Tuesday, August 15, 2017

This is our land

I am participating in the
Tuesday Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day.
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

The day is stifling hot, with oppressive humidity and very little breeze. Maybe it will be cooler in the mountains? What a delight to be in our air conditioned car, listening to our favorite music, with a few hours free to drive to our property for our ritual summer visit. A few years ago (oh my, has it been 12 years now?), Tony and I purchased four acres of land alongside a creek in the Chattahoochee mountains of Georgia. This is sweet country! Great hiking, beautiful vistas, lazy living. When our boys were young, we often rented cabins in this vicinity. Our family has enjoyed so many fabulous days walking wooded and mountainous trails, collecting rocks and sticks, splashing in streams, finding waterfalls, playing in the dirt, reading, drawing, and eating outdoors. One day (soon?) we will get our act together and build a simple cabin here, a get-away.

We travel to Georgia each summer for Tony's family reunion. Every summer we trek to our property for a bit...and our imagination runs wild with plans. We create sketches, talk about a porch overlooking the creek, wonder about trees, birds, deer, and bears. Then, turn around, we are back in the thick of life in Maryland/Washington, D.C. and these musings fizzle out, become more faint.

But, hey, Tony is retired now...maybe we will finally take some serious steps to building this cabin...let's visit again and dream.

Tony knows the way to the our land by heart, but for me, I am still at a loss for how we get there until we are racing along on this one particular two lane road that curves a little to the left and then, just at the bend, Tony slows down considerably and makes a sharp right onto the narrow dirt and gravel lane...a road that demands we drive at 10-15 miles an hour max. We drive past our "neighbors" with simple homes and cabins. I love all the pretty porches, the flowers, the stonework. I smile. We're almost there!

Oh no.

What's that? Just up there on that barn, on the right?

Tony, do you see that?
Was that there last year?

I don't think it was. I'm sure we would have remembered.

We continue on, quiet.

The next house has one, too.

That DEFINITELY wasn't there last year.

As does the next.

And one more...that makes FOUR!... this one is HUGE and ENORMOUS, hanging alongside an American flag.

I am clutching my seat, my feet are acting like brakes on the floor board of the passenger seat. Oh, Tony - what in the world? How can this be? I ask with alarm.

Four Confederate flags.

I try to absorb this visual assault. My mind is racing - these are our neighbors? Just as I think that I cannot breathe, cannot catch my breath, we pass by a fifth property with an enormous flag.

A rainbow flag with the word PEACE emblazoned across.

It's impossible to describe how this rainbow flag lifted me.

Hope, waving in the heat.

This is the world that Trump has unleashed. A world where meaning is reduced to bumper stickers, tweets, and flags; where everyone is certain and absolute, digging in their heels, shouting their truth, and not listening to the other. Daring one another. Opposing. Hating.

This is our land.

We stop at our property and get out of the car, walking slowly and quietly. A hawk soars overhead. Tall trees surround us. So much green all around. A smattering of lacelike white wildflowers. So many beautiful rocks. A chipmunk scurries through the underbrush. The creek glistens in the sun.

This is our land.


  1. WOW! I so enjoyed your piece. You created such tension in the middle as you saw "another". By not saying at first what "it" was, you hooked me and I kept reading. It felt the lowness you felt seeing that 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th flag
    AND then a smile came across my face when you described seeing the 5th flag.
    Then the tone ended in such peacefulness. I loved the description in the end as you stand and view YOUR LAND. And the photos!

    Thanks for this piece. I needed to read it today. I live in Arlington, Va and my husband, daughter and I are all proud UVA graduates. I'm still processing the news from the weekend. To me, your piece is so much more than just a visit to YOUR LAND. It gave me "HOPE, waving in the heat." Thank you for sharing.

    1. Sally, so great to read your comments! We are all processing the events in Charlottesville...let's stay hopeful!

  2. I loved the structure of your writing- the repetition, the showing, not telling. It certainly left me with many feelings.

    1. Thank you! I was trying to capture the suspense I felt as I made my way down the road.

  3. Maureen, I am happy to meet you and was so engaged while reading your slice. It must have been a feeling of comfort to finally reach your retreat. You just never know these days what each day will bring so going back to nature is comforting.

    1. Yes! I "lost" myself in the calm and beauty of our property; even with those darn flags enroute, I am blessed.

  4. So powerful, Maureen. Beautifully crafted, and we were riding right alongside you. -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/

  5. I enjoyed reading your post. We also "retreat" and unplug to our cabin. Ours is only 3 hours from where we live, in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. My husband built our cabin.....with more time, maybe yours can too. I wonder if what you saw will make you revisit where you choose to build. No one can take away hope or the restorative quality of nature. I hope you were able to enjoy your visit. Thanks from Carol http://theapplesinmyorchard.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/the-gift-of-a-book/

    1. So true - no one can take away hope or the restorative quality of nature. We still enjoyed the visit, along with some unexpected reflection.

  6. I live in a place where it's not uncommon to see a Confederate flag. It gives me chills every single time. Why so much hate? (I could go on, but I don't want to steal the thunder from this incredibly poignant piece of writing.)

    1. Thank you! I agree, "Why so much hate?" I simply do not understand.

  7. Great pacing as I rode along with your emotional roller coaster. Your writing pinpoints the power of symbols.

  8. Thank you! I appreciate your comments very much.