Hanging Rock State Park, Tuesday, 30 September 2014

It is now 1907 hours, per the Chromebook. We are now settling into the tent for the first of our three nights here, at campsite 14, in Hanging Rock State Park, North Carolina. This is our second visit to Hanging Rock. We visited last October, for 3 nights. As a result, I’m less stressed being here this year than I was last year.

It’s an autistic thing. No. Really. It is. As much as I like to explore new places, the act of exploring them places me under a ton of stress. Because I’m in an unfamiliar environment, which means I don’t know what can happen, how to respond to whatever does happen, how to behave in a social situation in the new environment.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Everybody knows how to behave in any given setting, and can figure it out by observing body language, tone of voice, eye signals, and all the other forms of unspoken communication people have, and use.

Autistic. Remember? That means I don’t pick up on those very things. Yep. Look at me like I’m out of my mind, and I very likely won’t notice.

So, being here a second time means I am less stressed this trip. Because I have some experience in this environment, and some frame of reference to draw from. And that’s a good thing. It means I’ll have more fun, and take more pictures, and experiment more with my camera this trip.

Now…. Now, I want to change the rules, and do something I know how to do. Capture a dream, a feeling, a moment, and put it on paper.

This afternoon, after we set up the tent, we hopped in the xB, and drove to the Lower Cascades Water Fall of the park. The fall is beautiful. What waterfall isn’t? The top is next to a rock face nearly as tall as the fall. At the base of that rock face where the water pulls away, heading toward the cascade, lies a moss and fern garden that could only grow in such a place, partly shielded from the sun, and receiving all the water it needs from the fall. The water plummets down the fall, into a cove. The water of the cove is calm, almost still. You can watch the ripples of leaves as they fall from the trees, trace the paths of the water bugs, as they flit about on its surface. Beside the waterfall, and the cove is an ancient rock face, laced with cracks, nooks, crannies, and holes. Trees, flowers, weeds, grasses, mosses, and lichen grow from the cracks, bringing splashes of green to the somber gray of the rock.

You would love to see it. No picture can ever do it justice.

We took pictures, of course. Lots of pictures. I experimented with camera settings, trying to shorten the exposure time so I could take a picture without the blur of moving the camera. After I finished playing with my camera, I decided to try something different. I turned off my camera, and took the time to experience the place.

The colors, so many shades of green in the trees, grasses, mosses, leaves. splashes of white flowers accenting the scene here and there. The glistening wet rock of the fall. The clarity of the water. The roots of trees, spread on the ground, looking for ways into and through the rock.

The sounds of the fall, of its echo of the rock face in the cove, of the cascades to the far side of the cove. How they washed away the sounds of city life. No cars, no horns, no machines, no phones. Just the sounds of water flowing over rocks.

Then, the rock itself. I closed my eyes, and felt it. Not cold, and unfeeling. Old. Ancient. It was there before humans existed. It will be there after we’re all gone. It has seen so much. It has been there so long.

As I have been known to say, every once in a while. Close your eyes and dream.

Close your eyes and dream.

Advertisements

#ThursThreads Week 97: A Clip From My NaNoWriMo Work In Progress

Roses were such beautiful flowers. The way their petals spiraled around their cores. They way they started as buds, and unravelled, from the outside to the inside. The way the morning dew dressed up their blooms.

Jessica always marveled at how beautiful the roses were. But she knew, like all flowers, the blooms wouldn’t last. They’d be buds. Then full blooms. Then they’d turn brown, their petals falling away. Leaving just the sepal, and the ovary.

But while they bloomed, they were beautiful. She loved how they bloomed twice a year. Once in the spring, around April May and June. Then again in the fall, in September and October. Sometimes, even into November.

“Mommy? Why do the rose flowers always die so quickly?”

Sharon smiled, “Because they’ve completed their purpose. They bloom so the roses can reproduce. The blooms attract insects, like bees, and butterflies. The insects spread the pollen from the flowers to other roses. And the roses reproduce, making more roses.”

“But, Mommy, there are no insects. No bees. No butterflies. Shouldn’t the flowers stay alive until they get pon-i-la-ted?” Sharon saw the questioning look in her daughters eyes.

“Pollinated, dear. And no, they don’t. They live a few days. A few weeks at most. And then they die. Pollinated or not.”

Jessica ran her fingertips over the petals of a rose bloom. “They die too soon, don’t they, Mommy.”

Sharon nodded, “Yes, dear. Sometimes, they die too soon.”

241 Words @LurchMunster


I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 97. It’s a little clip from the NaNoWriMo story I am working on. Hope you like it. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#FSF : Flowers

Image @ Shepley Imaging (http://shepleyimaging.com). I hope they don’t mind my borrowing it.

You can find the girls people think are beautiful by watching them. It works just like figuring out which flowers they think are beautiful. It’s the ones they keep looking at. Doesn’t matter if they say things like, “That’s disgusting,” or “She’s a tramp,” or even “She makes me sick.” If their eyes keep looking at her, watching her, she’s beautiful.


Couldn’t resist this one. It’s for Lillie McFerrin‘s flash fiction challenge, Five Sentence Fiction. This week, the prompt is Flowers.

Please, go read all the other entries to this week’s Five Sentence Fiction. It’s amazing what creative people can do with just five sentences.

Remember The Magic

I wrote these words last night, after I got home. I wrote them for a friend. The math told me I needed to share these words with her. And being who I am, I did. She wrote back, a brief little note, and said I should share these words with everyone.

Well, this afternoon, I just got home. And the math told me second friend could use a note from me. So, I’m sharing what I wrote last night. I’ve modified it as little as possible to keep names out of it. Otherwise, this is what I shared with a wounded friend last night.

Just because that’s what’s friends do in the world that ought to be.

Mark.


IMG_2796Oh, dear.

My friend. You make me wish I could give you a big hug, and take you on a long outing at the Botanical Garden. I’d do it. In a heartbeat.

I am not “physically” disabled. I have a 100% functional body. I can walk most people into the ground. Even at my age. I can hold a camera still long enough to take pictures at 35X optical zoom without a tripod. I can mow my own lawn. I can stand on my feet all day at Geek Squad.

I am, however, “disabled.” There are parts of life I simply don’t understand. I’ve told my doc, it’s like I’m deaf. It’s like I can’t hear that part of life that is “social”. I’ve explained to people, “It’s not that I do anything special. It’s not that I’m caring. Or tender. Or any of that stuff. It’s that I don’t have the social constraints most people have. So, for me, it’s all “math”. It’s all observation, and appropriate response. If I’m hurting, don’t I want attention, and help? Or at least someone to say, “I know.” So if someone I see is hurting, what’s the appropriate thing for me to do?”

And somehow, this gets people to call me, “caring, kind, and tender-hearted.”

I’ve told my Doc, “Isn’t this how things are supposed to be?”

So, when I see you write about how you are still getting used to your disabilities, and the reality that you can’t do certain things, my heart tells me I should take time, and say, “Hi!” and make sure you’re OK.

I have never, in this life, been understood. I’m married to a wonderful lady. I’ll never change that. I love her too much. But there are many “features” of me she does not understand. In her words, “I’ve grown used to them.”

One thing I’ve learned in the past 3 years. One truth that’s been hammered into me over, and over, and over.

People are blind to life. They are. Every morning, driving to work, they don’t see the flowers growing by the side of the road. They don’t see the clouds in the sky, or the way the sun reflects off of them. They don’t see the rays of sunlight shining through the clouds. They don’t see the birds flying just above the trees. They don’t see that occasional deer in the field.

They are blind. They don’t see the gifts we are all given, every day. Every day.

They never stop, walking across the parking lot at work, to feel the breeze flowing through their fingers. To feel the sun on their faces. To hear the birds singing, or the leaves of the trees rustling as the breeze passes through them.

They are blind.

They never walk through the flowers of the Botanical Garden. Without time constraints. Taking however long it takes. They don’t stop, and watch the butterflies. They never watch the bees moving from one flower to the next, pollinating the trees. They never watch the ducks, or geese, as they lazily swim around on the lakes.

They are blind.

Did you know, if you really try, if you sit quietly, close your eyes, and just listen, and you keep listening long enough, you can hear yourself breathe. I do that all the time. Did you know, if you practice, and you learn to listen to the things your body tells you, you can feel your own pulse. Your own heartbeat.

I know these things. I see them every day. I know the magic that is life. The magic of watching a 5-year-old cat sleep on your lap. Of watching the clouds as they slowly move, and change, in the sky. Of watching the neighbors dog chase a butterfly, not wanting to catch it, or kill it. Just wanting to chase it, and play with it. Of watching a wild rabbit carefully pick the best weeds growing in the yard, and eat them. Of watching a baby bunny grow through summer, becoming a rabbit able to survive on its own. Of watching a momma duck lead her tiny little ducklings to a lake.

I know the magic of seeing Camellia trees in full bloom in January, in the snow. When people tell me, “It’s cold. And there’s nothing out there to see.”

I know the magic of stretching out on my sofa, with the window curtains pulled aside, and the sun shining through them, on to me. Of taking a nap in that sunshine.

The magic is there. Every day. All I have to do is stop. And look. I don’t have to look for it. All I have to do is look around. It’s there. Everywhere.

People are blind. They can’t see that. They don’t know the magic’s there. They think I’m crazy. Or strange. Or broken in some way.

I’m not.

If I were there, I’d give you a great big hug. Then, even if I had to sit you in a wheelchair, and carry a 2 liter bottle of water with me, I’d take you on a long walk through the roses, the butterflies, and the flower gardens at the botanical garden. I’d stop any time you wanted. I’d let you look all you wanted. I’d let you feel the sun. The breeze.

I’d just appreciate the gift you are, my friend.

We are all different. We are all unique.

Smile, you. That’s the greatest gift of all. The gift of a smile.

Sometimes

I went to the gardens
That I know so very well.
That I love so very much.
The gardens that help me
Heal my heart and soul.

And there,
I walked.
Alone.

Just me.
And my music
Playing in my ears.

I took my time.
Stopped and looked
Any time I wanted.

Took the time
To feel the breeze.
To feel the sun
Shining down on me.

To listen to the leaves
On the trees.
The birds singing songs
Of so many kinds.

I watched the bees
Buzzing through the wildflowers.
Pollen packed upon their legs.
As they moved from one bloom
To another.

I watched squirrels
Climbing in the trees,
Running along the ground
As they searched
For the perfect feast.

There was a group
Of tiny birds.
They looked like finches
To me.

My hands
Would have dwarfed
Any one of them.

They ate petals
Off yellow flowers.
And watched me
Watching them.

I watched grasshoppers
Playing games.
Chasing each other
Through the bushes,
Grass and mulch.

I took the time to stare
At a black dragon-fly
With the golden stripes
Down both of it’s sides.

I’d only seen one like it
One other time.

I studied the details
In its wings.
The way they looked
Like fine wire frames
With a film stretched
Over them.

I walked through the butterflies
In the butterfly house.
I lost count
Of how many I saw there.

But then,
I didn’t really care.
I was just there
To enjoy the patterns
On their wings.

The grace with which they flew.

Then I walked once more
Among the trees.
Through the forest named
Enchanted.

And I remembered.
And I saw.
And I felt.

I walked alone.

Just me.
That’s how it is for me.
I have no one to ask
On days like today.

I’d have loved to take her hand
And walk with her.
But she was at work.

Work.
Where I spent more than half
Of the life
I’ve been blessed with.

Work.

That which nearly
Destroyed me.

There are parts of me
I know are gone.
That’s all.
Just gone.
Like a missing hand.
Or foot.

Sometimes I can almost remember
What they felt.
Those missing parts of me.

I walked alone.

Wishing, as I have
Thousands of times before,
The people I once knew
Would make the time,
Would take the time
To walk through the flowers,
And the trees.

Knowing they never will.
Even on a vacation.
Or a day off.

I walked alone today,

Through the flowers
And the trees,
Of the gardens
I love so very much.

I’ll walk there
Many times
In the years ahead.

I have to.
You see.
I have to.

For on days like this
I know
The walks I take
Through the flowers
And the trees,

Define a fragile line for me.
Between the darkness
And the light.

Give a hope to me
I can’t hold on to
On my own.

In a world
I never made.

Where I walk alone.

How Can I Trust You?

I took a walk today.
Through the flowers.
And the trees.
Through the garden
Filled with roses.
By the side of the canal.
Through the Camellia trees.
By the duck pond
With the fountain in it.

As I walked
I remembered.
Lies.
Oh, so many lies.
That I’ve heard
All my life.

Things no one talks about.
Because no one doubts.
No one questions.
No one wants to.

I remember all the years
I stayed indoors
In December.
Because it was cold.
And everybody knows
Nothing grows this time of year.
Nothing at all.

The leaves have fallen
Off the trees.
The flowers have all died off.
Bulbs hiding
Underground.
Beneath the frost.
Safe from the cold.
The birds are gone.
They all flew south.
In their annual migration.

All that’s left are evergreens.
Pine trees.
Holly trees.
Juniper bushes.
The other trees are bare.
No leaves of any kind.
They look like skeletons.
Or those line drawings
We all made as children.

And all the grass is dormant.
Or dead.
Unchanging,
Or shades of brown.

It’s the time of year
When nothing’s outside.
That’s what I was always told.
That’s what the behavior
Of everyone I knew
Taught me was the truth.

Now…

Now I know
It was a lie.
Because for the third December
In a row.
I’ve got pictures.
Of flowers.
In bloom.

Strawberry trees.
Camellias.
Pansies.
Even daisies.
And roses.

I took a walk today.
Through the gardens.
And I saw.
With my own eyes.
The truth.

Just one of many truths
I’ve come across
In the past 2 years
And 2 months.

I’ve learned success
Is not what you do.
How much you make.
The things you have.
The trinkets,
And the toys.

It’s not how you dress.
How you cut your hair.
That you shave your face
Every day.
Even on vacation.

It’s not what you drive.
Not an Audi.
Not a Porsche.
A Benze or BMW.
It’s not a truck.
Or an SUV.
Or that hybrid
You’re so proud of.
“I’m doing my part
To save the environment,
I’m being green!”

Yeah, right.

It’s not that house you live in.
With the two car garage.
And more bedrooms
That there are people
Living there.

It’s not all the things
You have in your kitchen.
So that you can push a button
And make dinner.

It’s none of those things.
None of them at all.

It’s friends.
People you can trust.
That in turn
Trust you.

People you care about.
People you love.
People that matter
More than all the things
There are on this Earth.
People that feel that way
About you.

I know this the truth.
I used to have a job like that.
One where people said,
“I want a job
Like you’ve got.”

If only they knew.
If only they knew.

I lost that job.
Until that job
Got rid of me.
And the funny thing is
I’m happier today
That I’ve been in 3 decades.
All the years I held that job.
That slowly,
Painfully
Ate my life away.

I have more people
I can talk with.
That I ever had before.
When I was the definition
Of success.
In the corporate world.

So many things I thought I knew.
Things I’d learned
From years of watching
How people behave.

I’ve learned they were flat wrong.
I’ve learned so many things
People accept as true
Are lies.
Are false.
They don’t exist at all.

But most of all
I’ve learned
So many of the people
I once knew.
So many of the people
I encounter ever day
Even now.

Don’t know.
They quietly live
Within the framework
Of the truths
I’ve learned are lies.

And never once
Dare question
If those lies are true.

For the grandest lie of all
Is the one I keep running into.
Time and time again.
The one they follow
Without knowing they do.

That is safer
To stay within the rules.
That to question anything
At all.

And after all the things I’ve learned
Are lies.
That your social world
Your corporate world,
Your material world,
Wants me to believe are true.

How can I trust you.
When you never question
Anything
At
All.

What are you afraid of?
No.
Really.
What are you afraid of?

The truth?

Fairies : For Rose (Part 7)

Dawn on the sixth day of Sword’s journey was absolutely beautiful. The sun slowly inched above the trees, turning the clouds and sky shades of pink, purple, and blue. Sword had slept well that night. The birds woke him up in time to see the sunrise. They could be very loud when they wanted to. Especially a screech-owl, standing next to your head. Sword’s ears were still ringing.He’d been angry at first, wondering why they would wake him so early. But as he watched the birds, he began to think they woke him for a reason. As if they knew there would be a beautiful sunrise. And they wanted him to see it. As if it was a gift. And the sunshine breaking through the darkness of the night, and bringing all the colors of the world to life once more was beautiful.

And he realized it was a gift. Sunshine. A beautiful day. This was a gift from the fairy child named Sunshine. Mystica’s first adopted daughter. She had the wild magic gift of weather. Sword smiled. Then he laughed. He felt great. His friends, Mystica and her daughters, were looking forward to his visit. And he was almost there.

Once the sun was up, Sword resumed his journey. Chasing the birds from tree to tree. It had become a game. Sword, chasing the birds, and the birds staying just out of reach. It was a marvelous way to pass the time on his journey. And in no time at all, Sword and his bird friends had covered miles. The birds were singing, and dancing. Sword was laughing, watching them dance. He’d never known birds could dance. He’d never paid attention before. But they were dancing. And Sword joined right in, hopping around, fluttering his wings, craning his neck, flapping his arms, and doing his best to imitate his avian friends.

The birds led him down from the trees, to a small clearing, filled with roses. Sword stopped there for a time. He looked at roses. Deep red velvet ones. Cream colored ones. White, pink, yellow. His favorite were the multicolored ones. With red fringes on yellow petals. Or white trails through red petals.

Sword sat down in the middle of the roses, on a well-worn path. And he closed his eyes. He knew. This was one of Rose’s gardens. He was getting close to the end of his journey. And he would soon see Rose.

The birds stayed there, among the roses, with him, as he heard a rustling noise. He looked to the West, and saw a shadow in the forest. A big shadow. He watched as that shadow slowly detached itself from the forest, and walked into the daylight of the roses. It was a wolf. A big one. It stayed on the trail through the roses. It stopped a safe distance from Sword. And it sat down.

The birds sang for a while. Then, they took flight, scattering in all directions. Leaving Sword alone with the wolf. The wolf just sat there. Watching Sword. “Am I supposed to follow you now?” The wolf nodded. Then stood up, turned and headed back the way it had come. After a couple of steps, the wolf stopped, looking back at Sword.

Sword got to his feet, and followed the wolf. In this place. In this forest. Near the lake. Sword began to realize things were different. Dragons weren’t dangerous. Wolves didn’t attack people. Predators and prey lived in peace. Side-by-side.

This was the land of Mystica and her daughters. He could feel it. It was a distinct feeling. A happy feeling. A safe feeling. A caring feeling. Where everyone was welcome. Every creature welcome.

The wolf led Sword down a well-worn trail. A trail walked by wolves, and others. A trail that blended into the woods. One that was hard to discern. But following the wolf, it became obvious to Sword. He knew he would never have found it on his own.

He’d been planning to head West, until he reached the river. And then, he’d explore the river to the north, hoping he was south of the lake.  After a couple of days, he’d turn south, and search for the lake to the south of where he’d found the river.

Now, he didn’t have to search. He could feel the wolf leading him to the lake.

Along the trail, Sword noticed more and more vines filled with green leaves, and flowers. White and pink flowers. And he began to feel music. He could close his eyes, and he could feel music gently caressing everything. The flowers, the trees, the ground, the wolf, and himself. He knew the music was Musica. And it was music that soothed all the aches and pains he had from his journey. He couldn’t help but smile.

The trail came to the river. Sword had never seen this part of the river before. But he knew it was the river leading to the lake. And he was happy he had the wolf guiding him. The wolf turned south. So did the trail.

The wolf stopped and took a long drink from the river. Sword did the same. The wolf waded into the river, diving under its surface, splashing around. Sword realized the wolf was taking a bath. So he waded into the river too. And splashed. He washed the dirt off himself. Washed the debris out of his hair. Got his shorts soaking wet, and mostly clean.

The wolf and Sword returned to the trail, where they stopped, and waited for the water to dry off of their bodies. “Thank you, kind wolf. You are wise to help me make myself more presentable for Mystica and her daughters.” Sword swore the wolf smiled.

When they’d dried off, they continued their journey to the south. Bushes filled with flowers filled in both sides of the river, they bushes were well cared for. Sword realized all he had to do to find the lake was find the roses of that garden. Find the trail. And follow it to the lake.

And suddenly, there it was. The lake. The trail just ended, and opened up to the lake. The wolf led Sword out into the clearing.

Rose was there. Waiting for him. She smiled at him, and gave him a big hug. Wrapping her arms around his neck. She never said a word. Neither did Sword. And when she finished hugging him, she took his hand, and led him into the clearing, where Mystica, Dream, Sunshine and Musica waited.

“Welcome to our home, Sword,” Mystica greeted him. “It’s so grand of you to visit.” She picked him up, like the little boy he really was, and gave him a hug before setting him down. “I must tell Oceana that you are here, and unscathed.”

That’s when Dream spoke. “OK. Mommy. We’ll take care of him.” And she smiled. And Sword, for the first time in his life, blushed. It was an interesting feeling, that burning sensation in his cheeks, and across his chest.

Mystica laughed, and so did her daughters. “I’m sure you will.”

And so ended Sword’s first journey to the lake. It was a journey he would make twice a year, every year, from then on. At first, Mystica’s daughters knew he was coming to spend time with all of them. But, over the years, it became obvious to all of them. Sword made his journey twice a year for Rose.

The two of them were like two halves of one whole.

He spent plenty of time with all of Mystica’s daughters. He loved them all. And they loved him. But he made that trip, twice each year.

For Rose.