Living on Long Island was full of many little adventures for me – just in the ‘small things’ because I had never experienced anything other than the South. It was all new for me. When I began writing the series, “A Chattanoogan on Long Island” I was concerned when I moved back to Chattanooga that my adventures would stop. But the truth is every day is an adventure to me when I step out of my apartment.
I was told many times in the past that I ‘can’t’. When I set my mind on something – that word just doesn’t compute with me. I remember 20 years ago being part of the prison ministry where I would sing or give my testimony. One winter I was scheduled to visit a prison and Chattanooga had had an ice storm.
I was told by someone that I ‘wasn’t going anywhere!’ and that, of course, was a challenge to me - not a command. I learned that I drove very well on ice!
Being the baby of my family, being hindered in certain situations or just never being given certain opportunities in life – I sometimes have accepted the word ‘can’t’. And this is why my life is so new. I feel like Bambi learning how to walk! I learned to take my place in life and to stop accepting that I can’t or that I shouldn’t do something. I also have been guilty of not living my life to the fullest because it was a ‘hassle’ and I had gotten in a rut. I had learned to be a homebody because that’s what I did - I took care of the home and the people in it for the first part of my life. I don’t regret it though; it just explains why small things can be a big deal to me.
Last week, I was to meet with a couple to conduct an interview about their farm. Karen Persinger told me in order to get to the actual farm that I would have to cross a creek where there is no bridge. She said to call her once I got there and she would meet me and take me across.
I always try to leave a little early when I travel to farms because, unlike meeting people at their home or business for other interviews, when I put a farm address in my GPS it does not always take me straight there. I have had Samantha (the lady stuck in my navigation device) take me past the gravel unnamed roads that I should have turned on and tell me, “You have reached your destination” when there was nothing there. It can be quite tricky finding a farm – especially if a road in unnamed.
Getting to the Persingers’ farm in Rising Fawn was no trouble at all so I was a little early. I came to the creek and saw the road continue on the other side. Karen was right – there was a creek to get across. I looked at the rippling water hastening over the rocks and was surveying in my mind how deep it was. Yes… I was contemplating trying to cross it by myself!
I called Karen and she said that it would take her about 15 minutes to get there. I told her I had a Jeep and even though it was only 2WD that I think I should try it. Her husband Steve was already at the farm and I could go ahead and snap a few pictures. I liked Karen’s answer, “Sure go ahead, if you get stuck Steve can pull you out!
It wasn’t taking a motor boat across the river like the time I went to Williams Island, but I had never been off-roading or anything so this was a mini-adventure for me. A stepping stone of more to come!
Here I went. I headed across the creek, avoiding the big protruding rocks but also trying to not go toward the deeper water. Karen had told me that it’s a little tricky and I should stay to the right.
To the naked eye, the right looked deeper to me so, of course, I thought I knew best and I veered to the left. Right away, my wheels started sinking! Oh my! I really didn’t want to call for rescue. I could do this!
A million thoughts swam in my head as I had felt the Jeep sink down into the water. As the left side tilted, I saw visions of tipping over or getting parts of my car submerged that would make it stop running. I quickly veered to the right more, just hoping that my tires would grab onto the pebbles or stones on the creek bed and not skid or settle themselves deeper into a hole. I just knew it had looked deeper to the right but I had to trust what Karen told me and trust that the rippling water coming over those rocks was no deeper than the sinking gravel on the left.
The tires responded and toward the right I went! I think at this point I heard R. Kelly singing, “I Believe I Can Fly” and my Jeep just trusted ‘walking on water’ or flying above it! I don’t think I gave my Jeep time to think about it. It was that ‘ripping the Band-Aid off quickly’ or ‘don’t ask permission – just get forgiveness later’ kind of thing. My Jeep got across to the other side! I immediately nicknamed it ‘Animal’! God provided my Jeep and it was a good partner to have for work.
This made me wonder, however, how Karen knew the deceptive right side was easier. I wonder what little adventures she may have gone through before figuring that out. I have also always wondered about adrenaline junkies that perform dangerous stunts and what they did the very first time before perfecting their stunts. You just have to take risks in life if you want to get anywhere.
Once I got across, I drove to a clearing and witnessed a magnificent sight! It was just the other side of Lookout Mountain – but it was beautiful. It is my favorite mountain. I got out of my Jeep to shoot a little video of the span of the mountains – a single frame photo wouldn’t do. I felt the breeze of the trees, I heard a hawk flying over and there was a blue-ish haze over the mountain. Breathtaking. It is times like this when I feel God is courting me with flowers and chocolates!
When I got back in my Jeep, I drove to the shade tree where Steve was and met an assortment of canines! They came in every flavor! Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and dark chocolate. Steve pointed to the camping chairs under the shade tree and said, “Step into my office.” Can you imagine having an office with such glory?
The sunflowers! Those were my favorite. I had my boots on for the muddy walk, but forgot to prepare for insects or ticks. The last time I went traipsing on a farm in a wooded area, I had a tick bite that lasted weeks. When Karen arrived I took more photos as they showed me around. Steve picked some blueberries that were growing as we walked and he offered me a few.
When we sat in “Steve’s office" to do the interview, it was so much fun. Sure there is a professional side of me that needs to be able to hear my recorder, I would like to get to the questions and have it flow but I have to admit when a child, a turkey or a dog interrupts the serious part of the job that is another part of God’s courtship – making me laugh! The dogs joined in the conversation and provided great sound effects.
The girlie-girl in me felt as if things were crawling all over me because I knew it was sea tick season. Steve had a pretty, lime-green spider crawling on the back of his collar. My first notion was to reach and flick it off. I wasn’t sure how my new friend would take that. I figured he was a big boy. The spider didn’t bother me, I like spiders, but it’s the ticks that freak me out because they embed themselves in places I can’t ever reach!
The couple was so delightful and fun to talk to. I think what I enjoyed the most was seeing how they were enjoying their lives. We talked about how important it is to have that sense of naturalness and working in the soil. I was so happy for them to be living this life. I have seen more professionals getting into farming and gardening and dropping the corporate malarkey. The peace on their faces was as beautiful as the land I would see.
During the interview as I was asking Steve a question, his dog wanted petting and got right up to my recorder. He was panting loudly and Steve spoke toward the recorder and said, “That’s not me! That’s Roy!” I gave Roy a pat on the head. Karen told Roy to come to her. I think he was a bit miffed because he let out a small annoyed growl as if to say, “Oh okaye-e-e…” Then I leaned over the recorder and said, “…And that wasn’t Karen!” It was such a pleasure meeting new friends that I would see again on Wednesday at the Main Street Farmer’s Market.
Driving back out to the creek I saw the other side of the bank where trees were laid down and brush. It didn’t look like the way I came. But I was sure I followed the gravel road correctly! Maybe I came back the wrong way. Turning around on the gravel path was tricky only to realize as I saw that same beautiful spot where I had looked at the mountain that I did go the correct way.
I found a path with no gravel that looked like it would be great for a dirt bike but not much for a 2WD Jeep. We’ll see. I was brave because Karen already offered her husband’s services if I got stuck in the creek once – surely he could pull me out of this rainforest of trees I was entering. After a ways on the path, I saw to the side of me the creek was much, much deeper. Not the kind you wade in but the kind you’d swim in! My path got narrower and the trees overhead were heavier. I was certain I would wedge myself in the path without being able to turn around if I kept going. I looked for a place to turn around. The path was only big enough to fit my Jeep one way and there was a ditch on both sides.
I was forced to back up the whole way - I am not a good backer-upper. But I did it. I came back to the gravel path where the creek was and got out of my Jeep hoping to see where the other side of the gravel road was. As I got close to the edge, I realized that the creek sort of curved to get to the road. I had only seen the really flow-y part of the creek. I decided to turn on the video recorder on my camera and record my mini adventure ‘braving the rapids’. I sometimes feel like the character Ralph on a Warner Brothers cartoon, who would day dream in class and had many adventures in his mind.
There is so much that I never did get to do. So even if I am not in N.Y. anymore… my eyes still see things that others may take for granted. But to me… it’s always new. I have not ever crossed a creek before in my vehicle. I felt brave and I took a risk. In my ‘why not?’ phase of my life, I am not only stopping to smell the roses, that I never knew were there - but I am also taking small fun risks just living and enjoying life.
Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is but imagine a puppy in the fenced-in backyard. That puppy was raised and trained to live in that backyard. He has smelled grass before. He has seen the sky before. But when he is no longer contained in that fence imagine his excitement to see different types of grass and a bigger sky! He is excited just knowing there is a whole big world out there he has never experienced!
Once I got home from my adventure of ‘off-roading’ somewhat, I did a tick check. I found one teeny sea tick on my calf that was latched on. At least that one was easy to take care of. Next farm I head out to, I will spray bug repellant. I need to do that for my next small adventure too. I am going to do something this week that I have never done before and I will be facing a fear I have had all my life. No, not sky-diving, not driving a race car – it isn’t the big things that scare me. It only excites me when it comes to that!
No - this fear is quite small but it paralyzes me. Stay tuned…