There is not a better form of escape that comes to mind than other getting in the car with a friend,food, music, and having no one expect you at a certain place and a particular time.If an old water tower signals the location of a forgotten town, you are free to explore. If peeling paint and falling trim catch your eye, you investigate. Driving as far as you want and stopping for no real reason is expected. Curiosity reigns and the mantra is “No Maps, Just Drive”.The long, crazy school year vanishes after the first mile markers. I actually cleaned out my CRV, got new tires and am ready to put on miles! Tomorrow we are heading across Tennessee out towards Asheville, North Carolina, and excited about the opportunities to make discoveries. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some new adventure in a week or so.
Tag Archives: Tennessee
Memphis has its own rhythm. It’s not limited to Beale Street.You can’t help but notice the motion of the river, the cadence of the traffic, the blends of voices and accents and the feeling that something special is happening right around the corner.Every part of the city is directly connected to its musical heritage – whether it be Stax, Graceland, Sun Studios, or Al Green’s church.Rock, soul, R and B, rap, ragtime, it’s all here. Every performer comes here when they feel the need to connect with their musical roots and cut an album.When I saw this guitar case in a shop, I felt like it served as a reminder and needed a larger audience.Sometimes it’s easy to ignore what’s right in front of you and the music is one of our city’s greatest treasures.
When you say vineyard, France, Napa, and Sonoma come to mind.Very few people would say Tennessee, Kentucky or Florida. Connoisseurs would discuss the soil, its acidity, clay or loam or the terroir that is achieved. Yet,half-hidden, on a small road in Kentucky , a small vineyard thrives in the late afternoon sun. Are the grapes the same? No. Is the soil duplicated? Probably not. But here , stretching themselves in the sun and lazing under wispy clouds are vines that are more than just alive. They are growing. Is it the climate? The care they receive? Specialized knowledge of the vintner? Perhaps. Could it be that they are in a place that suits them , where there is room to grow, and that they are responding to the environment in the best way possible? As they receive nourishment , they in turn produce and return the gift. It seems so simple, but for many of us, accepting that we can grow , even if it is in a place that we didn’t choose, is difficult. It is easier to find fault and wish we were growing in Napa rather than on a back road in Kentucky. Yet the wine produced here , while different in character, may taste as sweet.
Standing tall in Reelfoot Lake, this pine tree commanded attention. I’m not sure it was proud just because of the height it attained. It seemed more a case of, the odds were against me, too much water, too much wind, little shelter and still I thrive. Providing a home for osprey and perches for birds passing by, it also helped anchor a little bit of its world. From the boat, it looked effortless. The best in every situation make it look easy. While the rest of us often create excuses. it’s too cold, I’m tired of waiting, no one cares about what I say, I’m no different than anyone else. I’m afraid , and the list goes on. You wonder how tall we’d stand if we maintained our piece of the earth and reached up towards what it is that calls to us, towards what we truly need. It’s time.
Every morning this week I’ve gotten up and readied for school, pretty much oblivious to Elvis Week here in Memphis.
On Sunday , we played tourist and headed downtown to the Arcade for breakfast. We were seated in Elvis’s old booth, it seems he liked to sneak in the back door, so we sat in his booth and enjoyed country gravy and biscuits and sweet potato pancakes.
We wandered the city and reached the Peabody Hotel.
There we found a baby jumpsuit at Lansky’s ( Elvis’s favorite clothier).
Even the ducks were decked out for the week. As we walked down Beale, I shot a photo of both Kings to round out my impromptu collection.
Going to Graceland would have been too predictable so I chose to see what appeared in town.Shooting with my iPhone and processing with apps, I had a great day playing tourist. I hope you enjoyed this mini-visit to Memphis.
A side porch in North Carolina is where I borrowed the ancient washing machine and abandoned materials. The weathered siding came from a garage in Tennessee. Together they hint at a time before everything was electric, fast and disposable.Sometimes taking a step backward isn’t wrong. My memories of my grandmother spending all morning with a wringer washer and hanging the clothes on a double line across her front yard are strong. My job was to capture the errant clothespins and corral them in a pouch that waved in the breeze.. The kitchen smelled from warm soapy water and the scent of the clothes was a blend of sunshine and zinnias. Detergents and fabric softeners can’t compete with the memory.
There’s something about a pink house , maybe it reminds me of birthday cake decorations or happy spirits, but I noticed that I shoot a good number of pink buildings. The ones I’m sharing here come from Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Maybe it’s a southern thing, but the color is lighthearted . Even in their states of disrepair, there’s beauty.
The sun is shining on the first day of our road trip. Driving east on Route 70, the speed is fast and the anticipation high as our eyes search the roadside for photos.We slow for a road crew and the signalmen is wearing a black and white striped uniform. Transported in time, I reach for my camera as my friend slows way down. Shooting through the open window, I take two shots ,but for the next miles all we can hear is bluegrass music and think about “O Brother Where Art Thou? “As a throwback to the 30’s, the uniform fits our desire to shoot the old and abandoned , but it feels so backward and out-of-place.
Continuing down the road, we reach Hollow Rock, Tennessee. The Main Street business district of one block is deserted. Needless to say, we spent some quality time shooting the remains.
Later that night, I checked online to find out more about the striped uniforms. I learned that I am sadly out of date about jailhouse fashions. I think this is probably a good thing for an elementary school teacher.Although the uniforms were first discontinued by New York in 1904 because they were humiliating, they remained in use until the 1930’s through most of the country and abolished when they became too expensive. Recently, counties across the country are re-introducing the striped uniforms as a way to make inmates more easily distinguishable from the public.
Maybe too many people have adopted the orange jumpsuit look and I just didn’t notice, but I can almost see the striped pants or tops lending themselves to a retro fashion statement embraced by designers and teens.
While I , and many others, love to look backward to preserve what was good and beautiful,perhaps the county law enforcement agencies will look forward to create new ideas and solutions. Meanwhile, I can just hear “Man of Constant Sorrow.”