Monday, June 06, 2011

Downed Poplar, Snapping Turtle, Chuck Berry

Today I worked again at Nandina Hills. The Hills have had a tough couple of weeks. About ten days ago a storm uprooted a huge double trunked Tulip Poplar which fell toward the house from 80+ feet away, and quite a ways lower in elevation. The crown of the Poplar tore holes in half the length of the roof (of a house three stories in height the base of which was already quite higher than the base of the tree) and sent limbs through the roof into various upstairs rooms. This was a seriously big tree, possibly close to 150 feet in height. There was a hole about 15 feet across and 6 or so feet deep from the root ball.

The next week another smaller Poplar went down in the other direction across the fence into the neighbor's yard.

The yard also has the tallest Sweet Gum tree I have ever seen outside of Congaree Swamp. Hope it stays put.

I got to play with a very big Snapping Turtle today. His (or her) carapace was maybe 16 inches long and he was chillin' in a little temporary pond formed after the rain. Apparently he has taken up residence on the property. It's quite possible he was/is as old as I am so wanted to afford him all due respect, but I couldn't resist getting him to snap a few sticks of various sizes in two, nor could I resist picking him up a little by his shell and watching his huge legs flail.

I was kind of hoping to see a Water Moccasin today...OK, well, maybe not...but I was worried a little about them given all the frontage on the headwaters of Forest Lake near to what we used to call the "second spillway" growing up in the hood. A lot of water was pouring through the spillway today.

My knee held up pretty well, especially given the extremely hilly and rocky and generally uneven terrain. I tweaked it a few times but not badly.

No deep thoughts today - was just glad to get through the day OK...

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Setter, Church, All Time is Present to God

I was waiting at the light at Trenholm and Forest Drive yesterday behind an SUV, and sticking his head out of the back window was an Irish Setter who looked a lot like Clancey. I haven't seen many Irish Setters lately and kind of wonder if the breed has gone out of favor. It was nice to see an Irish Setter again. Here's a picture of Clancey...

Clancey Wet

I should be in church right now I suppose. I don't say the following for sympathy and it feels kind of pathetic/loserville-ish to admit it, but going to church these days is just hard. I usually spend the time dealing with a flood of emotions rather than focusing on worship/word/fellowship, and find myself looking to get out as quickly as possible so I don't have to talk to anybody. I hope that, before too long, maybe after the dust is settled, it will be different.

I worked hard in the sun yesterday and though I was somewhat winded my knee held up pretty well. There are still things I can't do and I have to build endurance but I am optimistic.

I worked in a yard in which the homeowner grew up, and which has become overgrown, and I uncovered a whole bunch of items that seemed to tell a story of years past - young children at play and gardening projects mostly. It doesn't take long before vines and trees cover up our histories. It is wistful to think of stories told by these items, and the memories embodied perhaps in them, but noticing this history adds meaning to my work. It's not long before the memories of our lives fade entirely. That would seem very depressing to me except that I do think our memories are held intact in the mind of God to whom and for whom all time is present tense. So, oddly, imagining Him seeing and knowing and understanding these life stories and "seeing" them "now" is comforting.

Well, maybe I'll make church tonight somewhere...

Friday, June 03, 2011

Storms, Four O'Clocks, and Overalls

The storm Thursday night in Columbia was the fiercest I have seen in years. Two large oak trees snapped in the property behind my sister's house and took wires down with them. The wind had that loud whooshing sound it has when you worry about worse things...

I love sitting out in the carport or on a porch watching and listening to storms. This was a favorite past time of me and my dad when a good summer storm would whip up - and the more thunder and lightning the better. In later years in Greensboro I enjoyed standing on our little front porch with my daughters during a good storm - and sometimes when threat of lightning was passed running around in the rain!

I never realized how much I loved and missed the sound of wind rushing through tall Loblolly, Shortleaf, and Longleaf Pine trees. It's different. I like it.

Just before the storm hit the Trenholm Plaza area yesterday I spent an hour with a new friend and customer who lived nearby, walking around her garden and talking about what she would like to do in this place or that. In her back garden she had mostly white and blue flowers. I suggested she consider an old favorite of mine, a beautiful flower and plant I enjoyed as a child - Four O'Clocks, and white ones in particular. Four O'Clocks have beautiful foliage, a lovely flower that opens late in the day and through the night, and what I think is a wonderful and unique aroma.

And then there are the seeds, the little black hand grenade-looking seeds that are so easy to collect and sort and replant. I used to collect them in Dixie Cups as a kid, each cup labeled by the color of the flower from which the seed came.

Four O'Clocks grow in sun or part shade. They grow seemingly as an annual but propagate from their seeds and come back each year from an underground tuber.

I told the nice lady that I'd send her a picture of Four O'Clocks, but the only pics I could find had me in them! Here is one from 1977...

Joel and Four O 'Clocks 1977

I think overalls need to make a fashion comeback. Maybe if I lose 30 pounds they will look even cooler on me...Yes maybe my true calling is to be an overalls model...:-)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

First Day of Summer

OK, I know the "official" first day of Summer is June 21, the day of the Summer Solstice, but in Columbia SC the season of Summer starts before that. I think of Summer as June-July-August, but maybe that's just me.

I started working again today two weeks after my knee surgery. It felt good to be working again. I am out of shape just from the three week lay off. OK, in fairness to myself it was 95 degrees today. Seems like it was still very much Spring when I stopped working before the surgery.

It is very nice to walk around again without constant pain. Rummaging around in beds filled with vines and debris it is hard not to stumble here and there, and I did tweak the knee a bit, but not too badly.

I am so thankful for the friends who made it possible for me to have the surgery.

My nephew Sanders worked with me today, and will over the summer. He is a good worker. He had the privilege of digging out several stumps - just some good old fashioned hard work. I think he liked it.

Yesterday I sat outside with a wonderful 85 year old woman and talked about life and death and kids and gardens and marriage. I was able to enjoy eating a bunch of Loquat fruit while we talked - they were awesome!

She told me stories about the various trees and bushes and statues in her yard, where they came from, which she planted, and so forth. It was pretty obvious that going outside and sitting in that special place under her River Birch and Loquat trees caused some anxiety for her because of how overgrown everything has become. I am going to help her reclaim her beautiful garden from Wisteria and other assorted vines and trees so that that she can sit outside and feel peace and not anxiety. That is the best thing about what I'm doing now.

I didn't tell her much at all about my situation, but I guess she has been around the block over the course of her 85 years. After I walked her back into her house, and as I turned to go to my car, she said (something like), "There is someone out there who will love you...for who you are."

That kind of made me smile.