“Werner thinks of his childhood, the skeins of coal dust suspended in the air on winter mornings…” from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
For some reason, this stirred a childhood memory of milk. For a very short time when we first moved to Jacksonville, FL, we had our milk delivered by the “milkman”. On our front porch sat a metal crate where we would leave our empty bottles and take delivery of fresh milk. I remember the tops were sealed with thick paper lids. This milk was probably from Skinner’s Dairy, a hometown company that later built numerous drive-thru milk stores across Jacksonville.
In north Florida it didn’t get cold very often, but there were some winter mornings when we were excited to be able to see our breath in the chilly air. There was one winter I’ll always remember as the temperature got down in the upper teens and our heat went out. Our dad was out of town at the time on one of his many business trips. We bundled up and played outside anyway. The very large ditch – like a creek – behind our house was frozen on the top. Our friend’s little dog, Ginger, skittered across easily. Our dog, Dixie, followed her and went right through to the icy water.
Other fall and winter days were filled with my brothers playing football in the front yard and a few evening fires in our fireplace. In high school it was a time to wear stylish sweaters to school, then go outside for PE in the short gym suits we had to wear. I remember being teased about the chill bumps on my legs – referred to as chicken skin.
After moving to Birmingham in 2014, I was so excited about our first fall and winter. Sweaters and boots and scarves were so much fun! But, then it seemed to last forever and I yearned for the warmth of spring.
This year, summer has far outlasted its welcome. Now I long once more for the cool air and some justification for a pumpkin spice latte. But, even more, I long for rain.
Back in April I wrote a poem a day for PAD, Writer’s Digest’s Poem A Day challenge. The prompt for day 23 was “footwear”. I instantly thought about the excitement of my first winter in Birmingham when I got to wear boots day after day. And then I thought of last August when I was hiking in Montana. After a hard trek to Iceberg Lake, I took off my hiking boots and plunged my feet into the water that was about 40 degrees. Needless to say, I barely lasted 15 seconds. Now, in this hot June, I could use that refreshing plunge once again!
I was so pleased to move
to a place
where I could buy boots
and actually wear them
That first boot winter
was so much fashion fun
Those boots gave me
warmth and style
Gray, brown, black –
I loved them all
But by month six
My Florida feet were
longing to be set free
I’m nearing the end of my second year of substitute teaching here in Alabama and I’ve come to look at it as more than just a job. When I was a full-time teacher, I had so much on my plate and so much on my mind that many days I was too exhausted to think much past the next set of papers I had to grade. Now I’m looking at things from a little different perspective.
Some days I just sit and don’t do much more than take roll and pass out an assignment. Other days might be jammed packed with instruction and discipline. The variety is usually enjoyable. I have learned to be an observer and I try to make connections with students when I can.
From time to time I’ll be sharing my thoughts, observances, and tidbits from the classroom.
“A circle was ugly without you.” -from Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
Being on the outside of a circle, looking in, is a lonely place to be. I’ve felt that way over the years, but fortunately not too often. It hurts, no matter how old you are. But, the middle school years are the hardest. If you aren’t in a circle, your outsideness really shows.
Today I saw a pretty young girl sitting all alone in a room full of kids who were talking to each other and laughing while they sat together. I didn’t know her or her story, but I wondered. Did she choose to sit alone? Did she just not have a friend in this particular class, but when the bell rang would she meet up with her BFF as she headed for her next class? I sure hoped so. That’s what I wished for. I wish everyone had a BFF waiting somewhere for them. A person who was interested, a person who cared. But, I know that isn’t always the case. So, all the more reason to be kind. And to remember how ugly that circle can be when you are on the outside.
A quarter of 2016 has already slipped by. The following is a recap of the last three months, just covering some of the highlights.
- I was the voice of @BeingBham on twitter for the last week of January
- Had the best pork chop ever at Gianmarcos in Homewood
- Got my name on the sign at Demetri’s!
- I met Matt Redmond, author of God of the Mundane
- I flew to Tampa for Juliette’s 3rd birthday and Princess Party
- Heard the Vulcan Eejits at the Hoover Library
- Spent quite a few days subbing at RMS and PHS
- Rediscovered some old photos
- Discovered Eudora Welty
With weather on everyone’s mind, I thought I’d share this from E.B. White, a man who truly had a way with words. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the author of the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web. When talking about the first flakes of snow falling, he said,
“At first it was an almost imperceptible spitting from the gray sky…”
I love the way he put it – such a perfect way to describe this scene. This is how I want to write.
I didn’t get any pictures yesterday, but here are some pictures from February, 2015, when we had that “…imperceptible spitting..”.
And, if you haven’t seen the Snow video, an Adele parody by Mary Morris from Tennessee, you’ve GOT to watch it!
Photography Challenge Week Two
This week’s challenge was to capture a landscape. My plan was a walk at Red Mountain with Loretta. Since she gets so excited on walks, I find it’s usually best to use my cell phone instead of my Canon Rebel.
Even in bleak January there is always a view to be found outdoors. I wish I could capture the fresh air and the energy that even a short hike gives me. Just use your imagination while you view a few landscape shots.
Red Mountain ~ January, 2016
When I got home I went out in my backyard with the Canon and took some suburbscapes as well. Here’s one-
I got an extra surprise shot as a plane came in for a landing at the nearby Bessemer Airport.
If you missed week one, you can see it HERE. And if you’d like to read my take on unexpected moments in photography and life, such as the plane flying by, you can read HERE.
November Train – B’ham
I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ’round the bend,
And I ain’t seen the sunshine,
Since, I don’t know when,
from Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
In early 2014, after we decided on a house and our offer was accepted, my husband looked on Google Maps and saw that the train runs very near our house. He was worried this was going to be a problem. But, I LOVE it! I don’t know what it is, but I enjoy hearing the whistle blow, which it does 4-5 times a day. I think if I could get through the brush and woods on the other side of our back fence I would be right at the tracks.
When I sit out on our back porch I can also hear the traffic. It’s not the horn-honking kind, just cars going up and down the road. I like that, too.
This post was inspired by Javacia Harris Bowser. You can read her post HERE. I decided to alphabetize my list – it’s the teacher in me. 🙂 Since she had a song in hers, I’m including one I love, too – Rainy Night in Georgia sung by Boz Scaggs.
- Back porch mornings
- BFF Cathy – we have known each other for over 40 years
- BOGO school supplies
- Bulletproof Coffee
- Discovering B’ham
- Freshly painted bathrooms
- Hiking at Red Mountain
- Husband of 36 years
- Loretta, my black lab
- Making my own schedule
- Microwaved pepperoni dipped in hummus (just ask me)
- Mom – my example and support
- My grandkids – I love both of them so much my heart aches
- My kids – four plus my DIL
- PackPoint app
- Pepper Place Market
- Prepping for Montana
- Rug from World Market
- Steak from the backyard grill
- The soft wind
- Toss pillows
- Writing letters
- Zumba videos
Grace’s Gap Overlook
Our first visit to Red Mountain this past Saturday was a success. By that I mean:
- We didn’t get lost
- We hiked 5 miles
- We met friendly volunteers coming and going
We liked it enough to be headed back today.
Besides being free to get in and having well-marked trails, Red Mountain also has some other plusses. There is a dog park which I hope to visit soon with Loretta. There are several activities (for a fee) for the more adventurous, such as The Zip Tour and the Adventure Tower, an 80-foot climbing tower for those with strong arm muscles. Discounts for the activities are available for groups.
On Saturday we went from the entrance to Grace’s Gap Overlook where you can get a view of Downtown B’ham. There is a picnic table there at the top, which will be good to know for next time. On our way back went out on the swinging bridge to the Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse.
Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse
- Bug spray is a good idea
- Bring water
- Bathrooms are porta-potties, so be warned
- Go early to beat the crowd on a Saturday
No, I’m not talking Dickens here. I’ve never been to London or France. But, I’m talking Jacksonville, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama. Two cities of the south , one dear to my heart and one growing on me.
Safe cracking in underground Jax
Before I left Jax, my BFF and I did as much exploring as we could. We’d both grown up there, but never knew there was a small underground tunnel downtown, originally built to transfer money between banks. And now I know B’ham has walkable/drivable tunnels with lights.
Both cities have grand old theaters. The Florida Theater, a lovely art deco masterpiece, was where I saw many a performance, from The Nutcracker on field trips with my students, to Leo Kottke with my daughter, to Boz Scaggs, The Temptations and The Four Tops, and Loretta Lynn with my BFF. I have yet to visit the Alabama, but it’s high on my list. The cool thing is they were both built in 1927.
St. Johns River Railroad Park
The music scene flourishes in both cities, as well as Minor League baseball. There are lovely old buildings and modern ones, including a Wells Fargo in both as you can see in my pictures above. What Jacksonville has that Birmingham doesn’t is the St. Johns River flowing in it’s midst. But, B’ham has numerous well kept parks and more restaurants that attract people. The downtown doesn’t shut down at 5pm, as I discovered on Thursday when I met my #capturetheham group at Urban Standard for a walk-about in the area. I look forward to more downtown exploring in the months ahead!