don’t talk to me about Global Warming

The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.
E.E. Cummings

No, the above image is not of me, but it is how I’m feeling right about now.

From the caption, you can read that this was a selfie taken by a young lady who lives
in what is considered to be one of the coldest cities in the world and just so happens
to be located in Siberia, Russia…

Instead, this is my picture…

We foolishly put up things like this in the South thinking the Weather or Mother Nature
will never take us seriously.
Well….. it/she has…
and it/she did
and crazily it has once again snowed and iced…

Twice in one Winter here in the deep South is unheard of!!!
And technically the first snow was at the tail end of Fall with this latest mess being the first “official” Winter snow.
A foot of snow in the late Fall is so unnatural and so unheard of way down here in
the land of all things cotton and peaches, only to have another snow event taking place just
a month later, well, we’ve actually begun to make certain that the animals aren’t pairing off
in numbers of two!

School, Businesses, and Governmental agencies all being, or will be, shut down yesterday,  today and some even tomorrow.

Adding insult to injury we woke to 11 degrees Farenheight, with a well into to the
negatives, windchill— making venturing forth into the snow and ice an even more
dangerous and now most unpleasant experience.

So my little sign, when I feel up to dashing outside, is coming down as I think I’ll put up
a “Welcome Spring” sign and we’ll just see if Miss Mother Nature is actually paying attention
or just delightfully messing with us instead!
My money is on she’s messing with us!!

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55: 9-11

humble past

“You may delay, but time will not.”
Benjamin Franklin


(a bible sits open on an old pulpit in the Shoal Primative Baptist Church /
Talladega National Forest / Julie Cook / 2017)

A long time ago, before cotton was ever king…


(a rural cotton field, Rabbit Town, Alabama / Julie Cook / 2017)

Or 13 colonies fought to form a new and perfect union…
the Nation of the Creek Indians called the lands of what is now Georgia and
Alabama home.

It is estimated that these native Americans had lived and thrived in this region
before the year 800 AD, as they were descendants of an even earlier people, from
what is known as of the Mississippian period.

In 1733 Captain James Oglethorpe landed in the what is known today as
Savannah, Georgia.
He claimed the land south of the Carolinas and north of Spanish Florida,
in the name of King George…as the New Georgia.

In 1752 Georgia became officially the 13th colony.
However despite the British crown’s claim to this new land,
the Creek indians continued to be the majority inhabitants and land owners
of this young colony.


(James Ogelthorpe /Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016

However that all began to change in 1760 with the continued exploration
and expansion westward by the British, Spanish and French.
Native Americans were quickly being squeezed from their ancestral lands
by a deluge of European exploration and subsequent settlers.

By 1800 the Creek Nation ceded all of their lands to the state of Georgia
and were forced to move westward…

This time they moved deep into the lands of what is known today as
the state of Alabama.
But in 1819, with Alabama being recognized as the 22nd state
in the Union, once again the Creeks were forced to relocate.

In 1830, following the orders by President Andrew Jackson,
the once proud Nations of the Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw
tribes were forced from their traditional lands,
and were relocated to reservations west of the Mississippi,
as Scotch/ Irish settlers made their way
south and west, down from the Carolinas, claiming these once tribal lands as
their new homesteads.

Around 1835 to 1840, deep in the back woods of the Alabama foothills of the
Appalachian Mountains, a small community of European settlers found a home
in a rugged area of Alabama.

These settlers were farmers, hunters, loggers and even moonshiners.

At the heart of their community these hardy settlers erected a log hewn church
to serve as an anchor for their community.
It was a building that would serve their community needs, their spiritual needs
as well as the educational needs of their children.


(Shoal Primitive Baptist Church, originally built in 1845 / Julie Cook / 2017)

Today both time and Mother Nature have each reclaimed this once small community.
Long forgotten are the voices of those first Native American inhabitants…
as well as the voices of those early European settlers.

Yet hidden deep within a mix of virgin forest and replanted pines,
resting at the end of a long forgotten rutted, single dirt lane road,
a lone wooden church remains ever vigilant…
standing the test of time.

She is a far cry from the great Cathedrals and Churches of big cities or
of far away lands.
She possess neither stained glass, gleaming silver or brass nor
ornately carved wooden fixtures.

For hers is a humble yet strong and determined example of faith.

Her small cemetery of unmarked graves whispers tales of those hardy souls
who once called these lands home…those individuals who worked the land
living and dying in the shadow of this church.


(the unmarked graves of Shoal Creek / Julie Cook / 2017)

The Shoal Primitive Baptist Church originally erected in 1845,
with the building we see today being rebuilt in 1895, is listed and recognized
as an important historic building on the National Registry.

It remains a lone sentinel of the early American pioneering spirit in an area
that is now known as the Talladega National Forrest.
This area was bought by the Federal Government and made a national park
by President Franklin Roosevelt in the early 1930’s.

The church is one of 6 remaining log hewn churches scattered throughout the state
of Alabama and still hosts special events such as Sacred Harp singings.

Inside this lovely and lonely darkened church, resting atop the single black pulpit,
sits a worn and tattered bible.

It is open to the book of Psalms….

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121

Time to expect the unexpected

“There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected:
the expected for which one has refused to prepare.”

Mary Renault

“A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes”
Mark Twain

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(premature fallen acorns / Troup Co. Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

This morning finds us turning the page once more, summoning forth yet another day and another month.
September has rather unceremoniously arrived.
No fanfare.
No gala.
No festive celebration.

Yet September, this 9th month out of 12, is truly a month of the unexpected,
the unpredictable, the unassuming. . .and albeit a bit of the unappreciated.

Obviously no one has told the tired old thermometer that Fall is all but a few short weeks away.
The mercury continues to hover at 90 as the humidity continues to cling to our very being like a sticky, hot, wet towel. . .yet the shift has secretly begun. . .
We sense ourselves sliding into something different, something changing
and something slightly new.

We are creatures of the season you and I.
Delightfully craving the ever changing and ever new which can only be found in the trading of one season for another.

We both yearn and long for what the coming change has in store for us.
We are as giddy as children on a bright Christmas morn as we’ve anxiously waited—waited to finally feast our eyes on what lies under the tree—
Our time has finally drawn nigh.

We find ourselves shifting gears as our likes and dislikes begin, once again, to ebb and flow.
Our taste palettes are now craving the savory as our surrounding palette will soon shift to warmer tones yet cooler nights and crisper days.

Our brains are screaming that the time is here yet the world arounds us seems to be stuck in place. It’s as if life is in slow motion as it appears Mother Nature may need a gentle nudge reminding her that we have had our fill of heat and humidity, bugs and pests.
Like a hungry child anxiously anticipating the hearty simmering fare on the stove, we hold our arms outwardly stretched ready to embrace cooler, crisper, softer.

Will today be the day?
Will it be a day which still thinks of itself as a child of the Summer
or. . .
will it be a day of change. . .
refreshingly clear, cool and full of the unexpected. . .

Will it or won’t it ?? Oh, and a happy anniversary to us. . .

A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.
Mahatma Gandhi

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(the ominous forming of icicles / Julie Cook / 2015)

Perhaps it derives from a sense of solidarity with our northern kinsmen—
Those hearty New Englanders who are currently burdened, as well as heavy ladened, by the 9 foot and growing mountain of snow which has beset misery and woe upon our northern brethren in oh so many weeks.

Perhaps it is because of the still painful memory of the debacle of Atlanta’s SnowJam 2014 with
visions of the interstates as frozen parking lots and children camping out in their frozen-in-place school buses. . .

Perhaps it is because we are simply tired of the abundance of cold dreary rain and are, by sheer force, willing this miserable liquid to be something different. . .

Today marks the 3rd day in recent weeks that our school systems, at the behest of the Governor, have canceled school due to snow. . .might I add that there has been no snow.

This being a cancellation of anticipation.
Hummmmm. . .
Have you ever had a snow day without any snow?

Our weather woes and worries have become a much ado about nothing sort of affair. . .as in we have been warned for days and days in advance that calamity is soon to be riding in on the snow packed Northerly winds as the southern streaming Gulf moisture rides up to meet it. . .a scenario for the perfect Winter Snowstorm meeting in the middle—it’s just that nothing really seems to ever meet in order to materialize. . . other than up in the north Georgia Mountains where such happenings are expected.

As mere mortals, we are constantly trying our utmost best to corral the fickled wiles of Mother Nature. We study radar and charts, we compare highs and lows, we listen, we watch, we probe, we dig, we explore, we enlist the myriad of satellites circling the earth like lonely buzzards over head in search of calamity and catastrophe. We pat ourselves on the back when, by chance, we actually hit the forecasting nail on the head and then are quick to point fingers, while casting blame, when we’re caught by surprise.

So on this day of standing on the periphery of will it or won’t it, while I mindlessly join the masses who are making the dutiful pilgrimage to the grocery stores in search of the vastly fleeting and survival necessary bread and milk, as once again we stay glued to the windows in search of the elusive snowflake, I want to take a moment to wish both you and I a warm and loving Happy Anniversary. . .

Anniversary you ask?
Yes, yours and mine, as in ours. . .
Two years ago on the 25th of February 2013 you and I began this little blog journey–together.
Well actually I started the journey relatively alone and by myself–as in I ventured out into the unknown blogoshpere not even knowing what a blogoshpere was. . .

But two blessed years and 859 posts later here we are. . .you and I. . .together!
What a Blessing. . . and I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

You bring me joy daily as you allow me to wax and wane, grouse and sing, vent and create. . .we support one another and we share. . .
We share the ups and downs of life–of which none of us are exempt. . .
And so it is on this 2nd anniversary of this journey we call Life, as visited via the blogoshpere, I thank you for walking by my side—it always makes a journey so much more meaningful, bearable, fun as well as magical walking side by side don’t you think. . .so thank you for taking this journey with me, by my side. . .

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26

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To bloom, to live

“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.”
― Masaru Emoto

My longings, my hopes, my dreams, and my every effort has been to live for Him who rescued me, to study for Him who gave me this mind, to serve Him who fashioned my will, and to speak for Him who gave me a voice.”
― Ravi Zacharias

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(the premature blooms of the quince / Julie Cook / 2015

What is our life but to live?
To laugh
To love
To saveur
To relish
To thrive

What of the mistimed bloom?

Perhaps it is merely a single day, maybe even two or three–an amalgamation of unseasonable sun and warmth prompting certain unseen urges. . .nudging the sleeping Giant to stir from its required time of slumber.
It does not matter that the calendar tells us it is not yet time.
It does not matter that the weather predictions are for dire cold. . .
All it takes is a touch of warmth here, a brilliant day of sun there, the tiny gained increments of daylight, above freezing nights, which each in turn sends the GO signal to all that is dormant to “come out, come out, where ever you are. . .”
Buds begin to form, pregnant with new growth and anxious to deliver.

Yet suddenly and cruelly, just as Life dreamily stirs, wiping the sleep from her eyes, the harshness of a bitter northern wind delivers the wicked punch of reality.
Winter is just getting started.

Withering
Fading
Freezing

Tender buds and tiny green leaves turn a sickly black, oozing forth life juices which merely turn into dirty ice.
Yet this dismal picture is not as bad as it may appear, all is not lost as we mustn’t succumb to our frigid despair.
It is true, the newly stunned and stunted growth, now frozen in time, will quickly die away, but Life will indeed make certain that she has her way. . .as well as the last word.

Just as soon as a wee scuosh of warmth battles for an ounce of stronghold, Life will, once again, work her magic of emergence. Her rallying cry will be heard across the land banishing the monotone shades of Winter’s white, greys and browns back to the southern hemisphere from whence it came.

Yet be all of that as it may, for the time being however, it is simply time for the Giant, which was so rudely routed from her much needed beauty rest, to return to her scared place of stillness. . .hidden well away from prying eyes. . .resting, sleeping, waiting. . .all in order to eventually breathe life back into the now barren landscape of expectation.

Lessons in a basket

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci

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(a lovely collection of flowers at a street stall in Copley Plaza Boston, Massachusetts, Julie Cook / 2014)

As I still manage to find a few treasures lurking here and there in the now mostly overgrown, rapidly declining and terribly neglected garden, yesterday’s collected basket yielded a few choice items and a few items of the unexpected variety. . .

And as I am constantly reminded, Mother Nature will prove time and time again, even in a hodge lodge basket of late season goodies, that there are always lessons waiting to be learned. . .

1.If you turn your back, even for just a moment, things can certainly get away from you. Remember to always be mindful, be not forgetful and always be watchful. Remember to seize the right opportunity and certainly don’t wait nor leave things to chance.. . because if you do, the okra will get too big and too hard and the eggplant will get too long and bitter. . .

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2. Things are not always going to be perfect—so remember, “life happens”–for good or bad. Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect plan because invariably life happens, Always take the good with the bad–because there will always be good and there will always be bad. Rejoice because there is beauty and goodness even in the not so pretty or perfect–as in again, life happens–pretty or ugly, good or bad.
Remember that an ugly tomato will taste just a good as the pretty vine mate

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3.And just when you thought you had it all figured out, something comes along, putting you back in your place and reminds you that no matter how long you live, you’ll never truly figure it all out. Remember to always remain humble, full of wonder and don’t let the surprises throw you.
Who knew that a gourd of such could be produced along side a nice yellow summer squash—go figure.

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4. And just when you thought it was over, finished, dried up, washed up, dead and gone—life seems to thankfully keep coming. When all the other vegetables have run their course and are drying and dying on the vine, the eggplant is coming on strong! Remember, never ever give up HOPE!!!

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV

knowing when is when and when enough is enough

He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.
Lao Tzu

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.
William Blake

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(the image of a dying tomato bush with a leafleg bug ready to take the remains / Julie Cook / 2014)

The air is sticky thick with humidity, it is as if the waning weeks of Summer are doing their best to suffocate the life out of every living creature before she is vanquished from the calendar.
Can we hold on until Autumn?
Until the air changes with a lightness, with coolness, with crispness?
Can we muster the strength to head out into the relentless heat of the final blasts of August’s furnace one more time to water a parched lawn, to walk an exhausted dog, to practice the quintessential game of Fall? Are we ready yet to throw in Summer’s beach towel in exchange for Autumn’s brilliant blanket of color?

As we are now left with the same nagging question. . .when is enough yet enough–when is when when?

Back when I was preparing to throw in the towel to my career in education, deciding it was time to walk away from the classroom I had called home for 31 years, there were those who clamored for me to stay. I dare say there were also those who clamored more quietly for me to “go, please go. . .” but the question more often than not asked was “how did / do you know it’s time?”
How does one know when when is when and enough is enough?

I’m not sure if my answer would be the right answer for someone else wrestling with a decision of knowing when is when but it was one that worked for me. My decision was certainly expedited by my Dad’s failing memory, but it was also hurried along by my oh so very stress ridden and tired body. I had spent a lifetime shoring up my physical self, patching here and there, swallowing this and that just so I could keep going. You know the old saying, a sick teacher is better than a substitute any day.

It helped to some degree that I had also witnessed first hand other individuals who had stayed longer than they should— those who had long lost their charisma, their passion, their vitality, their stamina, their enthusiasm, their enjoyment, their patience, their “love”. I did not want to be that person.
I needed, wanted, to go out on top—not just for my own sake, but for the sake of the program I had spent a lifetime forging.
So, after 31 years, the time had come, when enough was truly enough.

I say all of this as I find myself sitting on the cusp of one season slowly waning, soon to give way, thankfully, to another season. I forged a valiant fight in the garden this year. I documented the journey starting back just shortly after Easter, when the soil was still cold from a lingering winter.

We journeyed, you and I, throughout the early harrowing attacks of wandering and maundering deer, armadillos and raccoons. You read of my battles to stave off a keen and cunning enemy armed with nothing more than Irish Spring soap. You read of my frustrations and wonderment as you shared the images of the emerging fruits of my labors, as well as the later heavy laden baskets of the plethora of the harvest, along with a recipe or two.

Yet I must say, that the time draws nigh as it is soon time to cut and till under the dregs of this season’s work. It is soon time to put away the trappings of this year’s garden, as we will merely wait until the time arrives for next year’s garden—the very garden my husband says, once again, will not be happening.

I know it’s time when the weeds outnumber the plants. When the ants threaten to make off with me as their mounds could possibly swallow me whole, when the maypops sprout, when the tomatoes “fire up” as a slow drying and dying begins to take place. . . and when, most surely, the leaf legged bugs arrive.
And yes that is their common name. . .

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They are the Coreidae–members of the hemipteran, suborder Heteroptera—kin to the stinkbugs but thankfully, do not seem to emit an odor or perhaps it is overcome by the decaying stench of rotting tomatoes wafting heavenward.

Each year, late August, these alien looking insects descend upon my remaining tomatoes with a vengeance—with this, more or less, being a direct result of my having allowed them to move in. Days may pass before I venture out to what is now an overgrown and overrun patch of land that once held great promise. The heavy heat and humidity, and the endless battle against weed and insect, all by late Summer, has witnessed my having thrown in the towel, allowing Mother Nature to take back what is rightfully hers.

As I pick through the dried and dying vines, seeking the dregs of remaining ripening tomatoes—those spared black rot or still intact and not bursting on the vine from the ill effects of late rains, I am nearly knocked over by the ariel assault of leaflegs fleeing my encroaching presence.

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The official end of Summer is upon us next weekend with the annual return of the long Labor Day weekend’s last hooray. This is our signal, our beacon, our cue that change is forthcoming.
I for one do not need a calendar to be reminded. I have the leaflegs. These alien like insects who act as either harbinger or hearalder of the change of things to come.

The time for when is now as it is more than time that I’ve had enough—

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“The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.”
― John Adams