Porches on Country Roads; A Ride-by View.

Folks from the southern part of the USA love their porches. If you find a home in the south that was built without a porch the odds are 10-1 it was constructed by a northerner. Maybe we love them so much because they’re hallowed remnants from the long hot summers we had before air conditioning and television came along. Or, maybe they’re from our love of hospitality, good company and storytelling.

Riding my old 1973 BMW through northwest Georgia these last few weeks I decided to concentrate on porches, just porches. The first thing I noticed is that folks are not out on them as much as they used to be. Only twice did I see people sitting out on their porches. Maybe they’re lured inside by the attraction of air-conditioning and taped episodes of shows like Game of Thrones. It is still hot here in Georgia in these waning days of August, so I can understand this decision. But even so, you can’t beat the feeling of a cool breeze under a shady porch, maybe with a whiff of jasmine in the air. Out on the porch it’s easier to let go of your worries and connect with the simplicity of the past.

So while I rode, when I could take my eyes of the road, I perused what was perched on porches.

There were the typical porches with swinging benches, rocking chairs and gliders. Others had stiff plastic chairs that folks had probably gotten from a dollar store within walking distance away. I remember riding past one house a few times that contained a solitary chair on the porch. What must have happened to someone that resulted in their choosing to have only one chair on the porch? A variety of existential possibilities came to mind and none of them were happy ones. Some porches had old sofas and reclining chairs. Most had coffee tables. Many had blooming plants in clay pots, others had hanging baskets. A few had wind chimes. Some had overhead ceiling fans just in case mother nature needed a boost. Many had flags proclaiming loyalty to some college, country or cause. Other porches had expanded beyond their original functions and contained barbecue grills, refrigerators and personal gyms. One had multicolored clothes drying on a line and children’s toys, scattered around like old memories. Twice I saw small statues of St Francis of Assisi.

I remember two quotes attributed to him:

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.

Great words to keep in mind in these divisive times. But it won’t do any good just sitting inside chewing on them.

Go on out on the porch, drag out another chair, fix some iced tea and invite someone to sit down and have a chat. Then, just feel that healing breeze.

Stolen! My BMW 1973 R60/5

I’m trying to keep all Zen about this but my BMW was stolen this morning. From the McDonald’s parking lot here in Rome, Georgia! Anyway, it’s a very unusual looking bike so it can be easily identified. Not that I expect my viewers in Brazil, Myanmar, or the UK to be on the lookout. (But do keep an eye open!)

I’m just glad I still have my Harley, Big Red.

Traveling mercies to you.

 

 

V__7CAD

The Joy of Riding a Motorcycle; Navigating by Dark Clouds; River Zen

The weather has been hot, but perfect for motorcycling, except for that torrential downpour that caught up with me, soaked me silly and forced me to hunker down at a Starbucks.

I’ve spent the last two days on my old 1973 BMW taking short trips through the beautiful surroundings of northwest Georgia. Not much has been blooming. The magnolias are finished but there are still a few remaining pink ballerina flowers on the mimosas. Pink, purple and fuchsia colored crepe myrtles are still blooming in the towns.  Orange trumpet vines cascade along the highways and the staghorn sumac, with its stalky, crimson flowers, races along the riverbanks. It’s beautiful. Not much in the way of scents other than the petrichor, that earthy smell that arises after a hot rain. Then there are the amazing scents of barbecue places you drive past, the ones with faded pigs drawn on the store glass. Still, I’m looking forward to Autumn, when the air will be filled with the scent of wood fires burning.

I had nowhere I needed to be so I navigated by dark clouds. Wherever they were, I went the other way. I ended up on some roads I’d never traveled before. Passed farms, fields, cows, and donkeys. There were tumble down barns and leaning, rickety houses, most of which were covered by kudzu.

I parked the Old Knight (the BMW) by the bank of the Oostanaula River, sat down next to a sassafras tree, smoked a pipe full of cherry tobacco and just watched the river flow. I gave thanks and said prayers for some folks who are struggling and watched the smoke rings from the pipe disappear into the air.

Later, I found a quote that I liked from a woman biker:

“…Riding on a motorcycle can make you feel joyous, powerful, peaceful, frightened, vulnerable, and back out to happy again, perhaps in the same ten miles. It is life compressed, its own answer to the question “Why?” (Melissa Holbrook Pearson)

Why not? Safe riding to you.