Archive for April 2010

When I Was Young

April 28, 2010

When I was Young

Back when time wasn’t a worry, I had plenty ahead;

lovely songs to be sung, and great books to be read…

when I was young.

The years sped by, I took them in stride;

the count didn’t matter, I simply basked in the ride…

when I was young.

Life rushed on, my days filled with commonplace hours;

nights brought new adventures and thrilling powers…

when I was young.

The years piled up, but always in denial, I blithely waved them away;

though lurking in the shadows, quietly awaiting, stood my fateful day…

even then, I thought I was still young.

The shattering doom came on a rush with the wind;

its breath of havoc gathered in a spin.

Who could that person staring back at me be?

The Me I had known I now couldn’t see.

To my fearful dread, the mirror delivered a woeful truth:

time had boldly walked away with my youth.

One might presume I’ve been caught in life’s inevitable snare,

pinioned by bands of formidable steel.

Yet, I have an ace in the hole—a mind if you will;

active and questing, impervious to intrusion;

tethered to its grand illusion, chanting aloud,

lost in song, here’s cheers for attitude…I am still young.

Copyright   by Elizabeth Towles

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A Silence So Complete..Until….

April 17, 2010

A Silence So Complete—until….

A silence so complete…until a nearby hooting burst forth, startling the air with sound; the noise so loud it defied location. The hooting came again. John, my husband, and I, looked up, our eyes scanning the top branches of trees, and straining to get a glimpse of the wondrous creature making such an exceptional sound. We never found the owner, but the call came again and again—then stopped. We were at Beidler Forest and Audubon Center in Harleyville, South Carolina, and listening to the call from a barred owl, who hoots throughout the day. Cypress trees grow in abundance here, many very ancient, some of which are 1000 years old. Dotting the forest floor, Cypress knees (stumps) rise up out of the murky, dark swamp bed, looking like small grey gnomes; giving anchor to the tall trees, and offering a rest stop for birds.

Mid-way the trail, an observation sight overlooked slow-moving water where turtles, with shells the width of two hands, lolled on floating wood debris; and birds, hidden in trees with thick foliage on the water banks, trilled their presence with authoritative confidence.

Another blatant noise came, a pecking rat-a-tat-tat that had us turning our heads again, trying to center the sound. The pecking came several times before it, too, stopped—the forest then slipping back into a profound silence.

As we walked, only patches of sun broke through the outreaching tree limbs, keeping the air cool and the landscape in the state of a dim day.

Squirrels scampered everywhere, sometimes landing on the railing of the boardwalk near us, as though keeping a close watch over their domain.

On the drive out of the Audubon Center, the heat returned—as well as the normal noise of an everyday’s routine.

It was in a tower high above the trees, in Okefenokee Swamp when a silence so complete fell around us again. We were looking out over a vast silent void, above the wind in the trees, and way above the call of cranes high-stepping across the tall damp marsh grasses below. When back in the boat, we skimmed across the water, sometimes over a thick display of lily pads on one side, and a show of trumpet flowers on the other side. At one turn, a sign placed upside down read Mirror Lake on the surface of the water.

Along the banks, now and then, alligators lay spread out as if sleeping, but when the boat neared the resting sight, a head raised or a tail flicked in warning. On one occasion, a lone alligator slid noiselessly into the water and, for a moment or two, glided by the side of the boat. Oops! Although, the female alligator is a fiercely protective mother of her babies, if they are not out of her space by the age of two, she will eat them! Snakes are prevalent and when any work has to be done in the water, thigh high waders are worn by a worker, and a spotter is needed to watch for approaching alligators.

In the middle of this swamp, a serene lake suddenly opened up, as if the trail before was a movie set, and this is the real destination. The water glistened like wet glass, even the wind fell silent, and the border around this area was inviting instead of threatening. Our boat made ripples as we glided through this pleasant oasis—and back into the thick brushes and murky waters that shouted…Swamp.

A train ride was next, leading into a different part of the wildlife refuge. Signs posted read: St. John’s Wort, Saw Palmetto, and then the Slash pine trees that give off a fluid that in processing becomes turpentine. Wax Myrtle trees are plentiful, and when a handful of leaves are crushed together, this residue can be rubbed on skin as an insect repellent.

During the final segment, a talk was given on wildlife, mostly alligators and snakes. I touched a snake for the first time—ever; it was cold to the touch, but smooth feeling, like a polished marble. It was a King snake, non-poisonous to humans, but feeds on other snakes, even the poisonous ones; its skin is immune to venomous bites—thereby getting the name, King snake.

Two alligators were shown, a very young one, and a bigger one. I touched the back of the small one, its back felt rough, and also cold like the snake. The handler touched the tip of the nose, and the mouth opened, showing a flap at the back of the throat; the alligator controls this at will and when in water, it is this flap that keeps the alligator from drowning when he is treading deep water with his mouth open.

On the way out of the Center, there is a skeletal display of a monstrous alligator named Oscar. The plaque reads that his genes are in most of the alligators in and around Okefenokee Swamp. The display is encased in glass with a sign that reads: please do not touch. I could almost feel his empty eye sockets suddenly alive with interest as he sits guarding this realm of damp, shadowy, swampland that he ruled for so long. He is still in control!

Elizabeth Towles/ April 17, 2010

A Moving On

April 6, 2010

This is a moving-on week, a time to give my mind new directions, and to let thoughts that stall me go back to their slumber lair. I am into going out on the sundeck and get on with my current writing. I find instant inspiration with the outdoors in my line of vision, and as I write, I hear the birds chirping to each other, saying that the world may be in turmoil elsewhere, but, for now, for here, the sun is shining, and the day appears young and innocent. I step back into my ancestry knowledge and nod to all the forces, the North, the South, the East, the West for their different set of gifts, and to the ONE who allows my mind the gift of this humbling insight! Elizabeth

Mind Ramblings

April 3, 2010

All day my mind has been at cross roads: on one hand, the significance of the Holy Days sent me to my knees, to ask for help in keeping me firmly on the right path, and on the other hand, I argue why things aren’t the way I THINK they should be according to my life’s map guide. This holiday will be shared with my husband: we’ll go to church, we’ll pray, we’ll smile to others around us, we’ll come home to have a little lunch…but the chairs around our table will be empty, as they are on Christmas Day, on Mother’s Day, on Father’s Day…. You might wonder here if we have children, and the answer is…Yes. Of course, at times, I’m prone to wonder if all those years were imagined in my head, all those years of working to provide a home, food for the table, funds for getting them (yes, a girl, and a boy) prepared for getting on with their lives. Well…it seems to have worked…they are out there, getting on with their lives; and I’m here wondering what, or where I dropped the ball. I had imagined when the children became adults, we would have the life of sharing visits, sharing the births of grandchildren, sharing the ups and downs of extended families…. What we are sharing is a silence that seems as big as the world…and I have no clue as to how it can be fixed! Tomorrow, I will pray on this as I’ve done so many times before…and wait then for my own small miracle. Elizabeth