Monday, June 18, 2012

Shelby Farms Excursion

Shelby Farms was and always will be a place of refuge for me. Thankfully, it is located on the same street as my humble and artistic abode with only a 25 minute drive separating us. I decided to visit Shelby Farms this past Sunday so as to also completely break in my new hiking shoes (which now feel so much better!). Once I reached the park and slowed my driving down to 20 MPH, I belatedly realized that the area had several spots for lovers of the art of fishing, such as myself. I grumbled good naturedly then drove on to locate the perfect parking spot. Five minutes later, I gave up on such an idea and just found one that was open. Once I got out of my car Malachai, my mood quickly changed as I found one of the bike trails and set off. Cool breezes helped with the walk while my head darted this way and that, trying to take it all in. Suddenly, I discovered a small pond filled with lily pads and small animals that kept jumping in and out of the water. I had to get photos. After leaving the lily pad pond, I found patches of elderberry blooms as well as what looked to be black and red raspberries growing on either side of the trail. My eye also caught several moths and butterflies as well as my fungus friends; the day, so far, had proven to be quite filled with all sorts of natural eye candy. After walking up and down several hills, I decided to change course and head towards my parked car that was next to one of the large lakes possibly filled with fish just waiting to be caught, stared at and thrown back into their watery home. Of course, since I did not have my fishing gear with me, I merely walked by the lake and later behind it as I discovered several hilly trails just waiting for my boots to tread upon. I had finally found my secluded trails, of which did not stay secluded for long; several children whose parents were on the banks of the lake were walking through the paths rather loudly. I turned around and went another route, one that had less traffic and more scenery. Finally, after happily getting lost twice, I discovered a bench with a view of the lake (see above photo) and I knew that this would be my spot of momentary rest as well as a place to scribble down some notes. In our day to day lives, we spend so much time getting from one spot to the next that we sometimes fail to take a breath, relax and have a good cup of tea while reading a book. We simply fail to just breathe. When I sat down on that bench and began writing in my journal, I was breathing and it felt good. Being outdoors is a wonderful way to reconnect with not only the outside world, but also within ourselves. Once I finished writing what I wanted to remember, I packed up and set off once more. As I walked along, I noticed that the roots of the trees surrounding me looked very bulbous and strange, like misshapen tentacles. I pulled out my camera and took photos of these roots because I knew that describing them to someone would not do them justice: After walking, taking photos, sweating and just smiling like a goof ball for two hours, I finally decided to make the trip back to my humble and artistic abode. I hopped in my car and drove off, enjoying the air conditioner and listening to music while my eyes continued to take in my surroundings. Next time, though, I WILL bring my fishing gear!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Travelogue - Shelby Forest

After very little self prodding, I decided to take a small day trip this morning to Meeman Shelby Forest State Park, located near Millington, Tennessee. It had been years since I was last in the area and today felt like a good day to go. 30 minutes of driving later, I found myself on a narrow road completely surrounded by tall, lush and green trees. Every so often I saw a car or truck yet they did not distract me from my search. A search for what, I was not sure of at the time yet now as I write this log, I realize that I was searching for a place of solitude. I quickly found my gateway to solitude as I turned on to a one way road that barely looked big enough for my Toyota. I drove up and down hills, around tight curves and under trees larger than life, until I located a small side area for me to stop and get out. When I did, I was in amazement; trees all around me and no sight nor sounds of the world beyond. I gazed up at the tips of the trees and the grey sky above and felt a mixture of excitement, nervousness and amazement. I wanted to yell and scream something but my mouth was frozen. All I could do was just stare and listen at what lay around me, hiding in waiting or out in plain sight that my city eyes could not detect. Suddenly feeling a bit nervous, I got back into my car and drove off, now completely under the spell of Meeman. After driving 20 mph for a couple of minutes, I slammed on the brakes as several lovely samples of mushrooms "waved" at me from the side of the road. I had to take photos of them, me being such the junior mycologist. After I had my fill of fungus photos, I drove onward to another miscalculated destination. Before long, I came to another clearing when, straight in front of me were at least five very large crows/ravens. I slowed down my car and hoped like heck that they would not fly away when they did just that with loud caws all around. I trailed behind them and parked the car in a small parking lot area. The murder of crows then flew off again yet one remained behind for a while in a tree as I scribbled down my notes thus far. The crows looked to be at least 2 feet in height and their feathers were blacker than night. I wanted to take their photos yet they would not let such a thing happen. They flew off again, cawing in the distance, as their sounds echoed all around me. I looked to the tree to see if the solitary crow was still there, yet alas, he too had flown off, leaving me sitting in my car looking like a scared rabbit. I got out of my car and took several more photos then stopped as not only did I hear my corvus corax brethren, but also a woodpecker pecking his head off against a tree. I got back in my car and drove off again, still unsure as to my next destination but hoping that it would provide the same kind of entertainment. The crows at Meeman reminded me of the ravens I saw at the Grand Canyon, yet those ravens were at least three feet tall and their caws were much deeper, as though they needed a cough drop. After some time had passed with me driving around, I found another spot to stop and take more photos. Although I saw a car and truck parked at that location, I saw no other human. The air smelled clean and earthy, like a good cup of green tea. The grey clouds let loose some sprinkles yet not enough to dampen my solitude while there. Meeman, for those of you who have never been there, has a stillness that is deafening. A snapped twig sounds like a police siren. A crow's caw sounds like an ambulance. I took many deep breaths as I took the photos, not caring if bugs were trying to fly in my ears, or that I kept hearing something or someone snapping twigs in the thick of trees and bushes in front of me. Finally, I returned to my car, turned on the air conditioner and headed for home and civilization. Thanks to my GPS (with British male voice named Simon), I returned to the highway with no problems. I turned off my A/C and let down my windows to feel the cool and green smelling breezes enter my car, as well as the delightfully fragrant scents of the flowering trees and shrubs lining the highway. I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I had to return very soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

THOUGHT - 5 June 2012

This June the 5th has finally given way to evening and all of my windows are open in my apartment to allow the breezes to come in and play with my things. Several minutes ago, I tried to read the book The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, only to stop due to my lack of interest. Normally, I love Russian novels, yet this one leaves me feeling quite out of place. A feeling that is quite hard to describe. I am craving a small bowl of strawberries, of which I do have in my refrigerator. I'm not sure what to read tonight and yet my eyes keep glancing at the only Faulkner book I own. Do I want to go down that road, I ask myself. The last time I tried to read Faulkner I could not even make it through the first ten pages. Perhaps I will read The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I had read Immortality a month or so ago and loved every moment of it. Or, if I really want a challenge, I should try to read The Kindly Ones. Remember hearing about that novel? It won high awards in France and yet people claimed it to be foul and hard to understand. I purchased it a while ago and have even tried to read it, yet I almost threw up while reading about some scene that I no longer remember. Oh well. I had checked out several books from the library regarding aesthetics: one, because I am working on a new manuscript that deals with such a topic and two, because I like reading about aesthetics. What makes art ART? What makes anything beautiful or ghastly? Why am I attracted to dark things, things that, once they reach the light of day, forever changes everything? Questions of mine that will never be answered. The night sky is a lovely shade of purple and deep blue, almost indigo. Indigo is my favourite colour, in part due to the novel named Indigo by Graham Joyce. Most of my life is book related. Perhaps that's why I was destined to become a writer. And I am. And I will be for a very long time. Memphis at Night is very different than Memphis at Day. I had always thought that Memphis at Night was the REAL Memphis, the one that history books spoke of. One of my favourite pastimes used to be driving around Memphis at night while listening to opera. I forget to do that now, thanks to my ever busy life that is filled with many good things. My apartment is still and that's a good thing; I love the calm feeling I get when I am sitting alone with a good book, or watching Spongebob Squarepants or some foreign movie that I rented through Netflix. After looking at my bookcases in my living room, I finally decide to read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Ah, Mr, Kundera, you shall have me tonight with cold strawberries and the sounds of Memphis traffic outside. This is my 5th of June.