Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Memoir: "Shout out your sadness and pain. This can bring you back to normal."

Recently passing Harpeth High School after a spring hike, my friend said to me, "There's the school. What do you feel when you pass it?"

I responded that I still felt some bitterness about my last few years working there. Now after eight years of retirement, I want a way completely to let go of the bitterness and to help my old heart mend still further. My heart yearns to soften toward all that happened there.

This morning as I'm reading The Book of Joy, the Archbishop Tutu tells us "Shout out your sadness and pain. This can bring you back to normal."

Another friend discourages me from telling my stories--especially these three--because she says that they are private and no one else's business but mine. But I will tell them to you and to no one else. Please judge tenderly of me, Dear Reader. I believe that the telling of these stories will help to mend a broken part of myself.

According to the The Book of Joy, we are to embrace all of our emotions because they no doubt play a necessary role in our lives. The Archbishop says, "It is the hard times, the painful times, the sadness and the grief that knit us more closely together."

My teaching career, which was so instrumental in my life as a whole, ended on several notes of sadness and grief.

First and last, it was by word-of-mouth that I discovered that I had lot my job. After nearly forty years of teaching, in 2009-2010, I had finally realized a dream of mine to retire and then to job-share, I had worked the first semester, and my job-share teacher/partner was working the second semester.

It was January or February 2010. Through the grapevine I heard that the then director of schools Tim Webb had let all part-time and job-share employees in the county go! Apparently, he gave no thought or care as to who these people were that he was letting go. He wasn't from our county and didn't know us. The then board of education seemed have some control over the director, and they too must have wanted part-timers and job-sharers gone.

Immediately, when I heard of job-share teachers losing their jobs, I went to the school and asked the then new principal about the "rumor" and why she had not informed me. She responded, "I thought that you would have received a letter." I never did receive a letter nor a phone call from the central office. Nothing.

Perhaps it was all in the name of saving money, with no consideration for experienced teachers because the very next year the county offered experienced teachers "bonuses" of thousands of dollars (depending on one's experience) to retire, and many really good educators who had lost faith in the way the county school system was being run took the money and left the profession. (New teachers are paid less salary than those of us who have experience. So a county full of new teachers is going to spend less on paying its teachers.) My guess is that after the 2010-2011 school year, Cheatham County was left with a dearth of  experienced teachers.

Thus ended my nearly 40- year  career as a teacher in Cheatham County. There were no farewells, no goodbyes. About nine months later, my daughter and a former student of mine and one of my co-workers from Cheatham County Central High School hosted a retirement party for me in a beautiful venue in Nashville. They put a lot of work and love into it, and it was a really fine get-together, filled with many former students and some faculty, but it was bittersweet for me. Harpeth High School, where I had spent the last 25 years of my career, never even acknowledged my leaving the profession.

Since then, I have heard that my story of loing my job unexpectedly was a universal story in Cheatham County for that year and the next. Many good teachers and administrators lost their positions as unwise decisions continued to be made by the then director (whom the county eventually had to "buy out" of his job) and his buddy, the next director, and the board of education.

Lives and jobs were tossed about with no thought or care of how these actions affected the individals involved nor how they affected the school system as a whole. (Later a group of administrators sued the school system for loss of their jobs for bogus "reasons," and the administrators won! Thus the county ended up paying out thousands of dollars to settle those law suits! In the long run, I don't believe the county "saved" very much money, and it lost a lot of valuable educators.)

Nevertheless, my own career was ended before I had made that choice myself. Knowing me, I would have continued to work part time until I was ready to fully retire from teaching. It would have been a way of slowly phasing out in stages and of adjusting to not being a teacher after nearly four decades.

But here are the good things about my losing my job--my first granddaughter was born in late March 2010, and my daughter had post-partum anxiety and was not sleeping at all. So I was rested and free and able to keep baby Tessa overnight from the time she was a couple weeks old! And I've been keeping her and her little sister on overnight visits for the past eight years!

When the big flood came in early May that same year and my home was partially flooded, I was rested and free and able somewhat to keep my sanity and help with the big clean up and reconstruction of my house.

Another good thing was that I could not have made the decision to retire on my own; teaching was too much a part of who I was--so it's a good thing that I was forced into retirement. Also I did not know that my last semester teaching was my last semester teaching. Thus I was not then sad and griefing the loss of my career.

There are a couple other things that occurred those last few years that I taught at Harpeth High School that I want to tell you about, Dear Reader--one had to do with a group of parents who wanted me gone (fired) from the school system and another had to do with a group of teachers who broke my heart.

Those are the other two stories that I want to share with you in the coming weeks.

to be continued . . . 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Memoir: Feminism Is My Story

First used in 1841, the word feminism means "(1) the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" or "(2) organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests," according to Merriam-Webster.

A dear friend asked me at lunch yesterday how I had become "such a feminist." Right away, I wondered once again how people could not believe in political and economic and social equality for both women and men. Later this same friend said that she has other friends who were teens in the 60s with much more moderate views on the subject.

It was then that I was reminded of one of my male students calling me a "feminazi," which means, of course, a radical feminist. His calling me that word upset me; I think that it was the "nazi" part and its association with Hitler. I've always been proud to be called a feminist, even when it was not meant as a compliment (or when its meaning was misunderstood, which it most often has been.) I do not think of myself as a radical feminist--just a plain ordinary feminist--but in a small southern town, where it seemed apparent to me that feminism had not yet arrived, if it ever would.

I also remember returning a call to a parent when my classes were studying Kate Chopin's book The Awakening. The mother of a young man in my class wanted to know why we were studying this book. "One of the themes of the book concerns the idea that men and women deserve equal treatment," I said. To which she responded, "I don't believe that men and women are equal." I was dumbfounded by her remark, and for once, left speechless. Perhaps she and I were talking about different things.

"Equal" does not mean the "same." Anyone knows that women and men are different. But from an early age, I resented males being treated better by virtue of their gender, which was happening in my family of origin and in my schooling and in my being a teacher in Cheatham County. 

Most of the time, male chauvinism in our schools was "somewhat" subtle. Early in my teaching career, all of my principals and vice-principals were males (as if only males were capable of leadership positions). My first principal was male, of course, and definitely a male chauvinist. I intuitively knew that I was treated differently (less respected) because I was a young female teacher--differently (and not in a good way) from how the young male teachers were treated. What we now call "white privilege" was then "male privilege."

(Sometimes this "less than" treatment of women appeared to me to connect to religion--especially to right-winged, fundamentlist religions that taught that women were to be subordinate to men.)   

Research shows that teachers (male and female) call on male students more often than female students and praise male students more often and just generally give them more attention. Male favoritism was obvious in our school system--for example, one of my male principals was overheard saying in reference to me when I was disciplining some students for cheating, "What she needs is a husband." And still later I overheard this same principal saying to a male teacher, "Wouldn't it be better/easier if all teachers were men." 

Perhaps I can trace the root of my becoming a feminist back to my childhood. It was the 1950s, and I had a male cousin nicknamed Butch, and he was about the same age as I. He  was definitely favored by my Grandmother Drawdy (my father's mother) and her only sibling and sister, my Great Aunt Pansy. I couldn't have put this preferential treatment that my male couisin received back then into words; it was just a feeeling of being made to feel inferior to him, as if he were better than I simply because he was a boy. (It also seemed to be common knowledge that my grandmother favored her sons.) 

Here's an except from the blog that I wrote about our Great Aunt Pansy and for which I interviewed my cousin Butch:


"My cousin Butch would visit Pansy for a fun-filled week during the summers, and she would buy him spiffy back-to-school clothes from the downtown J. C. Penney's. With Aunt Pansy's attention, Butch almost felt as if  he had two loving grandmothers on his father's side of the family. Butch remembers, 'We (he and Aunt Pansie) always went to church on Sunday morning and then went to Clemson House in Clemson for a lunch of she-crab soup, roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy and real strawberry shortcake for dessert. We would joke around about how could they tell if it was a she-crab or a he-crab. We would laugh and talk; there was never a dull moment around Aunt Pansy.' Butch also recalls his family going to lots of Clemson football games with Pansy through the years."

In my memory, Aunt Pansy had never taken me or my family out to eat lunch or gone to a football game nor had she ever bought me school clothes or anything else. 

My cousin Butch had been born to my father's (Ken's) older brother CF, and as a child, I got the distinct impression that my father was somewhat jealous of CF and that part of that reason was that CF had received favorable treatment from Aunt Pansy and another part was that he had a son whereas my father did not. (My father had two daughters; I was the younger one.)

From that same blog, now I can discern that it wasn't only Butch that Pansy favored but also his father CF, my father's older brother--"Once [Grandmother Drawdy's] first born graduated high school, CF (Charles Fulton) went to live with and work for Aunt Pansy, delivering Western Union telegrams. Later she sent him to Clemson College, then procured him a summer job at Carolina Beach." 

So I can now see that it was as if I absorbed my father's envy of his older brother and transferred it to his brother's son Butch--but I can also perceive how CF's and Butch's being favored by Aunt Pansy and by Grandmother Drawdy most certainly set the stage for my becoming a feminist.  I was a little girl child, and like all children, I was trying to make sense of this world into which I had been born. It didn't seem fair or make sense to me that Butch got the lion's share of attention and affection. Simply because he was a boy.

Now this is over 60 years later that I write about this experience--that I put all of this into words--back then it was just vague, and not so vague, feelings. I have to wonder how all of this affected  Butch--he had to feel so special and so loved. I would like to go back in time and tell little Laura that she was special and oh so loved too!  

Thus the stage was set to fast forward to the 1960s and to today!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mindful Living in Today: Do Not Worry; Trust the Universe

Intuitively, I knew that "mindfulness" was the most important concept that I had learned from teaching nearly 40 years of high school English. Elsewhere, I have already blogged about "living in this present moment" several times, and since my retirement in 2010, I have headed up some "workshops" on the subject.

More attention is being paid to the concept of mindfulness in our world today--more "articles," podcasts, etc., on the subject. Ironically, I think that part of the reason for this attention to mindfulness is because we live even less mindful, more mindless lives than ever before. In part because of technology--in particular because of our smart phones, tablets, etc.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible has always been that one from the Sermon of the Mount that tells us, "do not worry about tomorrow."

Unfortunately, as a child and teen in my damaged/dysfunctional family of origin (which I've also already blogged about in my memoir posts), I was taught to worry about everything! Perhaps many of us raised in the 50s and 60s were taught to be too concerned about the future. Especially if we were raised in a family with mental illnesses.

Lately, my go-to word has been "Trust." It is imprinted on my key chain, and it is the word that usually comes to my mind when my yoga instructor tells us to find a centering word.  

This morning I read an interpretation of the "do not worry" verse from Deepak Chopra's book THE THIRD JESUS that tied "mindfulness" and the verse together in a way that made a lot of sense to me.

First, Chopra lets us know that this "do not worry" verse is one of Jesus's most radical injunctions to us, yet it is probably the least followed. Like everyone else, Christians worry, plan, earn a living, and amass money and possessions against some future time. And all of our society encourages us to do so. Learning to trust God's Providence (or providing) is a process that we can learn to practice everyday.

Chopra tells us that the most direct way not to worry about tomorrow is to live in the present. Only the present is real, but it can be elusive. Why? Because we spend so much of our time remembering the past and anticipating the future. The past and the future are "unreal." Thus the real and the unreal become blended--so entangled, in fact, that the present must be retrieved piecemeal.

Furthernore, Chopra gives us 7 qualities of the present to ponder and to embrace, and he further gives us their opposites to avoid:

7 qualities of mindfulness:            

Alertness--being awake
Openess--being free from expectations
Freshness--not being overshadowed by the past (yesterday)
Innocence--not judging (from old or past experience)
Spontaneity--allowing new impulses to come in without criticism or censorship
Fearlessness--the absence of traumas from the past
Replenishing--the capacity to renew oneself from within

the opposites:

Dull instead of alert
Closed off instead of open
Stale instead of fresh
Knowing instead of innocence
Planned or routine instead of spontaneous
Anxious instead of fearless
Depleting instead of replenishing (renewing)

Children--especially young children--display these 7 mindfulness qualities all the time, and all of these qualities are present inside us. So we don't have to learn them, but we have to uncover them once more. As Jesus tells us, "Let the children come to me."

Right now, the present moment is filled with memories, expectations, projected beliefs, and past conditioning. Allow yourself to fill the present moment in a different, far more real way, by practicing the 7 qualities above! Allow yourself to be free, for "the truth shall make you free." As a matter of fact, we need to be more childlike and trusting.

Retrieve the present moment by clearing out the past, which means whatever is routine, dull, knowing, calculated, anxious, and traumatic. You cannot manufacture innocence, for example, but by removing its opposite, knowingness, you leave space so that innocence can express itself once more through you.

Chopra challenges us to the following exercise: When confronted with someone you think you know very well, whose behavior is predictable, don't react at first. Leave a place for something new in this person. Ask a new kind of question, agree where you would normally disagree, withhold judgement, and see what happens. Distance yourself from past experience and expectations, leaving space for something unexpected to emerge.

This same process can be applied to every other qulaity of the present moment.

Trust the universal Spirit, ask for a change, and let this universe be transformed into a safe haven, a home for evey person, filled with life's necessities. Because it already is. If we allow it to be.

Practice the 7 qualities of mindfullness, of living in the present monment. And trust that your needs will be provided for. Chopra says that Jesus called this safe haven Providence because its purpose is to provide.

Because God or the Universe knows what you need even before you ask, I say pencil in your plans for your life ever so lightly and Trust that Life will flow through you and fill out your Living in this Eternal Present moment.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"Regrets--I've had a few"--Part 2

We all love imperfectly, if we love at all.

When I was a child, there were two people whose love I was sure of. I knew that my Granddaddy Clark (my mother's father) and my step Grandmother Etta loved me. And only me, it seemed to my childish heart, or at least, loved me best of all. They lived in Columbia, South Carolina, and I would get to stay with them for a week or two in the summer. I've written about their love for me in another blog post. http://lauramallernee.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-memoir-someone-to-love-me.html

To the best of my knowledge, Etta had married my grandfather after my own parents had married. I don't know Etta and Joe's (my grandfather's) story--how they came to meet and fall in love. I only knew that my grandfather "drank," and that my mother's parents divorced when my mother was a young girl. (Her mother had also remarried to my step Grandfather Wassil and moved to New Jersey, where we visited once  year.) From my family and society, I had gotten the message that divorce was "wrong" or something to be ashamed of.

I also knew that, at first, I had three sets of grandparents. Then I had two.

Here are my Granddaddy and Etta, Daddy and Mama and little eight-year-old or nine-year-old me with the sun in my eyes in front of the old store that my grandparents managed on a hot dusty street in Columbia, SC. They lived in rooms behind the store. I just noticed that painted on the wall behind us it says "school supplies"!
As fate would have it, my Granddaddy Clark died in his 50s when I was 9 years old. His death left me in despair, but in my family, I had been taught to put on a brave face and not let people know how I felt. So life went on. And down I went into the maelstrom of my damaged family.

Since Granddaddy was gone, I do recall visiting Etta only once; she lived with her sister(s) in Summerville, SC, and the old house seemed filled with those large coastal Carolina cockroaches or Palmetto bugs that scurried when one turned on the kitchen light at night. I do not remember our visiting Etta anymore. And somehow to my childish mind, that seemed about right, She was, after all, a "step" grandmother. Not someone that we were really kin to.

I do not recall being encouraged to stay in contact with Etta, nor do I remember any more connection to her. But apparently my mother stayed in contact with her because the next thing I do remember about Etta, my mother was telling me that she was in a nursing home and didn't want to live anymore, to which my young adult self replied that then she should be allowed to die. Possibly 15 or 20 years had passed since the death of my gandfather.

And these are my regrets about Etta--that I did not stay in touch with her--with someone who had loved me as a child--that I did not let her know how important she was to me--that I did not thank her for loving and caring for me and my grandfather--that I neglected her. So when I get to Heaven, Etta is another one of those people that I will definitely be looking up, for I have a sin to expiate. My deepest hope is that she will somehow find it in her heart to forgive me. After all, Heaven's the right place for forgiving; I don't know where it's likely to go better. (to purposely misquote Robert Frost)

Another regret that I carry in my heart is with my first mother-in-law Lucy Cooper.

Here are Tommy Cooper and I getting maried.

And here's the only picture that I know of that I have of Lucy Cooper--she's the pretty lady in pink smiling so broadly, so proudly to the right of her son.
Since I had begun to date Tommy in high school, his mother Lucy was nothing but kind to and supportive of me. After my junior year in college, Tommy and I married. Lucy continued to be nothing but kind to me and proud of me; she liked to brag about the clean and organized house that I kept, which to her was a great accomplishment. She taught me some of the few cooking skills that I had--like how to make the best whipped potatoes. Since he was an only child, Tommy and I ate dinner with his parents, probably every other week.

After about two years of marriage and working, I had finally earned my English degree and qualified to become a high school teacher. It was May, 1972, and I was gong to graduate from college (which my father had predicted that I never would do after I had gotten married). Again Lucy was so proud of me.

Tommy and I had rented the smallest possible house in Clarksville. (before tiny houses were popular). It was probably originally build for a so-called "mother-in-law" apartment in the back yard of a much larger house.

My parents were coming from Kansas to attend the ceremony, and though my house was too small for them to spend the night, I had invited them over for a meal that I was cooking after graduation.
I was so nervous about cooking and about the table setting and about the house being perfect for them.

Of course, Lucy had naturally assumed that she and her husand, Tommy's father, whom we called simply Cooper, were invited to partake of my speical day and special dinner. But I had to tell her that I had no room for them, that the table only sat four people, that I didn't have enough dishware for them, in short, that they were not invited to the dinner.

And though she did not show it, I know that must have hurt her something fierce. Pretty much, I thought that I and my family were better than the Coopers--than Lucy Cooper--I was still being that little snob who had dissed Dethula years before:

--and I was still trying to impress my own parents, still trying to win their love, I guess. It was rude; it was mean. And later I regretted it, but by then, Tommy and I had divorced (which also, I'm sure, had hurt Lucy), and I had moved on to Ashland City to my first teaching job and out of the lives of the Coopers.

So again when I get to Heaven, I have something to expiate--my mistreating Lucy Cooper in any of the ways that I may have done so. Decades later, when I saw Tommy again when I bought a car from him in Madison, he told me that his mother had died years before of cancer. Asked why he had not gotten in touch with me when she was sick, he said that she felt if people didn't come see her when she was well, she didn't want them to come when she was sick. I stood there justifiably accused. I should have taken the time to go to her and to have apologized for my mean act toward her and Cooper.

 Please Dear God, Forgive me now, for all my sins of commission and my sins of omission. Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2017

"Regrets--I've had a few" and I Shall Mention Them Here and Come Clean!

We are shaped by the people that we perceive love us unconditionally.

I was talking yesterday to a friend about regrets in our lives. She mentioned that she regrets not finishing college, and I quickly responded, "But you can still do that!"

Then I said that my regrets are such that I could not do anything about them. Most of them are about hurting other people.

Being known for my "tactlessness," I'm sure that I have hurt many people unintentionally and was completely unaware that I had hurt them. But these regrets that I write about now are about intentional hurts.

I'll talk first about Dethula Mathis.

There she stands in the top picture on the left in 1984 at age 54, I think. Sorry the picture is not clearer.

Here's the story. It was in my childhood in the 1950s (grades 4-6) in Madison, Tennessee. My family and I lived on Berwich Trail, way down a long driveway by the Cumberland River. For several years Dethula was our domestic, as we called black women who came into the house to help our mothers with housework. Though my mother was a stay-at-home mother (as were most mothers that we knew), she kept such a spotless, perfect house, she needed help once a week to keep it that way. Plus she needed help to do all of the ironing that was done back then--to starch and iron my father's crisp white shirts, my school dresses, etc.

My mother was not a very nurturing woman, but Dethula was the essence of the word maternal. For years, she mothered me, as I had not known such nurturing before or since. As much as I loved school and my teachers, I loved her more. I couldn't wait to get home from school on the days she worked at our house and was always greeted by her big smile and a warm embrace. Then I would hang with her as she completed her chores. On occasion, I would pretend to be sick so that I could stay home from school to be with her. She would baby me like no other--fix me my favorite foods for lunch (PB& strawberry J and her delightful concoction of homemade chicken noodle soup with a rare gingerale), read to me, and rub my back until I fell asleep,  Later I discovered that she was referred to in the Madison area as "Big Mama."

Me around 8 or 9.
So life was good to me in those early years in Madison, Tennessee. (http://lauramallernee.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-memoir-very-best-of-my-childhood-years.html),

And Dethula was an integral part of that good life. I had felt loved by her and by my Granddaddy Clark (http://lauramallernee.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-memoir-someone-to-love-me.html) and by my teachers at Neely's Bend Elemenary School.

Then we moved away to Louisville, Kentucky, where things changed for me in many different ways and where these things changed me. (http://lauramallernee.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-memoir-louisville-years.html)

Flash forward to Madison, Tennessee, 1964. After a couple chaotic, confusing years in Louisville, Kentucky, my family had returned to Madison, where I was to spend my best high school years--my sophomore and junior years at Madison High School. I had left Madison at age 12, feeling on top of the world, and I returned to Madison at age 14 an insecure teenager, thinking that what mattered the most were the way I looked, the clothes that I wore, and how popular I was or was not.

Me at 13 or 14.
So one day as I walked into the Madison High School cafeteria for lunch, I spied Dethula way back in the serving area. Back then, probably blacks were not allowed out in the front, where we students were served our food. Immediately, I ignored her. Weeks passed and I continued to ignore her, hoping that she would not see nor recognize me. But one day, Dethula caught sight of me in the serving line and her face broke into her biggest smile, and she loudly and lovingly called out my name, "Laura!"

I turned away from her as if  I did not know who she was, but not before seeing the look of deep hurt on her face (or do I just imagine that). I had become a snobby little overt racist! Because she was black, I was rejecting the person who had shown me the most kindness in my younger years. And I felt nothing, or perhaps I felt that I was jusified. I don't recall what I felt--except embarrassed that she had called my name, hoping no one else had noticed. That was it; that was the only and last time that Dethula tried to acknowledge me. I guess she knew exactly what was going on in my small mind and smaller heart.

As best I can recall, I immediately regretted what I had done, but didn't have the courage to make amends for it. I avoided even looking at Dethula the rest of my years at Madison High School, for fear that she would again try to speak to me. I simply ran my heedless high school ways through the rest of my days there, caring only about myself.

Sometime later in my life, I began to feel shame and sadness and repentance for what I had done. But one day led to another, and my life continued on in its shambles through college and into adulthood. Still later when I read D. H. Lawrence's poem "Snake" and taught it to my high schoolers, I knew that I found comfort in his words:

"And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

"And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life. [with one of the saints of life]
And I have something to expiate:
A pettiness."

Expiate means "to atone for guilt or sin." Synonyms include "make up for, do penance for, pay for."

I can see from an online obituary that Dethula died in 2010 at the age of 90 and left behind three grown children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. I wish that I could have visited her in this lifetime, so that I could have apologized to her and told her my story of how much she meant to me when I was a little girl who lived at the end of that long driveway by the Cumberland River and how much her affection for me meant later in my life..

Dethula is one of those people that I will definitely be looking up when I get to Heaven, for I have a sin to expiate. My deepest hope is that she doesn't ignore me, that she will somehow find it in her big heart to forgive me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Southern Utah in October, 2016--Zion National Park--my favorite!

After hiking in Byrce Canyon that Monday morning, October 17, I drove a couple hours to Zion National Park. Zion, like Capitol Reef National Park, is on the road that runs through it. Above is my first view of Zion.

(BTW, I'm sorry, but I notice that these beautiful, colorful pictures do not transfer to my computer (blog) as high defintion as they are on my phone. So you are gonna have to use your imagination to enhance them!)

Like Capitol Reef, Zion is also on a river--the Virgin River. In other words, a river runs through Zion, with all of its tributaries and creeks. Which perhaps accounts for its amazing variety of colors.

the sparkling green Virgin River
or sometimes blue sparkling waters of her tributaries

I had to go through several tunnels--some much longer than this one, which of course, required lights on!

That afternoon as I drove through Zion, I had to keep stopping my car and getting out to truly appreciate the vivid colors and forms of its captivating beauty.

I can't begin to describe the actual colors in this picture, which are not showing up. The colors of this same picture on my phone are deep tans with bright white tops and red rock to the right with vivid greens below.

Below is my view from my hotel room in Springdale, Utah, just on the outskirts of the park. The next morning I caught a shuttle right outside my hotel and journeyed back into the park. On the shuttle I met visitors to the park from around the states and around the world--there were many Asian people and people from Engliand and Switzerland. I heard Hebrew spoken and had an interesting conversation with some people from Isreal. 

Everywhere I went people from all over the states and the world were saying that they could not believe that someone like Trump was running for President of the United States! Sadly, I have to wonder what they think now.

Again the colors of bright whites and deep reds are missing in this picture!

There were many stops along the way, where you could exit from the shuttle bus. I got off at one them--the last one, I believe--and had a delightful morning hike along the river bank,

Unless you forget, we are out West!

As in the other parks, the cottonwoods were at their peak!

After I caught a shuttle back into the town of Springdale, I was treated to the best meal of my trip--homemade chicken parmesan--and from the restaurant, I had one of the best views too (see below).

All in all, this solo trip of mine was another fun adventure. I would not choose to go to these parks in the heat or the crowds of  the summer or in the snow and ice of the winter. Autumn and spring are usually the ideal times to travel into this region. Zion National Park and Capitol Reef National Park were my two favorites on this trip, but I would return to any of these Southern Utah national parks in a heartbeat!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Southern Utah--the third national park Bryce Canyon

So the 15 and 16 of October found me in Bryce Canyon National Park. Everyone is gonna have his/her favorite national park, and many had said that they loved Bryce, but I did not love it so much.

Yes, the towering rock formations called hoodoos were interesting. And the rose-colored spires, fins, and mazes were nice. But it was in the little town of Tropic one morning that I found more interesting sights within walking distnce of my little cabin.

The sheep farmer picked these apples off his trees for me! Delicious!

I've always had a fondness for cows, and these came over as if I was gonna give them my apples!

Even at the top of Bryce Canyon, I found a dancing raven. And still having an animal friendly day, on the way out, I spotted some doe and her fawns.
Ravens are very intelligent and capable birds. Some researchers believe that ravens have a rudimentary language. Ravens have been observed communicating ideas, not only to each other, but also to members of other species Ravens mate for life and are one of the few truly monogamous species of songbirds. They will continually use the same nest. 

These are the hoodoos for which this park is particularly famous.The Paiutes believed that the rock figures were people turned to stone by angry gods.

The next morning I explored a little more of Bryce Canyon before heading off to Zion National Park through that rock tunnel you see at the bottom of this page, and I found some more of Bryce's beauty.

I called this one star pennacle. 

Wasn't this a fun little tunnel? And there will be more to come--much longer ones as I approach and get into Zion!