I just got back from an attempted walk on the Roanoke River Greenway through Wasena and Smith Parks and down toward the sewage treatment plant. Most of that is underwater still and more rain is expected today and tomorrow.
My guess is that I’m going to have to find another place to walk over the next few days, a place going up mountains instead of down by the waterside. ‘Course, that has its own hazards, as I discovered a while ago trying to scale a steep hill that was wet. Hope the stains come out of my jeans.
Here is some of what the greenway looks like today.
I talked to my old friend Carl Waycaster for about 45 minutes on the phone yesterday and I will say without reservations that some friendships have their own momentum and never slow down.
I haven’t seen Carl since high school, about 55 years ago, but you’d have thought we had lunch last week judging from the conversation.
I met Carl, a dark, curly-haired, good-looking full Cherokee, during my senior year at Cranberry High School in far mountains of North Carolina. We began as football teammates and I was in awe of Carl, who to this day remains my favorite defensive football player, even though he weighed just 165 pounds and played in the middle of the line. He was tough, fast, smart, instinctive, and found his sport to be pure joy. He laughed and yelled and encouraged (teammates and opponents, whom he often picked up after leveling them) and so thoroughly enjoyed every minute he spent on the field that it had a great impact on us all.
Carl had and still has a deep speech defect that made him hard to understand until you’d been around him for a while and began to speak his language. It took me a while because he talks so fast, but I adjusted and found one of God’s best people behind that speech pattern. My mother adored Carl and they were so relaxed together that she was comfortable enough to make jokes about the way he talked. Carl loved it and those two were fast friends.
I had gone into my senior year at a new school, knowing almost nobody and raising suspicion among many of the country boys as an outsider from a “big city” (Asheville, which is hardly big, but compared to Cranberry–population 62 families–was a metropolis). One guy in particular, Jackie Buchanan, detested me from Day 1 and when he found out I had a bad knee, he took a couple of shots at it one day in practice.
I watched Carl pull Jackie over to the side and have a conversation with him during practice. Carl said yesterday, “I tole him, if he ever hit you like that again, I break his neck and he know I would.” Jackie never went after my knee again, though I didn’t know why at the time.
I discovered during our phone conversation that Carl had a crush on the same girl who attracted me, Joyce Watson, but she was taken by the self-same Jackie Buchanan and Carl and I kept our crushes to ourselves. Joyce told me a few years ago at a high school reunion that she felt the same way about me and I was floored. We would have been a great couple.
Carl had some tough teen years, working a 350-acre farm through long, sweaty days, but his step-father threw him out of the house when Carl was a junior and he had to live hand to mouth. He found a barn to live in and people who would occasionally put him up, but he made it through and still managed to be an All-Conference and All-Western North Carolina football player.
His life after high school sounds pretty ordinary, but ordinary is great when you face all the obstacles this good guy faced. Want a learning moment? Talk to Carl for a while and discover just how fortunate you are and just how important an indomitable attitude is.
Carl is a man whose life has revolved around the joy he found amid the difficulty. It was his choice and he made the right ones.
About a month or so ago, I ran across a little plastic yellow man with a smiley face sitting on a small bridge on the hiking trail at Tinker Mountain. My hiking buddy and I noted the little guy, took a couple of photos of us with him and left him where we found him.
A couple of weeks later, I ran into him again, this time in a tree stump at one of the 34 or so trails at Carvins Cove. I was by myself and thought, “Heck, I’ll take Mr. Smiley along for the ride.” And I did. I re-named him “Smileyboy” and he’s been my companion while hiking since.
This morning, I got a note from one of my old pals who reminded me that Smileyboy was a trail fixture and that I should not have appropriated him for my own entertainment. I thought, “Well, he’s right. Smileyboy belongs to us all.”
So I set about correcting the error and now his yellowness is back on the Carvins Cove trail, awaiting other hikers’ interest.
I ran into this little guy, whom I promptly named “Smileyboy,” several days ago while hiking at Carvins Cove. He was sitting on a bridge, greeting the public and I left him there, after picking him up and patting his head. I ran a photo of it on this blog.
Yesterday, while hiking Tinker Mountain, he showed up again, this time smiling up from me on a stump. I thought, “this is too much of a coincidence. Smileyboy wants to come along.” So I adjusted a strap on my water bottle container, slid him in, and now, he’s going to be a permanent fixture on my hikes. You’ll see photos of him in different places in the future and I’ll welcome the company.
It’s the middle of the work-week, so I didn’t expect a lot of activity along the Roanoke River today. Boy! Did I get a surprise. The river in Wasena Park was a beehive of swimmers, tubers, divers, fisherpeople (I apologize for that, but I don’t know what else to call them), hikers, bikers, basketball players … and on and on.
It was fun to watch and more fun to take part, especially when three young teen-aged boys decided they’d show off for my camera. Cool kids taking a cooler dip.
Last week, I reported that my pal Robert Stutes, a United Methodist minister in the Roanoke Valley, told me that his church had a pretty strict protocol on wearing masks during service. This is, obviously, a church that cares about its adherents and wants them to be healthy, as well as spiritual. Here is the precise wording:
“UMC protocol on re-opening buildings and face coverings: If the person does not have a face covering, they do not enter any service, indoor or outdoor. Have the greeter by the door lock the door if the person approaching the building refuses to wear a face covering. Monitor the service to ensure that everyone wears the face covering the entire time on church property and until they get back in their vehicle. If someone removes his/her face covering, they will be asked to put the face-covering back on. If the person refuses, the service will be stopped and everyone will leave. The person that violates the “mandatory face-covering rule” will not be allowed back on church property until he/she agrees to comply with all of the requirements, rules, protocols, and guidelines.
“If the person does not have a face covering, they do not enter any service, indoor or outdoor. Have the greeter by the door lock the door if the person approaching the building refuses to wear a face covering.
“Monitor the service to ensure that everyone wears the face covering the entire time on church property and until they get back in their vehicle.
“If someone removes his/her face covering, they will be asked to put the face-covering back on. If the person refuses, the service will be stopped and everyone will leave. The person that violates the ‘mandatory face-covering rule’ will not be allowed back on church property until he/she agrees to comply with all of the requirements, rules, protocols, and guidelines.”
Robert adds this caveat: “Big adjustment for us also will be requiring a signed health form from anyone who attends and requiring four days’ notice if you plan to attend! It will be interesting for these laidback Methodists. And there’s no singing and no coffee!”
I’m not sure if I should have been surprised at the crowd, but there it was in remote Botetourt County at 10 a.m. and I wasn’t in church. This was Roaring Run, a sweet hike in the middle of nowhere, and the parking lot was full and growing by the minute.
Of course, I had the only face mask in the crowd, but that wasn’t surprising. I think a lot of Americans believe the COVID19 pandemic is over and it’s back to normal. That, of course, is the attitude that will kill many more of us as we approach 2 million cases of what is right now an incurable virus. 110,000 of us have died, but yesterday there was not a single sign of concern.
Maybe they are right. But if they aren’t …
On the way home, I stopped at the newly-open Goodwill store in Daleville, just to scope it out, then Kroger to pick up some supplies. Few masks, even though Goodwill had a sign on the front door saying people not wearing a mask should not enter. I didn’t buy anything, but it looked like GWLtd had been crowded all day and its abundant stock was dwindling. Back to normal, I guess.
The hike itself was as it always is at Roaring Run: breathtaking and churchy. It is easy to feel spiritual in these surroundings and those of us who live here, I think, understand just how fortunate we are.
I shot this photo of a magnolia in full bloom yesterday near Roanoke Memorial Hospital. When I was a kid in South Carolina we had a huge magnolia outside my bedroom window.
Now, you know how hot South Carolina is in the summer. When the magnolia was in bloom, its aroma was so overwhelming that I had to close my bedroom window and I soon discovered that dying of the heat was preferable to dying of magnolia perfume.
I just visited Goodwill in Botetourt County a bit ago, since this is apparently the first day it has been opened in a couple of months and noticed what is becoming an increasing phenomenon: people totally ignoring signs that they are not welcome inside businesses without wearing masks. About half the patrons in GWLtd were wearing masks.
There is a simple cure for that, one that doesn’t involve violence. My pal Robert Stutes, a United Methodist Church minister in Roanoke, tells me this: “The new specs for re-opening Methodist churches require face coverings, and if someone refuses to put one on, and if that person refuses to leave, we are told to shut it down and send everyone home.”
Oh, would that ever result in some serious peer pressure?!?
This was written by a guy named Adam-Tony Castro and has been making the rounds of the internet. I thought I’d post it here in larger, clearer format so you can read it. There’s a lot to absorb here, but it needs to be said.
The original question, the one that inspired this missive, was, “Why do people think that Trump supporters are stupid?”
That when you heard him relating a story of an elderly guest of his country club, an 80-year old man, who fell off a stage and hit his head, to Trump replied: “‘Oh my God, that’s disgusting,’ and I turned away. I couldn’t—you know, he was right in front of me, and I turned away. I didn’t want to touch him. He was bleeding all over the place. And I felt terrible, because it was a beautiful white marble floor, and now it had changed color. Became very red.” You said, “That’s cool!” (https://www.gq.com/story/donald-trump-howard-stern-story)
That Trump separated children from their families and put them in cages, managed to lose track of 1500 kids, has opened a tent city incarceration camp in the desert in Texas – he explains that they’re just “animals” – and you say, “Well, OK then.” (https://www.nbcnews.com/…/more-5-400-children-split-border-…)
That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise. (https://www.americanprogress.org/…/confronting-cost-trumps…/)
What you don’t get, Trump supporters, is that our succumbing to frustration and shaking our heads, thinking of you as stupid, may very well be wrong and unhelpful, but it’s also…hear me…charitable. Because if you’re NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering.