Winter Words / Vol.9 / Football, Baseball and Blessings

The time has changed. The weather has changed. It remains winter, as the vernal equinox has yet to visit us, but spring is within sniffing distance. The forecast for north Georgia is for warm temperatures but it is going to be WET, really wet, this week. But, like a friend said, as I stopped to chat on my walk around midday, we certainly have it better than our friends and neighbors in the northeast. It’s been brutal up there. May you thaw quickly folks!

Baseball’s Spring Training is in full swing and I caught a good bit of the Braves vs. the Nats today. The Braves won, 2-1. It’s not like that matters at this point. All the youngsters are getting a good long look and all will have an opportunity to prove their mettle.

I do hope the Braves’ pitching will remain as strong as it has been thus far. Nine arms combined for a no-hitter this past weekend. That was an odd game. It ended in a 2-2 tie as the game was called after ten innings. They had a shutout through eight today. Good going!

Yes, regular season baseball is just around the corner, but that is not the Big News.

The Big News is… the Auburn Tigers being spring practice TOMORROW. Gus will have a press conference at 11:30 AM CDT and then the burnt orange and navy blue will go about the business of beginning FOR REAL preparation for the 2015 season. YeeeeHaaaaaw!!!

According to early Vegas odds, the Tigers are 4-1 to win the SEC. The Georgia Bulldogs also stand at 4-1 and Ole Miss comes in at 4.2-1. Alabama is favored to repeat at 2-1. Fine.

All of this may be much ado about nothing, in the grand scheme, but it is great fodder for conversation when you live, eat and sleep college football as we do here in the Deep South. March Madness might be about to crank up, but football is what truly captures our hearts and souls 365/24/7.

Speaking of roundball, the SEC Tournament begins, in NashVegas, in a couple of days. The big question is… Can anyone challenge the Kentucky Wildcats? I have heard, and used, the term Mildcats when referring to the Bluegrass State’s flagship school on the gridiron. No one, in their right mind, would refer to their basketball team as such. They are a juggernaut! Their record stands at 31-0 and they are the prohibitive favorite to win it all. I hope they do.

Auburn has no chance to win the SEC Tourney or play in the Big Dance this year. That’s okay, for now, because the future is VERY bright for the Tigers. Coach Bruce Pearl is doing an outstanding job of coaching and recruiting, on The Plains, and I expect them to make a lot of noise soon.

It really is remarkable what Pearl has done so far with the program. Who would have EVER expected numerous sellouts in basketball at Auburn? How about the presence of scalpers at an EXHIBITION GAME?

Incredible!

And how about the promise of Easter?

It seems that resurrection is rearing its head in every aspect of my life. I hope and pray that it is for each and every one of you.

So War Eagle and Go Cats!!!

And…

May God our Father/Mother and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Selah

Advertisements

Winter Words Vol. 6 / Spring’s a Comin’!

I walked, today (3/2/15), for the first time in two weeks. In years past I would walk in rain or shine, hot or cold. Back when, whether I was walking or jogging, I didn’t care what the temperature was, I exercised. I have jogged, in Upstate New York, when it was 5 degrees and my mustache would freeze. Heck, my face would freeze! No matter, I would “just do it.” My Nike years.

As I have aged, and gracefully I would remind you ;), I have lost my ‘hell bent for leather’ attitude in my cardio pursuits. I have slowed down. Did I just say that? Ugh!

No, the last two weeks, here in Upstate Georgia, it has been brutally cold, precipitating, very windy, or all three of these at once. Therefore, no exercise for this old boy.

My dear mate, Miss LeCroy, Paul, Melodye with an e, or whatever you might call her, goes to the gym. I have tried this in years past, but it is boring and just… I don’t know, I don’t like this method of exercising. All the sweating, grunting, posing, strutting and the little outfits… it’s just not my thing.

I LOVE being in the outdoors… ALONE (Twenty years on the road so you’d better enjoy you)! I love soaking up the sunshine, listening to the birds and being at one with nature. I mentioned, in a ‘Winter Words’ blog last week, listening and enjoying the silence. It’s meditative, peaceful and somehow ‘right’ for me.

To each his/her own.

So today, it is now 58 degrees and so very pleasant. GREAT day for a walk! And I think we’re thawing out. I know there will be some cold days, and particularly nights, ahead but we are thawing. We’re moving steadily through Lent as we continue our journey toward Easter. There are only eighteen more days until the vernal equinox, the first day of SPRING.

The Braves first spring training game is Wednesday! The game will be played against my old adopted team, the New York Mets. It seems fitting.

Now back to the vernal equinox. From Wikipedia… “An equinox occurs twice a year, around 20 March and 22 September… An equinox occurs when the plane of Earth’s Equator passes the center of the Sun. At that instant, the tilt of the Earth’s axis neither inclines away from nor towards the Sun. The two annual equinoxes are the ONLY times when the subsolar point, the place on Earth’s surface where the center of the Sun is overhead, is on the Equator, and, consequently, the Sun is at zenith over the Equator. The subsolar point crosses the equator, moving northward at the March equinox and southward at the September equinox… The equinoxes are the only times when the solar terminator is perpendicular to the Equator, As a result, the northern and southern Hemispheres are illuminated equally.”

Amazing!

The Coming of Spring
by: Mary Dow Brine (1816-1913)

The ice-king trembles on his throne,
And holds his rod with loosened hand;
For there are murmurs in the air
Of one who cometh, sweet and fair,
To break with smiles the monarch’s band.

The skies are dawning a new blue,
To welcome her whose dancing feet
Thro’ cloudland hasten from afar,
Guided by sun, and moon, and star,
Her waiting friends once more to greet

The timid violets lift their heads,
And heavenward turn their gentle eyes,
And catch the fragrance newly born
Which cometh with the Spring’s glad dawn,
And steal their color from the skies.

The merry birds on twig and branch
Trill out the news with fluttering wings,
While Robin seeks the early fruit,
Impatient watching the green shoot,
And the glad tidings gaily sings.

The brook, grown weary of restraint,
Has burst its weakened bonds at last,
And rushing down the mountain-side,
Lends its fresh influence far and wide,
And Winter’s icy reign is past!

Selah

Winter Words Vol. 4 / Elvis, Simon and Garfunkel and the Like

“One more day, just one more day…” is a song form the Jailhouse Rock soundtrack. It’s the one that an old inmate, soon to be released from prison, sings at the talent contest that Elvis wins. Duh! That Jailhouse Rock song production that The King wins with was something for a group of prisoners to pull off.

The old dude was Elvis’ cellmate and had been in the music business as a free man. He was ready to get back out there and give music one more try, in one more day.

I really liked the song and it sticks with me to this day.

One more day. Yep! One more day that Miss LeCroy is out of school. One more day until she goes back to teaching the little darlings. One more day here at 116 Sundown Way, just one more day.

The snow here HAS been beautiful and I’ve truly relished the unexpected time me and Paul have spent together this week in Sundown West. But that is enough. Let’s move on toward spring, Palm Sunday, the end of Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.

I see it’s going to get up to a high of 69 one day next week. I look with eager anticipation to that day. It will be warm and, hopefully, sunny. Ahhhh, to be able to get my walking shoes back on again and pound the pavement!

I love my walks, and man how I’ve missed them these past two weeks. I enjoy walking without my iPod. I love the silence, which is often broken by the cackle of a crow, the bark of a dog or a rushing wind. And I, quite often, stop to chat with one of the neighbors who might be out in their yard doing something.

But ‘the sound of silence’ ($1 to Simon and Garfunkel) is what I most enjoy.

Me and Paul went to see ‘Whiplash’ today. I had already seen it by myself many weeks ago. And I picked J.K. Simmons to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He did win. He deserved it. His performance was masterful. But the kid who played Andrew, the aspiring and very talented jazz drummer, was also masterful. After all, Simmons SUPPORTED his lead. They played off each other beautifully. That was not an easy task for young Miles Teller to pull off. It has to be very demanding to hold your own in those gripping scenes with the force that Simmons was in that movie.

But I digress. ‘The sound of silence’. The movie moved me to ponder about jazz greats such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Monk was such a genius on the piano. But it wasn’t just how technically proficient he was. It wasn’t just his tone. It wasn’t just his songwriting. It was often what he DID NOT PLAY as much as what he did play. It was the silences between notes that really set him apart as a brilliant pianist.

Yes, it’s the silence that makes my walk. It’s the spaces in between that you really hear. Where mother nature gets your attention. Where the universe summons you. Where God speaks.

“Eckhart Tolle says that silence can be seen as either the absence of noise, or as the space in which sound exists, just as inner stillness can be seen as the absence of thought, or the space in which thoughts are perceived.” Wikipedia

“In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.”

Selah

Winter Words Vol. 1 / Lent, Football, etc.

Winter continues to firmly grip north Georgia. Last week was tough with low temperatures and strong winds. This week we won’t get any higher than 45 and lows will be in the 20’s for the most part. I didn’t even get to walk at ALL last week for I’m not as determined as the days continue to roll by like movie credits at a pace too swift to follow. Like it or not, I’m getting old and I feel it in my bones, joints and muscles.

Lent began with Ash Wednesday last week. I love Lent. This is only my second year of participation in following the liturgical calendar and I find it inspiring and educational. Growing up Southern Baptist, we had absolutely no idea what any of this was, and, quite frankly, we were a little suspicious of such matters. Catholics observed these traditions and we were also a bit suspicious of them. Heck, even Methodists made us a somewhat nervous. Sprinkling babies? Hmmmm…

Even in this day and time not everybody is overly familiar with Lent and such. I went to get a soup and salad at a wonderful little spot in downtown Cartersville, GA last Wednesday, after being “crossed” at the local Starbucks by the associate pastor of the Presbyterian church in that county seat of Bartow. I was asked, by the owner, if I had been working on cars. If you know me at all then you understand that such a notion is preposterous. Then I remembered the ashes that had been smeared on my forehead by the gracious Calvinist. We all laughed, there was also a Methodist present behind the counter, as the significance of the day after Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, occurred to the three of us simultaneously.

Football Spring Practice, yes I’m capitalizing the first letter of all three words because it’s quite important to we SEC fans, will begin in Auburn on March 10th. This is another day we highly anticipate. It’s been oft stated that there are three distinct seasons in the Deep South…Football Season, Recruiting and Spring Practice. National Signing Day was the culmination of Recruiting on February 4th. NSD was covered, all day, on ESPNU and pored over, ad nauseum, for weeks prior to that hallowed day.

According to scout.com, the SEC had five teams in the top ten recruiting classes in the country, and ten teams in the top 25. There you go!!!

After the SEC West took such a whupping in bowl games, many “experts” were declaring the SEC was on its way down. No sir! That ain’t happening! The Big 10, PAC 12, Big 12 and ACC might be catching up, to a degree, but the SEC remains as strong as ever. You can bank that!

And guess what? The end of Lent will be on Maundy Thursday, April 2nd. This week also marks the beginning of Major League Baseball season!

The wheel keeps turning and the cycle of life continues.

The temperature is now 43 degrees and it “feels like” 37. It appears that I will probably miss my walk, yet again. I am feeling it in my old bones and these weary muscles are aching a bit. And Lent reminds us that “it is from dust that we have come and it is to dust that we will return”. But that’s okay. Life is good. It won’t be long before we, once again, hear the thud of leather and the crack of the bat.

Life, death and resurrection. I am in the middle of my 63rd round. In some ways I can truly feel it, but in other ways I feel like a fresh-scrubbed, bright-eyed kid.

“Put me in coach! I’m ready to play…”