Tag Archives: Alabama

I Love the Landscape Because It Is So Sincere. It Never Cheats Me.

“I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

from-townsend-to-cove-w

Taken between Townsend, TN and Cades Cove, TN

Most of you know me as the BamaSteelMagnolia. And, there is a reason for that. For most of my life I’ve lived in Sweet Home Alabama, a state I love from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

I’ve gone to school here, married one guy from here (big mistake, but not because he was from Alabama), birthed a child here, divorced here, remarried a Tall & Handsome southwestern cowboy here and battle twice non-smoking lung cancer here. I’ve lived more decades than I care to share here in this state I am passionate about.

In other words, I’ve done a lot of living, losing, loving and everything in between in this place I call home – Alabama.

What you may not know: on a cold January morning I was born to two young people in an East Tennessee hospital as the Great Smoky Mountains stood silently in the background, an ever present sentinel in my early life and childhood.

cominghome-day-1-7-1954

I’m the little head peaking out in the crook of Momma’s arm. My gorgeous parents.

So, what does that mean and why am I telling you this?

Well, it’s been a rough week for me and my family as we’ve watched the Smokies and Gatlinburg burn.

I don’t care how long you’ve been gone, it’s not easy to watch the places of your childhood and childhood memories, and the places of your ancestry go up in smoke. It’s a helpless feeling. And, if you still have family living in those parts, the helpless feeling is compounded. I can’t even begin to tell you what I feel to know these fires were started by arsonists.

I spent about the first 12 years of my life in or around East Tennessee with the exception of a year or so when I was two. My daddy worked in the engineering department of an aircraft company in the Dallas area at that time. But, you just don’t take a mountain boy out of the mountains and put him on the flat plains of Texas, and, so, back to Tennessee we went.

We eventually ended up in the central Alabama area and I think it stuck for a couple of reasons. Daddy worked for an engineering company started by brothers who were University of Tennessee grads (where Daddy started his college career), the terrain is similar to East Tennessee – we all ended up living on this little mountain top in Alabama because it reminded us of our roots – and the people here in Alabama are 24K gold.

But, oh, the childhood memories I have of those times and places in East Tennessee.

Walks with my Papaw as he pointed out the name of each tree. Watching him have his faithful hunting dog do all kinds of tricks for cornbread. MaMaw and Papaw letting us dig up peanuts or pick some cotton from the garden. This gal from the burbs thought she was a real farm hand then.

Weekend trips to the mountains taking in the fall colors, wading in the cold mountain streams, picnics with the grandparents, and my Aunt Ruthie’s house in Kinzel Springs. You had to walk over a swinging foot bridge to get to her house. It sat backed up against the mountain and even in the summer time, that house never seemed hot. As a matter of fact, back then, those mountains always seemed like the coolest place on earth to be.

It was just a “hop, skip and a jump” over twisting, hairpin two lane mountain roads to Cherokee, NC where we could see a Cherokee chief. My paternal grandmother was originally from Western North Carolina and it was said she was part Cherokee. She looked the part, but we’ve never confirmed the ancestry.

My PaPaw worked at the Little River Lumber Company back in the day. He was a clerk in the company store. My cousins tell me there’s a picture of him in the train museum in Townsend. He was also the fill-in mail carrier for Cades Cove and Daddy went on that route a time or two with PaPaw.

That’s my roots on the “quiet side of the Smokies”, my Daddy’s side. My little Momma is a different story.

Several years ago I started the journey into genealogy and it’s a journey I’ve loved and wished I had started sooner. Once I jokingly told Momma she was a half-breed. She was startled at first and then I laughed and explained.

Tennessee is divided into West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee. Any good Tennessean knows that. Mom’s ancestry is Middle Tennessee/East Tennessee (on her mother’s side). Half and half.

And, it is that East Tennessee ancestry on Momma’s side that carries me back to Gatlinburg.

You see William Ogle and Martha Jane Huskey Ogle are my 5th great-grandparents. Martha Jane Huskey Ogle’s cabin was the first house built in what is now known as Gatlinburg. William and Martha had 7 children and I descend through two of their sons, William “Black Bill” Ogle and Isaac “Shucky” Ogle.

A few years back I went to Edgefield, SC to get a copy of William Ogle, the father’s will. That type of documentation is like the holy grail for a genealogist. The Ogle family was living in Edgefield and William went to Tennessee to prepare for the family to move. He laid up provisions and he cut and notched timbers to build a log cabin for his family. He went back to Edgefield to get his family for the move back to Tennessee, but before they could leave South Carolina, William fell ill and died.

Martha Jane didn’t go to Tennessee at first, but she eventually did and family members helped raise the cabin using the timbers William had prepared.

It was the first house built in White Oak Flats, a place that would become known as Gatlinburg. Over time other families moved in. You saw the formations of clans with names that pop up in my family tree. If you throw a rock into a crowd of locals there’s a good chance I’m distantly related to them – including a famous country songbird who shares a common ancestor with me named Henry Bohannon, my 5th great grand-father.

My family was founding fathers of an area I watched decimated by a historical fire this past week. I never thought I would live to see anything like this. I hope I never have to see anything like this again and I pray for more rain to come their way.

I listened and watched as I saw names like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Chimney Tops, Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap, Wear’s Valley and others threatened and burned. And, each time my heart broke.

For me, it’s not only pride in the pioneer spirit of my ancestors, but it’s also love of the location and area. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. When I go into the mountains, my heart sings and my spirit is refreshed. I feel at home.

Just like the people, this area is resilient. They survived the Great Depression and floods after floods before TVA. It will come back and they will come back. There will be regrowth and rebirth. Mountain folk are good strong people, just like the land around them. They have learned from the land. They need our continued support and prayers.

Thoreau said it best, “I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests.”

My birthplace is sincerely hurting right now, but it will be a beautiful landscape once again – and the people will be there with it – rejoicing.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Birth, Cades Cove, Central Alabama, Daddy, East Tennessee, East Tennessee Fire, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg Fire, genealogy, Grief, Home, Memories, Momma, Mountains, Nature, Ogle, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day

Death is the Key Which Unlocks the Door to Our True Happiness, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Sunrise on Simmon's Mountain 03 11 09

I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.” ~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ~

When we look out our back door we hope to find tranquility, beauty, peace, refuge and a place of escape. Today’s picture is one my little Momma took back in 2009 from her backyard which makes up about 3 acres on a little mountain top in northeastern – central Alabama. Mom took this picture before macular degeneration really began dealing fits with her vision.

Nonetheless, this is her “back door” on one beautiful sunrise. I live “around the corner” from my parents and even though my view is different, I love my back door and front door views. They are a big part of why I moved here. I’ve made no secret this area reminds me of my ancestral home in east Tennessee at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

But, as we look beyond our back door, our view expands – our community and reasons for being where we are expand also. Think of it like the ripple effect in a pond.

My back door expands to my local community, then our county, nearest large city, then our state and then of course our Nation. Within those groups we have subgroups like our churches, work groups, school and so on.

I am a confessed “news hound”. I was this close to attending college out of state to major in journalism when I made the decision to marry my ex.

So, I have to admit there have been countless number of times I have sat in front of the TV horrified as I watched terrible almost epic tragedy unfold in fellow Americans backyards. We all know the names: Columbine, Pearl High School (MS) shooting, Sandy Hook, the Aurora CO theatre shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing and of course the 9/11 tragedy. While saying a pray for those in the embroiled in devastating tragedy, I would be untruthful if I didn’t admit I also said a word of thanks for the safety that had covered mine and my “back door”.

But, we live in desperate times and desperate times can bring tragedy, horror and unrelenting pain and grief to our own back door – our back yard when we least except.

September 23, 2014 was that day for my back door and it rippled through my community with pain that tore through the hearts of thousands of people. For on that day, a little after 9 AM a 45 year old man who was most certainly not in his right mind walked into a UPS distribution center and began shooting. When he was finished two men were dead and then he turned the gun on himself and ended his life.

Now, I am not here to debate his motives, what drove him to do what he did. There is plenty of information available concerning that. And, I will not debate second amendment rights. This is not what this is about.

This is about families – about a community – about pain and about how can we move forward.

Yesterday, I felt a tremendous burden for all involved. As the day unfolded and details revealed an anvil of pain fell on me for the shooter’s family – his wife and two young children. Law enforcement descended on the family’s home and began “digging” through the family home looking for a why. Local schools were locked down as a precautionary move – an admirable move to keep the kids in our community as safe as possible.

The more I thought of this family’s misfortune, I thought of the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania in 2006. That lead me to post the following on Facebook:

You know I’ve been thinking about the family of the UPS shooter. Imagine how turned up their world is today. There is a wife and children that started their day today – kids who went to school, and a wife who maybe went to work. She might have already had the worries of making ends meet at the loss of one income on her mind. Now, the horror of finding out her spouse and the father of her children killed 2 men and himself in front of the whole world and that world is now digging into their home and life. These are desperate times we live in. No matter what mainstream media tells you, the economy is not better. Millions of Americans have given up on finding a job because jobs are hard to come by. But, what about this family – this family that is in OUR back door? I’m reminded of the horrific Amish school shooting in PA several years ago. A man not in his right mind went into an Amish school and slaughtered several young Amish girls. How did the Amish community react to that man’s family? With an unbelievable outpouring of God’s love. They took food to the family and when there were no mourners at his funeral (he had turned his gun on himself like the gunman did this morning) this Amish community attended to support the widow and family. You can only do that kind of thing through the love of our Almighty God. I hope in the upcoming days the UPS shooter’s family sees the sustaining love of God from our community. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matt 5:7 NIV

The outpouring and response has been overwhelming. It has reminded me why I love this spot I have picked as my home. My sweet home, Alabama. There are good people here – people who realize that the tragedy of Sept. 23 ripples out and touches the families of the two men that were slain, but also the innocent wife and children of the shooter and for every ripple after that.

So this evening or in the morning, step out your back door or your front door breathe in your view – don’t be like Mozart and wait to let death be the key which unlocks the door to your true happiness.

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Filed under Alabama, Current events, News, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, UPS Alabama Shooting

The Blossoms of the Heart No Wind Can Touch

“Blossoms are scattered by the wind and the wind cares nothing, but the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch.” ~ Yoshida Kenko ~

Cherry Blossoms 2014 D

What do April 1st, a visit to my doctor, cherry blossoms and my Tall & Handsome have to do with one another? A day and week I won’t soon forget.

I was long overdue for a check up with my rheumatologist. I’d been scheduled to see him back in January, but I was actually too sick (imagine that!) to drive down to see him – the round trip is about a 75 to 83 mile trip depending on the route you take.

I had rescheduled but, that appointment just happened to coincide with one of the snow apocalypse that hit our area this winter. We had two, yes, count them, TWO here in the Deep South this winter. So, strike that appointment.

The next appointment was set up for April 1st. That’s when I should have said no way, uh huh, not in your lifetime sista. NOT ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY. But, fools tread where angel dare…

So, I went to said appointment. Going there I navigated one of the most treacherous and accident prone stretches of roadway in the great State of Alabama. That would be the boon daggle called US Hwy 280.

But, there was a pay-off going on April 1st. As I pulled around into the back parking lot of the doctor’s office, I noticed a glorious cherry tree in full bloom. A breath of fresh air – spring had sprung.

Could it get much better than that?

As I am prone to do at times, I’d tucked my camera into the Jeep when I left the house. I made a mental note to snap some shots of the cherry blossoms before I left.

When I finished taking those shots, I decided to take the “scenic route” home hoping for more photo ops – and that, my friends is where things went horribly wrong.

I was about three quarters of the way home and was once again in an area of traffic. Let’s call it rural/suburban traffic. Nothing like what I’d navigated  earlier in the day. I’d stopped and picked up something for dinner because it was getting late and was heading home.

I was approaching an intersection known as “The Crossroads” which has seen its fair share of accidents. On this day it was not destined for me to pass through that intersection unscathed.

I was cruising along well within the speed limit, not tail-gating the vehicle in front of me. I took a split second to glance to my side and when I looked forward again the vehicle in front had suddenly stopped.

Oh, snap!

I applied my brakes…and kept moving forward. I realized I wasn’t going to stop in one surreal moment.

And, I didn’t, until I rear-ended the vehicle in front of me.

I felt a teeth rattling jolt, mostly in my head, left shoulder and chest and heard a very unimpressive “thump”. I remember thinking, “That’s it? That’s what an accident sounds like?”

I was stunned and in shock – I’d had the breath knocked out of me. I began to take stock: air bag didn’t deploy, felt my head and didn’t feel any blood and the windshield wasn’t broken. Good.

But, oh, the pain…

I knew I needed to call 911. A bystander stopped and called. Next, I knew I would need a ride home. I’d seen smoke rising from the top of the hood and had a suspicion my Jeep wasn’t going anywhere but the back of a tow truck – and, I was right. I couldn’t reach Tall & Handsome at work, so I called the next best person every Southern gal would call – Daddy.

So, long story short, Daddy arrived on the scene to pick me up. On the way home my aching mind was racing. So many thoughts.

“We just paid that darn Jeep off in November.”

Thank God I didn’t receive a citation or ticket – that’s a good thing.”

“Thank God no one in the other vehicle was hurt.”

But, guilt flooded over me. I had reached this stage of my life, my age and had never been in an auto accident before. Well, there goes a pristine record. T & H and I have had enough to deal with – not with each other but, with the challenges life throws at us. I had just laid a big one on us.

I started thinking about the cherry blossoms I had taken pictures of just a couple of hours before. So beautiful and full of hope – much like life. I’d also noticed some individual petals had fluttered to the ground and were laying there fragile, bruised and unprotected – much like we feel we are sometimes with life’s challenges.

Cherry Blossoms 2014 F

But, when I got home, my Tall & Handsome was home and the first thing he did was to rush to my side, wrap his long, strong arms around me and comfort me – no incriminations, no chastising – just a safe harbor, because like those cherry blossoms the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch…

…He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28 NIV

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Auto Accident, Birmingham, Cherry Blossoms, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Spring, Tall & Handsome

Men Can No Longer Live as Strangers, by Beverly Hicks Burch

On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers.” ~ Adlai E. Stevens ~

Backyard view 1-28-2014

So, what does the “Great Snowing Dusting of 2014”, today’s quote of the day, the pictures of the day, my 81 year old Daddy and a love affair with my Sweet Home Alabama and my little local community have to do with each other?

Well, allow me to explain…

I’ve made no secret how much this East Tennessee born gal loves her Sweet Home Alabama and the spot where she lives in particular. In part, because the natural beauty reminds me of my ancestral roots. But, mostly you just can’t find better people anywhere – no, really.

For the past few days we had been warned of an impending winter storm headed our way. Yes, Virginia, not only does it get down right cold in the Deep South, but we do see single digit weather and even see the big “S” word. That unique white, frozen, multi-sided wonder called snow.

And, when we do, we are thrown into chaos. Not because we are bumpkin, Dilberts who think the sky is falling, but because it’s a fairly infrequent occurrence and therefore we’re not equipped to handled major events like our Northern cousins.

Now, the forecast was a strangely odd one. The most severe and heavy snow was going to be south of the Birmingham area to the coast – yes, the warm coast, the Gulf of Mexico where they were expecting two inches or more of snow. The Birmingham area was to expect a dusting of snow. Temps were going to be frigid everywhere – and this was our third or fourth blast of frigid, Arctic air.

Having been through this before, I had a sneaking suspicion the dusting could turn into something else if Mother Nature decided to turn just the slightest fickled – and she did.

Here’s what she graced us with at our house (that foggy look is actually snow still falling):

Front Porch C 1-28-2014

Front Steps 1-28-2014

Jeeps in the Back Driveway 1-28-2014

Sundeck 1-28-2014

Return of the Cold Schnauzer 1-28-2014

And, this was at the very beginning of the “Great Snow Dusting of 2014”. It “dusted snow” – heavily – from about 10:30 AM until 3:30 PM. Sooooo, it got pretty “dusty” around here – and icy. We were socked in with two Miniature Schnauzers, our electronics devices and no where to go. In other words, life was pretty good, until…

My little 80 year old Momma calls and after “momma” chit chat drops into the conversation my 81 year old Daddy went down the mountain at 10:30 yesterday morning to go to Walmart to pick up some groceries. This is a man with a pacemaker and meds he keeps on an Excel spreadsheet. (That’s the mechanical Project Manager in him.)

I wanted to say, “Oh, no, he didn’t.” But, as the first born daughter always trying to be the good daughter, I said, “He did WHAT?!”

She confirmed what I thought I heard, and then went back into to chit chat mode – while my brain starts doing wheelies – NO KIDDING.

Daddy was stranded at Walmart. He was planning on spending the night in his Durango and alternating time between there and inside Walmart. He was concerned the soda he had bought would freeze and explode in the back of his SUV so he was going to go out and warm it up periodically. Seriously, Daddy?! I’m sure there are endangered baby condors who aren’t worried about as much as Daddy was worrying about those groceries.

I am also the family tech support agent and certified techno geek. And, it just so happened a week or so ago I had joined a group on Facebook geared toward what’s happening in our community of Springville.

So, I hopped onto the Springville community page and before I knew it, a whole community was mobilizing to move my Daddy either home if possible or to a warming station. Mayor Isley and his wife, Lynda got involved and before I knew it Daddy was tucked warm and safe into the Methodist Church in Springville. He was provided with warm food and a cot and a hot breakfast this morning.

Like Adlai Stevens said – our globe has shrunken – even more so in this day of instant news, Skype, tablets, smartphones, texts, emails and social networking. We can let that consume our lives and let it isolate it from our families or, we can use it as a valuable tool and use it to do what Mr. Stevens said – to no longer live like strangers. I prefer to do the latter.

I also like the advice another Man gave us in the Good Book. He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Mark 12:31 NIV

Neighbors, here’s a really big thank you and a really big God Bless my neighbors.

Front Porch B snow 1-28-2014

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Daddy, Neighbors, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Snow in AL, Springville AL, The Great Snow Dusting of 2014

To a Cup O’ Kindness, My Friend, by Beverly Hicks Burch

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet…” ~ Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne ~

Horton Mill Bridge K2

Some years are just better than other years. I think we can all agree on that. Some years are a mixed bag, and then some years are what I call a mountain top year – those years where everything is golden.

The last few years Tall & Handsome and I have almost decided to call ourselves Mr. and Mrs. Job. As in the tornado has hit, the livestock are dead and we’re waiting on the boils and what’s next – literally.

You know you’re having plum years when your Miniature Schnauzer develops prostrate problems one Christmas and the next Christmas he develops life threatening bladder stones. In the interim you’ve rescued a female mini Schnauzer who turns out to be Rain Main in a dog suit.

And, that’s just the canine “issues”…

We won’t talk about health, jobs, crazy people, insurance, thieves, hardness in people, the economy…

 

The world at large lost some irreplaceable people. Many of us lost good people this year. People we loved very much, people who left gaping holes in our lives. I lost my aunt in June 2012 and I still haven’t recovered. If anything, this holiday season was worse than last year. She was that important to me.

Back in the spring Tall & Handsome and I drove up to Blount County, Alabama to visit the Horton Mill Covered Bridge. He’d not had the opportunity for a visit. It was a lovely spring day and I took advantage to grab some shots while there.

I was going through those photos and today’s photo of the day caught my attention.

A bridge. For those who have passed on from us to better things. To time we can’t get back – and may not want back.

A bridge. To better days. To the future. To the ones we love.

A bridge. To a cup o’ kindness, my friend…

Happy New Year and a golden 2014!

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Bank of America, Blount County Alabama, Covered Bridges, Holidays, Horton Mill Covered Bridge, New Year, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Robert Burns, Tall & Handsome

The Rest was Left Up to Nature, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“The best way to travel…is in a balloon. In a balloon, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop. The rest is left entirely up to nature.” ~ William Pene de Bois, The Twenty One Balloons ~

The Glow G

The Glow I

I love the month of October – for many reasons. The weather turns cooler, the leaves begin to take on their autumn color, you can stoke up the fireplace on a crisp evening and the food for fall and winter is just so hearty and comforting.

But, October also brings back a fond memory. Back several years ago when Tall & Handsome and I met, he was living in New Mexico and I was in Alabama. Yes, we met in an unconventional and nerdy way – playing an online game. So, that meant we “courted”  in an almost old fashion way – long distance. We actually didn’t meet face to face until after we had been courting for almost a year.

There is a definite advantage to getting to know someone in that manner. You really get to know them as a person, putting aside all that heady rush of close proximity and infatuation stage. Like strong drink, that rush can be intoxicating, and sometimes can blind you…almost like the proverbial “beer goggles”.

But, we took the time to get to know the person. We emailed, talked on the phone, instant messaged and soon T & H discovered we could talk to each other over the internet. All that was needed was an internet connection and a headset.

After we decided to meet, we determined he would visit Alabama first and meet my family. Some of the gals I worked with at the time were concerned I was allowing an axe murderer to visit me and take my head as a trophy. I tried to explain to them that if he was indeed an axe murderer, he was the most patient one in history because he waited almost a year to wreck mayhem.

Our next appointed meeting was a visit I paid him in New Mexico. He planned well and with the aim to knock my socks off.

One adventure was VIP passes to the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. It had been a bucket list item for me and doing it up on VIP passes, well, let’s just say he scored big points.

An event he made sure we attended was the Glow one evening. At this event the balloons are tethered and inflated. As you walk among these glowing, gentle giants, you would swear you were in an enchanted wonderland.

It was a memory of a lifetime for this Southern gal…

This past May we discovered Alabama had its own hot air balloon event. So, last Memorial Day weekend we headed up to Decatur, AL to attend the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic. While not as large as its counterpart in New Mexico, it was still a fun event and brought back lots of wonderful memories for us.

Today’s pictures of the day were taken in May at the Alabama event. Yes, this event has its own version of the Glow and we made certain we stayed and caught the event.

I look back over the course of my life and think about events that have changed my life. Some changes it took wild horses to drag me into – yes, it was like leading a horse to water, or more appropriately a stubborn old mule.

But, I have learned – there is a purpose for everything – whether we see it at the time or not.

Take hot air balloons…20 years ago, who would have thought hot air balloon would have been a beloved part of my heart and history?

So, two visits and one special balloon event and history was made, my life was changed…I guess you could say, it had been left up to nature…and Divine intervention…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic, Hot Air Balloons, Life, Love, Photography, Picture of the Day, Psalm 1:3, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

You Can Sit on a Mountain More Comfortably than on a Tack, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take.  You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack.” ~ Unknown ~

Horton Mill Bridge flower

There is an old adage about “thriving where you’re planted”. I think that pearl of wisdom is based on Psalm 1:3 that says: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (NKJV)

Last April Tall & Handsome and I took a drive up to Horton Mill Bridge near Oneonta, Alabama. It was a glorious spring day and there was new life sprouting every where.

Once there, I happened to sit on a stone wall that looked like it had been standing there for a while keeping watch over the old covered bridge.  As T & H wandered down the embankment and explored a little I had planted myself on the old stone wall.

By happenstance I looked down along the wall and I saw a remarkable thing – call it a weed, call it a wildflower, but whatever you call it, there was new life thriving where it had been planted – in the mortar and crevice between the stones of that old wall.

Not only was this green wonder surviving in the most unlikely of places, but it seemed to be thriving, blooming forth tiny delicate purple flowers.

That unlikely little plant gave me a lesson in life. So many times we are planted in places we dread and even hate. We beg and bargain to be moved from these areas we consider wastelands.

We may be surviving, but are we thriving? There is a big difference.

We can survive like this little plant, which granted may not have deep roots and a long life span, but we can also thrive, blooming if you will, even if it’s the tiniest, most delicate of blossom.

I promise, it is sure to touch someone…

I have been planted many places that weren’t exactly “prime real estate”. I was dropped into non-smoking lung cancer twice, autoimmune disorders, a stalker and the end of a long time marriage brought on when the ex decided he wanted to marry his co-worker girlfriend.

During many of those times, I didn’t even feel like my roots were as deep as the little life on the stone wall. Surely, they were too shallow and would not tether me to this earth. Forget about having roots planted like the mighty oak. Sometimes my roots felt like they were buried in quicksand and I was sinking fast.

But, one day I came to a decision. Wallowing in my misery was not thriving – it wasn’t even a life. I made the decision to move on and plant my roots where they could latch on to something worthwhile – starting with a decision to thrive as best I could and not just survive.

I decided it was definitely more comfortable to sit on the mountain than sit on a tack.

And, when  I did I began to blossom again, with things I had long put away out of “duty” or because I thought they didn’t really matter in the grander scheme of things. But, they did, my muse told me it mattered.

My mused, by the way is my Tall & Handsome…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

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Filed under Alabama, Life, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

That Curious Emotion called Homesickness, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“It is a curious emotion, this certain homesickness I have in mind. With Americans, it is a national trait, as native to us as the roller-coaster or the jukebox…” ~ Carson McCullers ~

There are certain times of the year I know Tall & Handsome develops a case of that curious emotion called homesickness. I know it is for the southwest and parts of New Mexico.

A particular time of the year he becomes homesick for Hatch green chilies – fresh chilies. I wrote about this in a food blog recently. I was surprised to discover one day our local Whole Foods was roasting Hatch green chilies New Mexico style in front of their store. I called T & H and he picked some up on the way home from work. Only he got the raw ones and roasted them himself. I guess he was homesick for that aroma only a roasting chili has.

Then, in October he comes down with a mild case of homesickness. Every year in October Albuquerque hosts an international hot air balloon fiesta. He was a yearly participant. One of the things he enjoyed was trading balloon pins with the crews of the attending balloons.

T & H’s pins fill the front of a denim vest. I can’t tell you how many hangers that vest has broken and wire hangers it’s bent. Yep, it’s that heavy. And, he has pins running over and in containers everywhere.

So, this past May when I mentioned the hot air balloon event here in Alabama I think he was finally psyched up to go. It also helped we had out of town company.

T & H made sure he wore his balloon vest – all 598 pounds of it…

I saw smiles on his face and looks of “knowing”. I could tell the outing was the cure for that curious emotion called homesickness…

2 balloon guy

The infamous balloon vest – all 598 pounds of it

dreaming of abque nm

Looking westward

for those that think young

A contemplative guy – Albuquerque on the mind

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic, Decatur AL, Homesickness, Hot Air Balloons, Photography, Picture of the Day, Tall & Handsome

Diamond Bridge for Sure, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Golden bridge, silver bridge or diamond bridge; it doesn’t matter! As long as the bridge takes you across to the other side, it is a good bridge.” ~ Mehmet Murat Ildan ~

Horton Mill Bridge E

I have a confession. I have a phobia about bridges. Ever since the Silver Bridge collapsed over the Ohio River between Ohio and West Virginia shortly before Christmas 1967, bridges have been objects of torment for me. I think the fact I never learned to swim may play a teeny, tiny factor in my phobia.

It’s very hard trying to go through life avoiding bridges. As a matter of fact it’s almost downright impossible. I am proud to say there have been times I have handled it remarkably well.

But, we cross so many bridges in our life without even thinking about it…there’s the bridge to nowhere, the bridge of no return, the bridge of friendship, we bridge the proverbial gap and I’m sure you could think of a zillion more clichés.

We cross circumstantial bridges daily in our life. We cross from crisis to calm, illness to health, confusion to clarity, turmoil to peace. And, the conduit that allows you safe passage from one side to the next is a God-send in more ways than one. That bridge is our passageway to the other, hopefully better side.

There are several covered bridges here in Alabama in a nearby county. I have wanted for sometime to take Tall & Handsome on a day trip to this particular bridge in today’s picture.

I have seen this bridge off and on since I was a child. It is Horton Mill Bridge in Blount County, Alabama. Built in the early 1900s, a few years ago some maniacal  clown used a wench or something and actually pulled part of the bridge apart. Just pulled timbers away from the old girl. She needed TLC at that point and was shut down for several year while repairs were done. This happened while we were living out of state and I just recently discovered the whole ugly story. The bridge had reopened in March 2013 and we just happened to take a trip up there in April. Lucky happenstance!

When I see a covered bridge I can’t help but think about T & H. You see, I was reading the book The Bridges of Madison County about the time I met him. It had been a difficult year. My ex had walked out months before, 9/11 happened and I had some health problems. I was wondering if I’d find the warmth of love again while I was reading this book about a guy with some silver in his hair and blue eyes.

And, then I meet T & H…or as he was known by his nickname, Silver Fox. Yep, silver hair and blue eyes.

Oh, my…

So, my T & H was my bridge to the warmth of love I speculated still existed.

And, if I had to eenie, meeney, miney, moe if he was a golden bridge, silver bridge or diamond bridge, I would have to say, diamond bridge for sure.

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Blount County Alabama, Bridges, Covered Bridges, Photography, Picture of the Day, Tall & Handsome

The Seeing Place, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place.” ~ Stella Adler ~

Stage at the Alabama 5-5-2013

If I was to ask you to think of Birmingham and Alabama what would be the first thoughts that crossed your mind?

Unfortunately, for many it would be of images that blazed across newscasts in colorless film almost half a century ago. Many of you sports fans will think of hounds tooth hats and Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and The Alabama Crimson Tide. (As we say here in `Bama, Roll, Tide, Roll!)

Well, my friends, sports aside, not only have times been a changin’, but Birmingham and Alabama are not wastelands void of art and culture.

Take today’s picture of the day…

Over the weekend my most talented, and adorable niece had a dance recital and it just so happened to be held at the renowned Alabama Theatre. I had been to the Alabama a few times. You can’t live in Birmingham and not step inside it’s grand interior at least once in your lifetime. It was Tall & Handsome’s first time, and now he’s one southwestern cowboy ready to go back and attend some of the events held at the Alabama. He said it reminded him of Saturday at the movies when he was a kid.

The Alabama was built in 1927 by Paramount Studios to be one of their flagship movie palaces in the southern district of the USA. Built in the days of silent film, a Crawford Special-Publix One Mighty Wurlitzer organ was installed to provide mood music for the old silent films. There were 25 built in the US at the time. The one at the Alabama in only one of three still at its original location. Originally a 20 pipe organ, 9 pipes were added later making it a 29 pipe organ. If you look at today’s picture, to the right and left of the stage are areas that look similar to balconies. They are actually organ screens.

Add to the whole experience the addition of the sidewalk full of “stars of Alabama” in front of the theatre and you soon feel like you stepped back in time. For just a brief moment you would not be shocked if you looked up and saw flappers walking down the sidewalk and Model – T autos in the street.

Theatres are like that…they are places of seeing whole different worlds…

louise fletcher star

kate jackson star

Truman Capote star

wayne rogers star

harper lee star

dean jones star

fannie flagg star

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Alabama Theatre, Birmingham, Birmingham AL, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Stars of Fame