And here it is November.
I always liked the morning after Halloween when I was a kid, because that meant it was November– the month of my birthday. Maybe I’ll say more about that when the time comes (Nov 15).
In the meantime, it has been a surprisingly colorful autumn here in Middle Tennessee. I say surprising because it has also been very dry, and that usually means that the foliage turns brown before it has a chance to show the full range of color that comes with some seasons. This hear has been pretty spectacular, actually (Photoshop helps, but ya gotta have something to start with) and I’ve been taking pictures during my daily jaunts around the neighborhood here in Sunny West Bumfuque.
Most years, I go on some kind of ‘Fall Tour’ to some colorful place. Like last year I drove all the way to Quebec City – the most European city you can drive to from Tennessee (and with the top down most of the way). That was during the first few months of my self-imposed exile from ‘the socials’, and I never did post any of those photos, like, anywhere. I’ve started doing that now.
It’s all mostly gone now. My yard is covered with dead leaves, and Winter is Coming.
Here’s some instrumental music to listen to while you’re sitting by the fire:
I have always been interested in American history. Even when I was failing every other subject during my junior year high school, I did well in an American history class. I am an attentive student of the ‘Early National’ period, owing in large part to my devoted following of Clay Jenkinson’s ‘Thomas Jefferson Hour” podcast (and I’ve been to Monticello like four times – I should dredge up some of those photos, too).
In 2011, that general interest in the subject drew me into a partnership with songwriter/producer/guitarist Thomm Jutz, songwriter Peter Cronin and a host of Nashville’s finest as Executive Producer for ‘The 1861 Project’ – a series of three CDs released to coincide with the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. In the course of that project, learned a great deal about the ‘War Between The States’ (aka ‘The War of Northern Aggression if you’re from the South) and in particular the gory details of the Battle of Gettysburg.
When I started thinking about a destination for my annual ‘Fall Tour’ last year, I decided it was finally time to see Gettysburg for myself. I spent the better part of three days there, finally seeing for myself all the spots I’d read about: The Angle, Seminary Ridge, The Seminary Cupola, Little Round Top, the Highwater Mark of The Confederacy.
I’ve never done anything with all the photos I took during that trip, which also took me to Cooperstown NY (Baseball Hall of Fame), Quebec, Canada (the most European city you can drive to), New England (Alice’s Restaurant), my old stomping ground in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Here’s some photos I shot during the first leg of the trip. Over the next coupla/few weeks I’ll post some from the other stops. I’d gotten off the socials a few months before that trip, and hadn’t fired up this site and My Dunbar Project until a few months after – so this is the first time I’ve shown this stuff anywhere.
While I’m at it, here’s some of the best stuff from The 1861 Project:
… I see on my morning walks through the neighborhood.
According to my plant-identifier app it’s called a Man of The Earth. Ipomoea pandurate.
This is what the rest of it looks like around my neighbor’s mailbox:
I keep a baseball by my desk. I’m not sure where it came from. Beneath the Rawlings logo there’s a stamp that says it’s an “Official Ball” from the Pacific Coast league, so I must have picked up at one of the many Nashville Sounds games I go to.
I keep it by my desk and when I’m proofreading something I’ve written, I pick it up to give my fingers something to do when they’re not flapping away at the keys.
My ‘fidget spinner’
I like the way a baseball feels in my hand. I like the smooth texture of the leather surface, the tight precision of the laces, the hardness of the thing.
Mind you, I could never do much with an actual baseball. I never could judge the flight of a fly ball off the bat; I’d set myself where I thought it was gonna come down and … it always went over my head. And it scared the living daylights out of me when Donnie Cohn pitched hardball in summer camp.
They say the the hardest thing in all of sports is “swing the round bat at the round ball – and hit it squarely.” The doesn’t even take into account that the ball is coming at your head at 90 miles an hour. Before you can even think about swinging, the first thing you have to do is not duck.
Still, I just like the way a baseball feels in my hand. It’s much more organic than one of those ‘fidget spinner” gizmos.
Have I mentioned yet that I’ve got a ‘part time summer job’ at the ballpark?
Under the Neon Bluebird: On the left, Don Henry;
hiding under hats L-R: Tom Kimmel, Dana Cooper and Michael Lille
The Bluebird Cafe figured pretty prominently in my early days/years in Nashville. I went there a lot. I don’t go there as much as I used to. Since the venue was a featured location in the TeeVee show Nashville for several seasons, it is near the top of most visitors’ ‘must see/do’ list when they come to Music City – which means reservations are very hard to come by unless you jump on the website within minutes of tickets going on sale.
It’s kinda like Yogi Berra once said of a popular club in New York,
Nobody goes there any more – it’s too crowded.
I don’t monitor the Bluebird schedule like I used to, and if Dana Cooper hadn’t called me and let me know this show was happening, I would have been kicking myself if I heard about it after the fact.
Because all of these guys – especially Michael Lille and Tom Kimmel – played a pivotal role in those early years.
I think I first heard Michael Lille at the Commodore Club on West End in 1994. The first thing I noticed about Michael was his approach to the guitar, it had a very ‘Michael Hedges/New Age’ quality to it – very unlike the shredding metal sound I heard from most plugged-in acoustic guitars (I still hate that sound). Then he performed a song called ‘Life On the Run’. The song describes a trip Michael took to Indonesia, and waking up to the sound of “laughing children at the edge of the sea” – and contrasts that to his (our) lives in Western what–we–call ‘Civilization.’ I’ll put the only recording of the song in a playlist below, here’s the chorus:
They kneel on the ground
And raise their heads up to the sky
And thank the lord for another day begun
The wheel goes around
Far away on the other side
You and I live life on the run
To this day I cite that as the moment I realized that there was more to Nashville than the popular perception (think Hee Haw) that most people outside the 440 beltway have of the city – that there is a deep well of talent that flourishes just beneath the thin crust of mainstream country music business. That was one of the two primary motivations at work when I started to ask the people I was meeting ‘what would you think if I tried to sell some of your CDs on the Internet?’ This was 1995, so a common answer was ‘what’s the Internet?’
Fall is my favorite season, but the middle of April is my favorite time of the year.
That’s when the foliage begins to return, when the grey landscape of winter takes on a fringe of green.
I see it everywhere – on my morning walks, when I’m driving around and see a hill in the distance that has begun to show hints of the green to come.
It’s the fringe, and its suggestion of renewal (another winter survived!) that appeals to me.
But, boy, is that fringe hard to capture in a photo.
Here are a few attempts.
Not my best work ever, but, well… you get the idea.
In another week or two, the foliage will be filled in, summer will near, and the scene won’t change much util October.
These photos were shot with an iPhone 13 Pro and edited in Adobe Lightroom and Luminar Neo.
And if you have any doubt as to the fleeting quality of the weeks just past, well, this is what my neighborhood looks like now (May 2, 2022):
Every morning for the past several years now (thanks, Jerry), the first thing I do once I hoist myself out of bed is put on my sneakers and go for a two-or-three mile walk before I re-plant myself in a chair with my coffee and laptop.
Over the past week or so (late April) it seems this year’s crop of dandelions have all come and gone. Mostly they look like this now:
…which is to say, they have scattered their seed to the wind and what remains will return to the earth for another year.
But a couple of mornings ago, I found one that was nestled in among some bushes, still completely intact in its ‘just before it all gets blown away’ phase. It made a nice image with the macro lens on my iPhone 13 Pro.
I took myself to Cheekwood yesterday…
… and aimed my macro lens into some tulips.
From my walk this morning.
How can there possibly be snow in the forecast for tonight?
Oh yeah. March.
Just something that caught my eye on my ‘morning constitutional’ the very cold morning of this past January 23.