Archive for October, 2009

sometimes that is the way life is

October 25, 2009


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Originally uploaded by jayfherron

About the only thing the guy in this photo has going for him is his dog. Among us all-the dog is the only one not laughing in sarcasm as to how off track can you get?

Yes…this is a boat-known as an air boat. They are powerful what with the airplane engines that thrust them. The power is so strong you can ‘boat’ through the water or through the marshes and even on solid ground…but getting it to go through two trees is not in the book.

This fellow is lucky. Fortune has graced him with others…no one can create an embarrassing moment like this and not have spectators-so we all helped rock the boat free.

Why this man is lucky is because the spot we are standing in is miles from anywhere. The only transportation out of this spot is by boat or an eleven mile hike to highway 50 through muck and marsh and most likely thousands of mosquitoes.

It has to be a sinking feeling to have a 20k dollar boat like this wedged up as it is. On a bluff so remote and in a situation that AAA cannot resolve. I could see the look in the owners eyes of panic and despair.

It is always interesting when the crowd grows-the suggestions (many daft) begin…you know-the  “if it was me”  kind of tone.

I can relate to the muddled sounds he must be hearing. His body is present but his mind is stuck between those trees with his boat.

It’s kind of like one of those ruts in the road we seem to go through. The kind where the problem seems so deep there is no way to turn it around. Every thing was moving smoothly – every one was smiling and having a good time, life was good. Then came the part where the two trees got involved.

Maybe it’s because it is too much like the feelings of depression. You can be up on life’s high and then suddenly be slammed-right between two trees. That’s how it feels-and that there is no way out. Everyone is making suggestions….many daft! Those like “have a beer and cheer up” or “if it was me” or “it can’t be that bad”. None of them work because most of them are spoken by someone who has no idea what it feels like.

My feelings are of panic and despair-they usually grow stronger for me around this time of year. My dreams even become more intense. Yesterday my son and I went to Lowe’s. The moment we entered the store we were smacked in the face with crixmix decorations. I think it gets worse every time…seeing that stuff. It seems the duration of seeing the ‘seasons’ get longer every year.

It was 41 years ago this month that I first boarded the USS Vulcan. I can close my eyes and still see the morning I first saw her. It was still dark and the lights   seemed to be illuminating every inch of this giant vessel which I was soon to be a part of.

 A life I will never forget.

This past Friday in our local area there was a festival exclusive for veterans. I was at a meeting where the topic came up-several of the people in our meeting were being hosts at one of the booths. They talked of what the event was and how it was to support veterans. I heard the words about the homeless vet’s and felt the pangs of guilt that I had it so well and they do not. My guilt also includes not serving my country as many other had.

We passed by the parade of crixmix trees on display at the home improvement store-they were surrounded by other gee gaw that has connections to the crixmix story of fantasy and make believe…but serve as symbols of terror to me in the way that they remind me of the things that happened in the short time I ‘served’.

The people at the meeting who were hosting the booth at the veterans festival were inviting me to join in the festivities…they do not realize the grief it is to me to have to yet hide my military service,to keep inside the life I still continue to live…with shame,and the guilt knowing I really did not get to serve and I really am not a veteran.

Things are going great…then,all of a sudden….there’s two trees!

the road trip

October 13, 2009


farm-john campbell school,Brasstown NC

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

The travels have ended. My body is expressing its relief that we are home. I did a ‘straight through’ from Knoxville to home in Florida-something I was once able to do when I was a trucker…but,no longer.

When I planned this trip in February I had no idea the total meaning it would have. My initial intent was to have a retreat of sorts at the John C.Campbell Folk School. Earlier this year when the arrangements were made I had no idea what life was going to be like in months to come.

I always try to give things a Spiritual look see. My heart is always amazed at the details and depth things are taken to reveal some ultimate meaning.

I began realizing things were unique when my grandson Jared was born. His expected date was several weeks to go yet. His weight was so low and his medical problems mounted before he was a week old-by then he had undergone two surgeries. He was in the hospital nearly 45 days before he ever got to see what the sky looked like.

I sat with Jared from the first day I learned he was in one hospital-his mother in another. I couldn’t stand thinking of him being there alone. The sitting each day made me think of my father.

My father and I had never traveled far-or anywhere-alone. The time we did we went to the folk school.

I know this is twisted around and likely hard to follow.

The day Jared was released to go home from the hospital I took off on a houseboat trip down the St.Johns River. South of Sanford Florida the river becomes a wide waterway with many grass islands for as far as your eye can see. The combination of the colors of the green of the grasses and the blue of the sky and serenity of the water was all it took to erase the stress of the past weeks seeing Jared through.

The boat trip was 300 miles-at 6 MPH against the river and 8 MPH floating with it the serenity was perfect. Returning home I had less than a week to prepare for the folk school trip.

There is something about how the river transforms you. It was hard to relate to the real estate I passed going north through Georgia because the sensation the river imprinted was so fresh-going so slow I was able to enjoy the quiet of the grasses,and on the highway it was eyes forward and be careful of looking at anything.

I sat in my truck one night parked nearby the folk school. The cab of my truck is like a thinking booth to me. I looked out over the hills at the shape of the mountains against the sky. I looked at things I knew my father had looked at many times. My parents were life long fans of the folk school-I guess where they chose to get away from it all.

It is strange how we are reminded of our pasts. Along the river trip I couldn’t help to think of my grandmother-we called her Wickie. Her child life was surrounded by the Mississippi River and as a boy she had given me several books on river life and lore. There were always the four lithographs of the river scenes on her wall. I envisioned her sitting on one of the lawn chairs on the deck of the houseboat-like me I’m sure she would be thinking…this is the way I’d rather live.

It all collected in the cab of my truck parked up there at the folk school. I had been there 5 years ago alone with dad. The fourth day into the week we had to leave,my father had reached a point where his health turned.

The folk school is based on a teaching principle based on a Danish formula of one teaching a group of others how they build chairs in their region in exchange for the recipients of that lesson teach the others how they make brooms-for example.

My father frequented the school to enhance his wood carving skills-among other wood working styles. Our trip there 5 years ago found me in a class learning to carve wooden bowls. I liked it-and found it an art form I was interested in. But that ended with my dad being sick.

I had planned the trip to the folk school in memory of my dad. Like I said-I had no idea then what lessons would be involved surrounding the week at the school.

I sat there in my truck and wept. The entire collection caught up-the thoughts that passed while sitting with Jared and the thoughts that passed while passing the grass islands and the thoughts that passed during the few days I had had by this time at the folk school.

The instructor remembered my dad-he had the school boost me into his class when he saw my name on the register. I had been on a waiting list. He remarked how he felt that my reasons for coming again was for my dad and that is why he pushed to get me in the class. They limit the classes to 6 people.

Looking down into the valley at Brasstown it was like I was looking through some fantastic prism and that my eyes were seeing things my father had seen and in some strange way I was transformed back in time.

I told you this was twisted around.