A New Hampshire Transplant Reflects on Spring in New England

Spring does not startle in New Hampshire the way it does in the Carolinas.

In March and April, my South Carolina home is set ablaze with the yellows of jasmine (and pine tree pollen) and the pinks and reds of dogwoods and azaleas across the landscape.

If you’re walking, the sweet aroma of honey suckle may cause you to stop in your tracks. If you step aside to sniff it up close, you’re likely to swoon. Spring in South Carolina is sensory overload—wisteria, dogwoods, magnolias, blackberries, cornflowers, sweet peas, irises, daisies and day lilies. Sunflowers! Morning Glory!

Glory!

You’d better not stand too long in any one place or the flowers in your garden may shoot up so suddenly they slap you for getting in their way. Sometimes we forget we reside in a tropical rain forest. There is nothing slow or subtle about Spring near my home.

The bluebirds, goldfinch, cardinals, woodpeckers, bumblebees, and butterflies put on a dazzling light show that makes Disney jealous.

New Hampshire’s Spring is slower to arrive. No surprise there. The colors are muted. The landscape stays brown and grey through the April mud season, then beige begins to appear, then a soft golden color. Persevere. Be patient. Spring does not hurry here. After the gold comes pale green which contrasts handsomely on the hillsides with the dark emerald of the evergreens.

Flowers appear, but they are tiny, blue, purple and pink treasures to be relished for their rarity. I don’t know their names yet. Gradually, the greens turn darker. Lawns appear where there was mud. I passed a bush two days ago burdened with heavy purple flowers. I stopped to smell it. Heavenly. I was told it was Lilac. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or smelled Lilac before.

The past two days outside the back window of the house where I’m living, I’ve seen tom turkeys and hens doing their courtship dance. I’ve watched a fox unsuccessfully chasing the turkeys. Any day now, I’m waiting for a fawn to step out of the woods to check out this new, lovely world.

Welcome to Spring, wherever you are.

Categories: South Carolina, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Ministerial Divide in New Hampshire… and in South Carolina… and Elsewhere…

Lots of things make me scratch my head.

My angst today has to do with two separate groups of pastors that exist in and around Hanover, New Hampshire.

One alliance consists of the old mainline churches: the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Congregationalists, the Roman Catholics, and the Cooperative Baptists. I was invited to participate with these ecumenical ministers in the Good Friday community service held at the Hanover Catholic church. They seem to focus on areas of agreement rather than discord.

The second configuration represents the self-described evangelical wing of Christianity. A nearby Charismatic church pays for this fellowship to meet once a month for lunch, which encourages participation. These churches sometimes wear their autonomy in their name, as in “Independent Bible Church.” Like the downtown folks, this is also a diverse gathering, and they also seem to respect one another.

It appears that I sorta fit sometimes in both groups. I’m not sure whether this is because…

  • I like Jesus, and can get along with most other people who like Jesus, or…
  • I am a wimp, which might also be known as a peacemaker, or…
  • My theology is inclusive, and forgiving, and attempts to major on grace, or…
  • Something else.

Aspects of both types of groups, I’ll admit, appeal to me and others irritate me. Example: When I retired, I wanted to worship outside my tradition, at least for a while. I have often visited with the Quakers (Society of Friends) when away from home, so I googled the Friends meeting house in Columbia. The banner across their website read: UNACCEPTABLE. Dang. I’d been fighting the problem of exclusion in the Southern Baptist world for a few decades. Now I turn to the liberal wing of Christianity and discover their first word is “unacceptable.” Double Dang. I don’t even remember the issue.

The Greek Orthodox officially think I’m not a Christian. Some Lutheran and Episcopal ministers judge me because of my accent or my “low-church” worship. So-called progressives, moderates, liturgical congregations, and liberals do not get a pass on being judgmental.

The evangelical, conservative, fundamentalist, Pentecostal wings of the church have their own demons. I want to think of myself as evangelical, if only that meant inviting people to warm up to Jesus. But nowadays, it means I’m required to be hostile to homosexuality, against women in leadership, and certain that everyone who doesn’t believe like me is going to hell. Depending on which brand of evangelical you encounter, you may also be required to adopt a Calvinist/Reformed theology or swear allegiance to the Republican Party. Some of the discussion at the luncheon with these pastors revolved around whether a church’s elders would let the pastor celebrate Easter during worship. Some people who had attended this group apparently quit participating when a woman pastor showed up one month.

There’s something wrong at the core of this divide.

One Lord. One Faith. One Baptism.

…that they may be one…

Categories: Faith/Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Thank You!

Recently, I sent out a public appeal for contributions to help Trinity Baptist Church of Hanover to move forward to their next chapter, including their next pastor. Many of you responded with a generous check. As I write this, we have collected at least $13,000 (out of $18,000) toward a new furnace to replace our 30-year-old “I think I can” heating system. Or, our sorta sometimes hit-and-miss heating system.

As I have tried to indicate in my various blogs and Facebook posts, this is a tiny congregation with a superior history as a mission point for Baptists in the Dartmouth College community. College kids simply can’t pay the freight for this ministry any more than teenagers in churches can pay the salary of their youth minister.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia provided a huge boost to this effort with a large gift from their “Trinity Fund,” established for just such circumstances as this. That contribution is in memory of Sam and Betty Penn and John and Julia Palmer, and in honor of David Mount, the last pastor of Trinity Baptist in Macon, Georgia. When Macon’s Trinity congregation sold its property, the proceeds were placed in a designated fund. The Trustees of the fund felt that Trinity Baptist Church of Hanover, New Hampshire, provided a proper memorial in keeping with the wishes of the congregation that donated the funds. Thank you to Frank Broome, Coordinator of CBF of Georgia, for his help in providing this gift.

It’s been fun for me to open the incoming envelopes and see the notes (and the checks) from friends of mine, old and new, and from friends of Trinity.

Trinity is in the interviewing process with individuals now, looking for next person called to serve as our pastor. My last Sunday here will be June 19. My term as an interim will be complete. Sally is flying up, and then we are driving home together. I’m not done here yet—another five weeks to go. My friends have encouraged me, by phone calls, emails, Facebook and blog comments. My support system is awesome. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Marion D. Aldridge

mariondaldridge@gmail.com

PS: This sounds a bit like a goodbye-to-New Hampshire blog, but it’s not. I’ve still got a way to go, but I wanted to report and to say Thanks to those of you who have made a donation to Trinity. For others who have had good intentions but haven’t yet sent a contribution, here is the address:

Trinity Baptist Church of Hanover

PO Box 5079

Hanover, NH 03755

 

 

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Fairy Tale Retold: the Blue Collar Kid and the Cantaloupe

Do you remember the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale about the Princess and the Pea? The bottom line was that the Princess was so sensitive that even though 20 mattresses were placed between her and the Pea, she still felt the discomfort caused by that tiny little Pea. That proved she was a real Princess, fit to marry the Prince.

After I had been married several years, I realized that I had married a Princess. My wife Sally and I would be in a room and she would complain of being cold when I felt comfortable. That made sense. Some people are cold-natured. They should keep a sweater handy. But, later, in another time and place, Sally would complain of being hot, and I still felt comfortable. You can’t be both cold-natured and hot-natured, can you? Eventually I remembered this story of the Princess and the Pea and concluded that this doctor’s daughter from Greenville, South Carolina, is ultra-sensitive. She is delicate! Nowadays, we might say she is “high maintenance.” She has very elevated expectations regarding her own personal comfort. She knows—even though 20 mattresses may separate her from that Proverbial Pea—that the Pea is there, and she feels it. And she lets me know she feels it! And she wants me to do something about that blasted Pea, no matter how many mattresses have to be removed and replaced.

So far, this sounds like a complaint about the Princess’ super-sensitivity, but it’s not. Here’s another Fairy Tale. This one is about the Blue Collar Kid and the Cantaloupe. This Fairy Tale is about me. Instead of being extra sensitive, I tend to be less sensitive, even insensate, numb, not sensitive at all, anesthetized, and utterly unaware of the cantaloupe beneath my own thin mattress.

Sally and I would come home from somewhere and she would ask, “Do you smell that?”

I would answer honestly, “No.” I sensed nothing.

Over time, too many of these “Do you smell that?” or “Did you hear that?” episodes occurred when something was actually overheating or burning in the oven or making a noise that needed our attention. It wasn’t just that I married a person whose perception was extra keen; it was also that she married someone whose senses were apparently exceedingly dull. As I have tried to analyze candidly what was going on, I have concluded that there were a couple reasons for my insensitivity, my lack of awareness.

  • In the instance of “Do you smell/hear/etc.?” at least one aspect of the situation was my not wanting there to be a difficulty! If there were a problem, the commode overflowing, an electrical short in the light fixture, a noise in the ceiling fan, the smell of dog urine, twenty mattresses that needed to be unpiled and restacked, I suspected I would be the one whose task it would be to ameliorate the crisis. I didn’t want there to be a problem so I didn’t want to see, hear, smell, taste, or feel one.
  • The more basic issue was that I had rarely ever listened, smelled, tasted, touched, saw, or felt with much consciousness or comprehension, and that insensitivity predated my relationship with Sally. Call it clueless. Call it naïve. Call it stupid. Call it immaturity. In the movie “Clueless,” the teenage protagonist was hilarious. A 50-year old naïf is sad and frustrating, not humorous.

Listening or paying attention was actually a third-tier challenge for me. Not listening went hand in hand with an addiction I have, the need to talk incessantly, the secondary difficulty. The prior issue to that, however, my primary demon, has to do with fear, the fear of not being liked. I have heard it called “Approval Addiction.”

Categories: addiction, Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Five Star Dining in South Carolina

Having the opportunity to spend two weeks in South Carolina in May, 2016, after wintering in New Hampshire, I decided to do some research about food in the Palmetto State.

My first night home, Sally fixed a huge meal of roast beef, rice and gravy, green beans and salad. That was a good start—a classic.

The culinary centerpieces of my sojourn to the South were two weddings at which I officiated. One was on the coast, or as we say in South Carolina, at the beach: the Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms. The setting was magnificent, the food was elegant, the wedding successful. The second wedding was also typically Southern—barbeque (mustard based, vinegar based, catsup based, and hot), cole slaw, rice and hash, served in a cabin beside a lake in the woods near where I grew up, the Horse Creek Valley. Sweet tea. Perfection.

But, three meals a day must be eaten, so I did what I could to enjoy the weekdays as well as the weekends.

Of course, Jenna and Lake came by the house for breakfast one morning before school. I fixed bacon and banana/blueberry waffles, a simple breakfast, but a favorite. Speaking of breakfast, at the Charleston/Isle of Palms wedding, son-in-law Tom fixed) blueberry muffins. Tom has not fed a teenage boy (his nephew Lake) blueberry muffins in a while so he had to prepare a second batch so the adults would have something to eat.

Ted and Marcia Godfrey took me out to eat at Cola’s one night, one of Columbia’s restaurants for fine dining. I had the crispy flounder (scored and flash fried) with apricot shallot sauce and jasmine rice. Nice. Very nice. Very very nice. This is a Charleston specialty but I’m glad it made its way to Columbia.

Speaking of seafood, tonight, Sunday, I’m making shrimp and salmon and grits for my family. Since shrimp and grits are not particularly common in New England, it seemed the right thing to do before heading back (Monday morning) to the frozen Northland.

The best part of many of my meals has been the location—our back porch. Whether I’m eating French toast for breakfast or a pimento cheese sandwich for lunch, it’s hard to improve on the ambiance. Birds at the bird feeder. Flowers of a dozen colors. Butterflies. The cat at my feet. Squirrels chasing each other. Tea with mint from our garden while I sit and read. The weather was straight out of Southern mythology: perfect, mild, pleasant.

Based on two weeks of research, I’d like to recommend the victuals of South Carolina to all my friends. Five stars.

Categories: Diet, Family, Holiday, Humor, South Carolina, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Missing Fuzzy

Seven years ago today, May 3, 2009, my best friend died. Fuzzy Thompson and I were roommates at Clemson. We were roommates after Clemson. After Sally and I were married, he ate more meals at our house than I can count. He was in our wedding. I spoke at his funeral.

Fuzzy spent Christmases with my family and went on vacation with us. We lived on the same side of town in Columbia, South Carolina, where his Orange Volkswagen Beetle with the “Fuzzy” license plate was ubiquitous. He threw at least three Big Parties annually—one during the Christmas season, one for the Super Bowl, and an end-of-school outdoor extravaganza known as the Porch Party. We had our last Porch Party after Fuzzy’s funeral. Actually, it was an important aspect of Fuzzy’s funeral.

I keep thinking I will write something longer, something funnier, something more substantial about Fuzzy sooner or later, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m not sure why.

I’ve missed him even in New Hampshire. Memories there, too. He and I took a trip to New England one year at the peak of the fall leaf season. Sally taught school and didn’t take time off for all the destinations I wanted to see. So Fuzzy and I traveled together. We ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the beauty of the colorful mountainsides, then we’d argue about directions—turn right or left?

Fuzzy would have enjoyed many of my New England experiences this winter—especially the fine dining. Of course, he would have complained endlessly about other things. That, too, was part of his charm.

We traveled lots of miles together, literally and figuratively. Fuzzy went with my family to England, Scotland, and Wales one summer. We stayed six weeks, driving from London to Yorkshire to the Isle of Mull in Scotland and back again. When I wasn’t getting on Fuzzy’s nerves, my daughters were. Once, we stopped at a small museum in Wales and Fuzzy didn’t come inside with us. When we got back to the car, we realized we had locked him in. Apparently you can do that in English vehicles.

Sally and I celebrated her 40th birthday in Paris. Fuzzy was, of course, with us.

Fuzzy spent Christmases at the Aldridge’s for over thirty years. As a bachelor, he felt the need to cut some of the apron strings from his mother in Manning, South Carolina, so he started coming to our home in Batesburg on Christmas Eve. He helped me assemble play kitchens and bicycles and a hundred other toys for Jenna and Julie.

Together, Fuzzy and I went to the Holy Land, to the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and a whole bundle of Clemson football games. We went to a John D. MacDonald/Travis McGee conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We chaperoned teenagers at a Young Life Camp in Colorado. Different events had different configurations. Ted Godfrey, Marty Kearse, Fuzzy and I shared season tickets to Clemson football games for over thirty years. The Wrights, the Shepherds, the Snellings, and other regulars tailgated with us in Tiger Town. Larry Abernathy, Fuzzy, and I took a baseball trip to the Northeast, seeing games in Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and Camden Yards.

Not enough experiences. Not enough memories. Fuzzy died too young—at age 60. I still miss him, even in New Hampshire.

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, Football, Holiday, South Carolina, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Comfort Zone

A little more than halfway through my New Hampshire adventure, and during a two-week visit home, now seems like a good time to reflect on what I’ve been doing for the past three and a half months.

Thanks to all who have been following and encouraging me in this venture, an undertaking unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Your comments on my blog and Facebook page have been a hoot. My life has not been in danger in the great frozen Northland. Some people actually live in New England and survive. However, Monday, April 25, when I flew home for two weddings and a two-week break was a study in contrasts. It was 27 degrees and snowing in Hanover, New Hampshire. It was a beautiful 63 degrees in Columbia, South Carolina. Color has not yet arrived in New Hampshire, but our South Carolina garden was an explosion of flamboyant fertility—greens, reds, yellows and purples. On the front porch was a Clemson flag which rounded out the color spectrum with a bright orange. I haven’t seen that in New Hampshire.

Trinity Baptist Church of Hanover called me to serve as an Interim Pastor and Baptist Campus Minister to Dartmouth after the retirement of Ken (Pastor) and Sandy (Campus Minister) Hale. Our goal is to have a new Pastor/Campus Minister in place when I leave in late June, after six months. We have made strides, receiving excellent resumes, and having a few fine interviews, in spite of being able to offer only a part-time salary of $25,000 per year.

The furnace at the church is on its last leg, and I’m trying to raise $18,000 to replace an over thirty-year old antique before I leave. Otherwise, the church facility is in good shape. If you want to participate in this fund-raising effort, send your check to

Trinity Baptist Church of Hanover

Box 5079

Hanover, New Hampshire 03755

 

Any help will be appreciated. And tax-deductible.

The church, being small (an average of ten people in worship every Sunday), has not required my full-time attention. As those who’ve read my Facebook and blog posts know, I’ve had fun.

  • I’ve been able to see my Boston-based daughter Julie and her husband Tom about ever other week. That has been a great gift for me.
  • I’ve taken two writing classes Dartmouth provides for senior adults in the area. As surprising as it may be, I qualify as old enough.
  • I’ve taken walks throughout Vermont and New Hampshire in some beautiful villages. My favorites are Walpole and Orford, NH, and Woodstock and Norwich, VT.
  • I drove up to Montreal, Canada, for two days and two nights, a lot of walking (ten miles each day) and some world-class meals. I might as well admit that I’ve eaten a lot of amazing food on this adventure (including local cheeses) and gained some weight.
  • My cousin Yvonne, who lives in Vermont, along with her husband Hal and daughter Stormie, picked me up and drove us to Portland, Maine, for a two-day and two-night mini-vacation there. I ate lobster.
  • Gerald and Kari Aldridge and Frank and Susan Broome came to visit on occasions when it was important to see familiar faces. Speaking of friends and family, I am grateful for the phone calls of folks who checked up on me. Sally and I talked almost every day.
  • I haven’t watched much TV, but I’ve read a lot. I’ve written less than I’ve read.
  • I’m enjoying preaching every Sunday and doing the tasks necessary to help this congregation move to its next chapter. That is why I went to New England. It has been fulfilling to watch the church transition after the Hale’s leadership there for 32 years.

After two weeks in my South Carolina comfort zone, which I’m loving (though it is also filled with doctor, dentist, and other appointments), I’ll head back to Trinity and New Hampshire for my final two months there.

In June, Sally will fly up to visit Julie and Tom in Boston, then come over and see where I’ve been living, preaching, walking, and eating. She will meet the good folks at Trinity. Then, we’ll drive back to South Carolina.

That’s the plan. Keep the church and me in your prayers. Thanks again for your interest. If you’ve read this through to this last paragraph, you are a friend indeed.

 

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Family, South Carolina, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Reading in New Hampshire

With cold weather and free time, I may have been reading even more than usual. Of course, I have recommendations.

Fiction I’ve enjoyed:

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, a World War II story about a blind girl as she experiences the war. Very fine New York Times bestseller and deserving winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, another World War II story, usually ranked in the top 100 novels of all time. I’d never read it. I try to catch up every year by reading some of the classics I’ve missed.

Three Spenser novels, all of which take place in the Boston area and all of which I’m re-reading for the second time. Since I’m visiting my daughter Julie and her husband Tom in the Boston area nearly every other week, more or less, it’s fun to read these for local color. Robert Parker does not write Great Literature but he is fun and easy to read. Spenser’s sidekick Hawk is one of the three best in all of literature, along with Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson and Travis McGee’s Meyer.

Non-Fiction I’ve enjoyed:

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, is the autobiography of a neurosurgeon who dies from cancer as he is writing his story. A Number 1 New York Times bestseller.

The Class of ’65, by Jim Aychmutey, is the story of a boy my age who grew up at Koinonia Farms in Americus, Georgia (where Habitat for Humanity was founded), in a radical, pacifist, integrated commune founded by Clarence Jordan. For anyone raised in the segregated schools of the Deep South, this is a fascinating and painful read. Stories of apologies that came to the author before his fiftieth class reunion are particularly poignant.

The Pine Barrens, by John McPhee. I’m taking a course on nature writing here at Dartmouth and have been introduced to the clear prose of McPhee. I’ve also read Encounters with the Archdruid by McPhee. I like his writing. I also enjoyed Henry Beston writing about Cape Cod in The Outermost House. I’m less impressed with E. O. Wilson, In Search of Nature.

Bill Bryson has written books I didn’t enjoy, but I liked most, including his latest, The Road to Little Dribbling, his latest walk across England, Scotland, and Wales, with amusing anecdotes of his travels.

Bob Gibson’s Pitch by Pitch gave me a baseball fix in the dead of a New Hampshire winter. This is his account of the first game of the 1968 World Series.

I was already reading The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh when I arrived in New Hampshire, but I finished it and I’m glad I did. It’s a religious classic that can help a Baptist from the South understand a faith system practiced by millions.

A Sense of Style by Steven Pinker was recommended as a good book about writing. It’s not as good as I thought it might be. It goes back on the shelf.

That’s some of what I’ve read. I’ve just purchased Kill ‘em and Leave ‘em, a biography of James Brown by James McBride. Since Brown and I grew up near each other, I’m anxious to read that. And I’ve purchased The Legends Club by John Feinstein, about the Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano world of college basketball in North Carolina. Looking forward to that.

And I’m always open to good suggestions.

Categories: Baseball, Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Humor, Race, South Carolina, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday at the Masters

Marooned in New Hampshire this spring, I’m watching the Masters by myself—on television.

The Augusta National, to those of us who grew up nearby, is a sacred place—not in the same way as Iona or Stonehenge maybe, but holy ground, in its own way. Time there with family and friends, enjoying one of the most beautiful pieces of real estate on God’s magnificent planet, prayers uttered, disappointments suffered, joy and celebration, maybe even a little communion.

In absentia this year, I’m fascinated by the story lines. A broadcaster’s job is to keep the viewer interested, as if we need their commentary to keep us glued to our television sets for this annual spring ritual. Here are a few narratives I’ve noticed:

  • An older golfer being honored
  • An amateur impressing us, a surprise contender
  • A dominant golfer making mincemeat of the course
  • The unique perspective of international players
  • A golfer with some aspect of his life claiming our sympathy, e.g., a wife with cancer
  • A golfer approaching some sort of record (back to back wins?)
  • Real competition on the golf course—Remember Arnie’s charges?

Stories we never know anything about are also part of the Masters every year.

  • A happy couple naming their baby after the winning golfer.
  • A player or a fan battling alcoholism.
  • The unexpected illness of a patron who hasn’t missed a tournament in forty years.
  • Two teenagers falling in love on the sixteenth green.
  • A wife finding out her husband went to the Masters with his girlfriend.
  • A patron suffering a heart attack on the golf course.
  • Someone in New Hampshire enjoying Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while he watches the match on TV. Cherry Garcia,

We all have stories. They’re not all on television.

Categories: Family, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Mud in New Hampshire? Mud in South Carolina? Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder…

Dirt, water, pebbles, rocks, and minute quantities of organic material, along with random muck.

In New Hampshire, during March and April, that grayish brownish wettish combination culminates in what is affectionately known as Mud season. The affection may be mixed with hostility depending on the exact composition of the miry bog as well as its relative location to your feet or your vehicle.

In South Carolina, we are proud of the pluff mud in our marshes, and we want to keep it there. A low country brewery produces a Pluff Mud Porter, but they market their beer based on lovely images of the Carolina coastal marsh, not because the beverage contains mud.

Scooped up in a clear glass container, mud is not pretty. It could have been named Yuk because the mixture of these common materials into a muddy consistency is a mess.

Winter snow is beautiful. Spring flowers are lovely.

Mud season is a different matter. Houses in New England are constructed with mudrooms to keep the grime out of the living areas of the house. Mud mats are required. Automobiles are made filthy by the accumulated grunge. Muck is the enemy. Pets that get caught in the quagmire are disgusting.

Mud, however, may be highly valued in health and beauty spas as a type of therapy for skin problems. Some mud formulas are used to soothe aches and pains deeper within the human body. Minerals in some soils, containing ash, for instance, are said to provide healing for various physical maladies. You can buy a Borghese Mud Mask “sourced from Tuscany’s volcanic hills.” You can purchase Dead Sea Facial Mud or Seaweed Mud. These products are not cheap. They are also not for the sane.

Mud can also be redeemed as a structural aid. Malleable when wet, mud, when dried, can seal cracks in the joints of construction projects, or make bricks for building huts.

Children spontaneously make art with mud. If the dirt contains kaolinite, it’s called clay. Potters use sophisticated formulas of mud and/or clay to produce magnificent pots, plates, chalices, and sculptures.

If the proportions of the primary ingredients within the recipe are altered, our experience can be transformed. Dirt, water, pebbles, rocks, minute quantities of organic material, along with random muck, may still surround me, but it doesn’t always result in unsightly mud. Instead, I can enjoy a flowing river and marvel at the deep gorges as I raft with my grandson on the whitewater of the Chattooga River. The same materials as mud, but comprised by different percentages of each ingredient, make for outdoor beauty that has little to do with ugly and unpleasant muck. Instead, the landscape bursts with color, a Garden of Eden.

As a hiker, my favorite destinations are waterfalls. Water is even in the name. A stream of mud and water flows over miles of rocks as it searches for lower ground and, ultimately, the sea. Lots of muck is stirred in the process, as creek banks cave in, but the water continues its meandering journey, pulled by gravity down, down, and farther down the riverbed. Photographers flock to these picturesque sites to capture images of beauty. International tourists travel to mammoth cascades listed among the natural wonders of the world—Angel Falls in Venezuela and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Yet what is a waterfall but dirt, water, pebbles, rocks, and minute quantities of organic material, along with random muck?

“God saw everything he had made and, behold, it was very good.”

Categories: Family, Humor, South Carolina, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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