to You. ~ Psalm 139

Beneath me is a food plot shaped like an L, and it wraps around the northwest corner of a 10 acre dove field. To the east, and just above the treeline, the full moon has appeared in broad daylight. Though it is daytime, it is only slightly dimmed. I can clearly see its most distinguishable and notable characteristic - the Man on the Moon.

The night is like the day. For darkness is as light to you . . .

Hmmm. I wonder if just such an image inspired King David's words? I know it is a mystical sight and causes my heart to muse on the Divine. For me, God has made nature a significant spokesperson. The created world truly makes the invisible visible. My spirit is refreshed and encouraged when . . . The heavens declare the glory of God.

I am doing the rough copy of this post while sitting in a tree stand with a crossbow by my right side. Technically, I am hunting. But not really. Actually, disappointment will not show up if a deer does not. Soaking in the sounds, identifying different types of trees, the smells, and the amusement I get when dusk's shadows play tricks on my eyes and imagination (subtle movement of shades of light can make a bush look like a buck) keeps me entertained.

Earth and moon are drifting apart. Around me - my world grows dark. Above me - the heavens begin to glow. Rays from the sun, which I can no longer see, are bouncing off the pocked surface of our natural satellite. The Man on the Moon's silhouette is clear and sharp and dapper.

I took the bolt from the crossbow and disarmed it; legal shooting has long passed. Now, I am content to watch two does cast moon shadows as they cautiously approach the table spread before them. Though at first wary, they have settled in and are peacefully grazing. They have no idea I am 15 feet above watching their every move, and enjoying them for the magnificent creatures they are.

Perched on this moonlit pedestal it occurs to me . . . I, too, am finding nourishment. For my soul. Through God's created world. A nourishment a venison steak could never provide. Quickly, cooling Georgia night begins to chill my nose and cheeks and exhilarates me. Yet - at the same time - a warmth and soothing fills me. Why? Because in the midst of so much sensory awareness it has occurred to me . . .

God is just above me. Watching me. Enjoying me for what and who I am.

Even the darkness will not be dark to you, the night will be like the day.