Rewrite, Revise, Expand

I have never considered myself an excellent writer. For the most part, writing has been a way of putting my thoughts down into some format. I first started writing with more effort and conscious thought when I was over on Livejournal. I never really garnered a large group of folks following my posts there. However, I did start to realize that sometimes I have thoughts which, when expressed openly, could help others formulate their own opinions on the topic. Sometimes, those folks would come to a different conclusion than my own. For me, that was actually an awesome thing, since I have never really desired to have clones of myself. Besides, the thought of more than one “Tommy” running around scares the Nine Hells out of me. I think the world could only handle one chaotic concoction known as me at any one given time. Ok, enough with the self-deprecation.

A few months back, an Institutional Research colleague of mine from a college in Utah asked me how I manage to keep my sanity as a Pagan in a college system that seems to be so overtly Southern-Baptist Christian. As a point of reference, she is a Pagan Witch in a similar University system in Utah. I pointed her to the blog, and noted that I write to bring my focus back to where it needs to be. “Besides,” I remarked at the time, “those that project their faith overtly tend to be respectful of others, for the most part. For me, it is just a part of living in a country where Christians are the majority.” What followed was a long, drawn-out conversation in Email about the way that majority belief systems can be overly oppressive. But this is merely a side point, to provide the initial reference for the rest of this post. So don’t get too hung up here.

Last week, my colleague wrote me back, and noted that much of the blog was “interesting, and quite topical.” She noted that a lot of what I wrote was engaging for her, with the sole exception of my style of writing. “Its great stuff, but you need to go back and edit a lot of grammar, typos, and other little mistakes.” ::dead-pan face:: Oh, that hurts. A direct punch to the gut. And deservedly so.

I’ve been back through some of the much older writings, and as I read some of them, I cringe. Some of the writing makes it very difficult to read, and drives the reader – even myself, the idiot that wrote it – away from the overall point. I have mentioned that I need to do a better job of checking my writing before posting. Not just for grammar errors, but for readability. She is correct, though. I do need to go back to the older writings and rework them – for grammar, for typos, but most critically, for readability. But that’s not necessarily all.

As I read through those older posts, I am starting to realize that I could expand greatly on a lot of what I have said. And, some of what I have said no longer really applies, as my perspective has changed. So there is all of that too. So, perhaps, it is time to take a whole lot of steps backwards, and do some exploring of the past. But then, I started to wonder what I should do with the older posts? Keeping these around while updating things in the nwer posts, might make things confusing. So as I make changes, and update the posts – I’ll be deleting the older ones. I will note on the newer posts that there was an older version that the post came from, but that older post will disappear in favor of the newer updated one Except for minor changes made to some posts. If I do not expand on the material, and merely make changes because of grammar, spelling, and what not – I will make a note at the beginning of the post that it had been edited, and leave the original. In essence, its time to do some cleanup on what has been written.

I am not a professional writer. Sure, I have fantasies of being one. The reality of that is extremely slim. But as a blogger, I have a responsibility to do a far better job than I currently am. Not just  to you, the reader, or to me, the writer, but for others who may be seeking clarity about their own Path from what I have written. So, I hope you will indulge me over the next few months while I go through this process with the older posts. I will still post new material as well, but you will see some repeats coming down the row. Hopefully, you will enjoy this process as much as I currently am.

–Tommy

 

That’s Me

The past two days, I have been talking about the “abridgment of Ann Coulter’s free speech rights” by the University of California at Berkeley. Or at least, that’s the way that Coulter has been spinning the narrative. The reality has been that UCB was trying to keep their campus in a state of a “safe environment” for their student populace – a number one priority for any University or College. What has started to come out of all of this conversation – both in face-to-face discussions and online – has seemingly come down to a labeling of me by quite a few.

So let’s get a few things out in the open.  I’ve talked about labels and my dislike for them before. I even wrote a poem about it. Yes, I know the world works via labeling. Its convenient to pile a lot of these similar things over here. And some of those things that are similar to one another, but not the first group in another pile over here – and so on. It makes it easy to understand what we believe is the basic nature of this, that, and those others. Except it doesn’t.

I have been labeled a lot of things. Crazy. Odd. Hippy. Old. Out of touch. Headbanger. Punk. And so on. The reality is that I ascribe to three labels. Pagan. Priest. Druid. For me, these three labels are who I am. These three labels are what I am. What I say, what I do, the way I do it – all reflects, in my opinion, on who I am as a Pagan, a Priest, and a Druid. As I told Scott (I’m sorry to throw this into the post, Scott – its not a reflection on you, but on what I am saying) earlier today on Facebook:

I don’t identify myself as much. I’m a Pagan, I’m a Druid, and I’m a Priest. My personal perspective of politics tends to lean towards the assignment of being a liberal, but liberal doesn’t define me. Its an ideology that I utilize from time to time. That doesn’t make me a liberal, it makes me….well…”me”. My actions, words, and personal worldview aren’t defined by politics. Its framed by my beliefs, by the way I serve my Gods, and the by the manner in which I find my connections in the world around me. My political striping is merely a singular – and honestly, rather minor – connective string in all of that.

I’ve mentioned before my aversion to the label of “Priest” – and then came back to revisit the concept a second time. So, in a way, this concept of defining labels is something I have talked about quite a bit. But there’s a reason for that. I don’t believe a word, which has a meaning ascribed to it by our wide-ranging concept of “society”, can truly be a complete descriptive of a single person. I’m a Druid – an Ovate grade student in OBOD. Cat Treadwell is also a Druid. So is John Beckett. So is Damh the Bard, Philip Carr-Gomm, Kristoffer Hughes, and so many other people I know. Not one of us is the same Druid. We all bring our own individual persons into what we are. To utilize a single descriptive of “Druid” and apply a wide-ranging, generic descriptive to all of us captures *some* of who we are, but it by no means is a complete descriptive of who we are. We are all individual human beings who approach our beliefs, approach our understanding of the Gods, and our perception of connectivity differently. And this unique approaches are what makes us the people we are. Not some singular, generic descriptive of a singular aspect of who we are.

Most interesting in all of this, it seems that politics – particularly American politics for me, are what showcase the nonsensical concept of singular word descriptives of people. Its almost as if politics takes the labeling concept and wraps it in the dull, glowing light of flash-fired neon lights down the Vegas Strip. Are you a conservative? Are you a liberal? Well, honestly I have liberal leanings, as well as some libertarian theories, and some aspects of classic conservatism wrapped up in my politics. So what does that make me?

Well, damnit, it makes me who I am. A Pagan. A Priest. A Druid. That’s me.

Its More Than Just Typing on a Keyboard

Ok. So the last post I wrote was rather bleak in its outlook. The prospects of nuclear exchange can do that for you. But there’s more to life and being alive than being frozen in time by fear.

The calendar has us pointed directly at one of the two yearly turns of the wheel that I tend to run for solitude. Beltane and Samhain are both periods of time that I tend to avoid the outside world, and wrap myself in the cloak of my solo work. But that has more to do with the approach of others towards these two points of the year. This year; however, holds a slight bit of difference – at least for Beltane.

Part of the whispers I hear from just over my shoulder have involved me getting out into the wider community. I live in the middle of of nowhere – on the border between Oklahoma and Texas. The nearest Pagans that I am aware of are over an hour’s drive in any of the four directions. So getting “involved” in the “community” requires a lot of thought, a lot of moving pieces in the calendar, and a lot more dedicated commitment on my part – all of which takes this solo Druid outside of his comfort zone. But no one ever said following what the Gods want and direct you towards will ever keep you in your comfort zone.

Part of all of that has been about me going to gatherings and conventions. Earlier this year, I felt like I lived out of a suitcase. Now, everything seems to be calming down a bit more, and I am getting my legs back underneath me concerning my connection with my local environment. But there’s still the need to get better connected with the wider Pagan community.

Sure, Facebook does some of that, but that’s not what was meant when the pesky freaking beak hit me behind the ear. It just so happens, that in February, an opportunity for re-connection was provided, in the form of two folks I have known for quite some time. Both members of the Denton CUUPs group, John and Cyn asked if I would come down to their Beltane celebration. Apparently….well, its not apparent, its a definite fact…the Gods are poking them towards a particular celebration that I had only witnessed from the top of a hill at the last Pagan Pride Day event in Dallas (that was 2013). So I said “yes”. And apparently, a lot of other folks – both local and from distances much further than my own – have also said “yes”. And as each day passes, the reminders keep coming back in meditations and dreams.

The most poignant reminder has been:  “Remember your word.” I have been poked and prodded about rejoining the wider community for quite some time. And while I make efforts from time to time, it winds up being a dipping off the toe into the water. I usually remember all the politics of the wider community, and my overall distaste for crap like that – and the result is me backing off yet again. The problem there is I am not giving these folks a chance to be who they are. Rather, I wind up painting an old picture onto their new canvas. Many, not all, of the Pagan leaders I remember have disappeared from the scene. They have either moved elsewhere, passed beyond the veil, or dropped out of the Pagan scene for one reason or another. And the Pagans that are here now, are not the same Pagans I recall. Nor is Paganism the same Paganism that it was back then.

So, I find myself at one of those moments that I find in flow charts. A decision. Re-enter the community? Continue to be solo and isolated, with a few celebrations and conventions to punctuate the year? And all of that brings me back to so many other thoughts I have had over the past year. My struggles with the concept of being a Priest. My struggles with having the label of “elder” applied to me. And as I look at all these pieces and concepts, scattered across the grassy area of my Inner Grove, I start to see how each fits together. Whether I like it or not – I am an Elder. I am a Priest. I am a Druid. I am a Student. I am a Teacher. I am a solo Pagan. I am a member of the Pagan community. I am a Friend. And the Gods have slowly pushed me to a point where I can see all these individual pieces, and many more I have yet to completely identify, set out before me. And I can see how these pieces fit together, and where missing pieces remain. So, yeah.

This Beltane, with what John, Cyn, and their group of folks are planning, will be a special event and moment. Its also going to provide another Sea Change for me. I asked the Gods to help me grow and become the Druid, Pagan, and Priest that I am supposed to be. All these steps have led to here, this coming moment. Its a very scary, and uncertain step for me. But there are people that I know here. And other people that I have already met that here, too. And so many others that I haven’t. Be the Priest that I am to be? The Druid that I am meant to be? Be the Pagan that I definitely am? For all that take place, transformation will need to take place. Some of that has already been done – internally. I need to change myself externally, as well. And that means doing more than just typing on a keyboard.

 

Fearing the Nightmare Scenario of My Youth

I try my best not to speak about politics. The tendency is for people to either agree with what I have said, or to try and start a debate or argument. None of that is what I am trying to accomplish. I’m not looking for validation of what I think, nor am I looking to play a war of words with someone. However, I do have to speak a bit about something that has taken place over the last few weeks that has brought the world closer to a nightmare that my generation was completely obsessed with – nuclear weapons exchange.

Growing up, nuclear war – well let’s call it nuclear holocaust (a term that was bandied about an awful lot back in the 1980s, but one I don’t particularly care for because of the implications that get tagged on with the word “holocaust”). Or, if you prefer an even more charged term, nuclear genocide. Whatever terminology you want to use, the exchange of nuclear weapons on the battlefield, even with smaller “tactical” nukes, was a much discussed and feared scenario. Just a few decades before I made it to my high school years, school children practiced the “stop, drop, and cover” exercise, in the hopes of protecting themselves from what would be a terrible moment. When I was in high school, the exercise had been given up, simply because it was a useless one. As the world became much more knowledgeable about the terrible nature of these weapons, the realization that there was very little that could be done for protection (aside from getting indoors and sealing your home as much as possible) quickly brought this stuff to an end.

The fear of nuclear weapons was rampant in the 1950s and 1960s, where families built bomb shelters in their backyards as a means of protection. By the time the 1980s rolled around, many folks were in a position of essentially saying “fuck it” and moving on with their lives with the knowledge that “something” could happen. And eventually the fear of nuclear weapons began to dissipate to a degree.

Until now. In North Korea, we have an unpredictable leadership that is capable of utilizing a weapon that could bring untold devastation to certain parts of the region, as well as a desire to develop a delivery system that could reach the western edges of the continental United States. Here in the United States, we have an equally unstable and unreliable leadership that would see such an attack as a reason to loose untold devastation on North Korea and the immediate region, which would include allies such as South Korea and Japan. A nuclear explosion does more than just destruction to an immediate area – there’s a radius of fallout that doesn’t discriminate between your intended foes and the people you claim to protect. Its an indiscriminate weapon that wreaks destruction in a wide swath that goes beyond a local region. The devastating effects will be felt world-wide. And a nuclear exchange between just two countries has the potential to change the entire world that we inhabit. With that untold power, we have two national leadership groups that are just aching to show how big and powerful they are to one another, and either would unleash literally Hell-on-Earth in retaliation to other, with little care for how their exchange would effect other countries and populaces. All to assuage the egos of two extremely petty individuals.

Agree with me or not about the personalities of these two; there is no denying the destructive capabilities of these weapons. Even utilized in “tactical” capacities, where the yield is much smaller, and thus the devastation would be far less – the damage would still be felt world-wide. Like it nor not, we work in a world-wide economy. Any issues that would effect the economic capacity of a single country will have a ripple effect for all other countries. That’s the nature of rampant capitalism. Once everything is connected in a global economy, things that effect the economic capacity of one country will have effects on all others. And none of this even brings into account the effect that radioactive fallout will have on areas in the fallout zones – including the oceans, and farming fields, which would make the precarious balance of food even more contentious throughout the world.

There is no doubt that this “game” of whose nuclear penis is larger could quickly spiral out of control, and the nightmare scenarios that played out in movies and TV shows back in the 1980s could come to fruition. This, folks, is the reason that picking leadership for a country is important, and should never be made on the basis of not wanting “her” to be President because she’s a “Democrat”. Or voting for “him” because he “tells it like it is” without varnish or polish. Because what you wind up with is an individual that gives discretion to military leaders to determine responses to actions taken by other countries. There’s a reason that a civilian is placed in full charge of the United States military. Its meant as a check-and-balance against the single-minded nature of the military. And that’s not a slap-in-the-face to the military. The military is very efficient at what it needs to do. But choosing the response options cannot, and should not be left to military commanders to determine. Short-term options fall to a civilian, the President of the United States. Long-term options fall to a civilian body, the Congress of the United States.

Am I fearful of the nightmare scenarios of nuclear exchange happening between the United States and North Korea coming true? Certainly. I only wish that this country had elected an individual with a little thicker skin.

#TwoPence

 

Continued Contemplations on Stories, Myths, and Storytelling

One thing that tends to bind much of the Pagan community together is a love of the myths. There is all sorts of disagreement on what the Gods and Goddesses are and are not, And from my own personal perspective and opinion – none of that matters. What the Gods and Goddesses are and are not is such a personal, intimate thing – I would never want to create a steadfast rule of what that means. Real, archetype, imagination – the Gods and Goddesses are what They are to each individual. I happen to believe that They are real, separate and distinct entities. But that’s for another post.

Attend nearly any Pagan gathering where there is a central fire that is being tended to, and you will find folks gathered, singing and telling stories and tales. From my perspective, it is in our DNA. Not as Pagans, but as people. Growing up, I was a member of the Boy Scouts program. And even with other members who were decidedly not Pagans, there were stories and songs prevalent throughout the night. It is almost as if the act of building a fire where everyone could gather in the night brings a requirement of song and stories.

Stories are a wonderful part of who we are as people. We tell stories every single day. When we sit on the bus or the train, we might strike up a conversation with someone nearby. And the stories do not need to be complex, morality plays like the myths can be. It can be as simple as observations on the weather, or how crowded the bus seems to always be at this time of day or even just asking how someone’s day is going. We set our experiences in the form of stories, because it paints a vivid mental mural for those we are communicating with.

As I have noted before, I work as a Data Analyst. My job requires me to provide a representation of the data that I comb through on a daily basis. I work up a story – or as it is called in this case, an analysis – of the data. Sometimes, I utilize written communication to present the story, and sometimes graphs or pie charts. Sometimes, I even provide a spoken representation of the data as well, or even a combination of any three of these methodologies. Boiled down to its base element, I am a storyteller within my position. In my mind, its only natural for me to gravitate to these Pagan gathering fires, and hear the stories and songs represented by many others in my community.

As I found at the not-so-distant OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering, being at the fire does not mean that I just hear the stories. I also need to tell my own stories. And some of the folks there claimed that I have a natural gift for doing so. I do not see that, but then I am my own worst critic as well. But it certainly takes a little bit of courage to do so. (Another post for another time)

Since I have started to embrace the idea of being a storyteller, I see so many areas where storytelling is an integral part of what is being done. But the one that catches my breath the most, is remembering my three years in the classroom as an adjunct professor. I taught for the college I work for now, but I also taught at other colleges as well. I enjoyed being in the classroom, and relating some of the crazy things that happened to me during thirty-plus years of working in Information Technology. As I have told students before, if there is a way to do something wrong in an Information Technology position – I have likely done it. If there is a law to be broken in getting a task done, I have likely done that too – as my shift did back during my time working in a Command and Control facility in Germany.

To fix a fifteen foot section of telecommunications lines within a sectional wire harness that ran along the ceiling, we utilized a short patch by rerouting over a section of cable utilized by the Bundespost (German telecommunications group run by the government). We cut and spliced the section that we needed and waited for the Bundespost maintenance folks to contact us. We knew we had less than two hours to complete our repair, and remove the patch before the Bundespost folks arrived. Like clockwork, they called fifteen minutes after the patch had been started, and our time clock began. It is against the law to damage Bundespost lines, but we needed that patch to keep our telecommunications going for the Operational groups down the hall in the bunker. There were issues that happened along the way, including a momentary argument over the color of wire that was being spliced in. All of that is part of the story. And while it may not be of ultimate interest to many, I have told that story to a few networking students to showcase the need to repair critical components at any cost.

Stories do not have to have a teaching element to them. Sometimes, they are just for entertainment, such as my story of the Screen-Door Boar, an event that actually happened at the 2016 Gulf Coast Gathering. This was the story I told at this year’s Gulf Coast Gathering, which I mentioned before. Having never stood up at a Pagan gathering fire and intentionally told a story – it was a sweat-inducing moment, and not because the fire was hot. I really applaud people who have the courage to get up and tell stories and tales in front of a crowd.

Take a look around. See where the stories are, and appreciate the beauty of each one. There are TV shows that we watch – such as Game of Thrones – that we hang on every episode so that we can see where and how our favorite, intrepid characters deal with adversity, or even awkward moments. There are baseball games that we watch on TV, where every at-bat can be a story of its own merit. Each pitch becomes a sword-slash, a spear-thrust, or the loosing of an arrow in a battle between pitcher and hitter. There is the daily news. Remove the idiotic “as-it-happens” news cycle, and you have real life tales of how people deal with daily issues. And epic, historical moments that play out moment by moment, thanks to the never-ending aspect of the news cycle. There are facets of story all around us, playing out with each moment – and our vision, our hearing, our experience puts us in the position of recording all of that every day. A solitary walk in the woods provides you with a story that no other person may experience at that moment. The literal moment of “If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody is there to hear it – does it make a sound?” Except that we can change that slightly to “If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody that sees it has an iPhone to record the moment – did it really happen?”

Indeed.

 

Bending Intent…Just Not Like Beckham

The past few weeks, I have heard from a few people that my attitude is a little different. Of course it is. And its not that difficult to imagine why. Every single day begins the start of a new adventure for me. In the words of Jerry Doyle, better known as Michael Garibaldi on Babylon 5, “As long as you’ve got today, and you’ve got a choice…why would you choose to make it a bad day?”

Don’t get me wrong. I have bad moments in my days. Sometimes, I get chewed on for no reason at all by other folks. Sometimes, things happen that I didn’t expect, or don’t feel too great about. But those moments will pass. And then there will be the rest of the day: waiting to be colored in by my mind’s crayons and color pencils. Ho I fill in the rest of those colors, is up to me.

I do not work magick that often, but as I think about this process of going through my day – maybe I do, and I just don’t call it magick. Typically, its defined under the Crowley perspective of “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” So far the sake of discussion, let’s utilize this definition.

My typical day starts with greeting the Sun as we both rise. Me, from my slumber. The Sun, from just around the eastern horizon, as the Earth spins. The point, for me, in greeting the Sun is to provide a basis for the rest of the day. Clear skies, cloudy, overcast, rainy – the Sun will rise. Using that moment of tranquil beauty, with a coffee cup in one hand, and sometimes birdseed in the other, my greeting is a reminder that each day is a new start. No sunrise is exactly like the other. No start to my daily adventure is exactly like another. There are similarities, but no exact duplication.

From that moment, my day unfolds step-by-step. From getting ready for work (on work days) to driving to the college campus I work on, each day unfolds differently. Sometimes, the pastures on either side of the Farm-to-Market road are packed with cows. Sometimes, the only life I see is the occasional hawk circling above the fields. Each work day provides a new data puzzle to solve, a new story that the data gets to tell, and new conversations with people that I work with, and students who attend classes there. Each new experience builds on the ones from the day before. Sometimes, the towers of experience come crashing down because of a bad moment during that day. And here, I have that choice. The choice to color my day by this one experience, or to set it to the side and resolve it in the future, while continuing to experience the better parts of the adventure.

I don’t always choose the better part of the adventure. Sometimes the bad experience does wind up coloring my day. That’s where sunset comes in. Sunset is where the day comes to a close. Where the Sun dips beyond the horizon, promising to return the next day with a new adventure. This is also where I put to rest whatever bad experience has been coloring my day. Because tomorrow is the start of a new day, which brings a new adventure. And I certainly don’t want to have a shitty one.

In essence, I am taking moments of my day, and allowing the change that I want according to my Will. I would prefer a nice cheerful workday, where I get tasks done, but manage to find the fun side of the adventure as well. I am bending the day to meet what I am wanting to get from it. But like magick, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes the results are not quite what I wanted. Sometimes, its a disaster. I chalk that up to experience and try again the next morning. In between, I rest. I relax. I meditate. I calm myself. I ground and center. I let go of the experience that wasn’t so great. I prepare myself to try again, knowing that circumstances for the next day can vary a little or perhaps even greatly in comparison to the previous day.

I keep working at it, Altering small parts here and there to see if small changes will work better. hich I have done quite a bit. And I now have a routine that I vary only slightly from on a daily basis. Through continual hard work, I managed to puzzle out what works for me. The same can be said of working magick. When the results turn out not to be what you were expecting, do the hard work and research what you did versus what the magickal working called for. Find the differences. Look for small things you can change without changing the intent of what you were doing. Let’s say that the working called for the use of salt – and you used iodized Morton’s salt. In preparing for another try, perhaps using sea salt might be better. Be prepared to do the hard work. And yes, be prepared to follow the instructions, the framework, the wording….at least the first time. Try not to alter things without trying the original methodology first.

Like I said earlier….I am not a huge worker of magick. For me, magick is the last alternative to reach for. For me, the first methodology is typically the most mundane one. Elbow grease. Words. Communication. Actions. For me, this is where the first steps of any intentional act, magickal or not, starts. Just a thought (or five)….

–T /|\

Missing Home

Being away from home can be fun, an adventure, and it can suck the life right out of you. Since late December, I have been on the road at one point or another. A trip to Ireland. South central Texas. San Jose, California. Houston, Texas. Mandeville, Louisiana. Now….Tulsa, Oklahoma. And while each trip has had positives and negatives for it, I really just want to go home.

You never really know how much you will miss the place you call home, until you are away for extended periods of time. For me, the reasons are many, and diverse. There is, of course, my three cats. Shadow, Gizmo, and Kaylee are my daily joys – when I am home. Sure, there’s cat crap to clean up, cat vomit to wipe off the wooden floors, the constant barrage of “pet me, pet me” that each cat can utilize as a guilt trip for my extended periods of abenstia; but all of that matters not when I lay in bed with kitties all snuggled against me.

Nearly every morning starts with a similar note: stepping outside with a bag of birdseed to scatter for the local feathered friends, stepping over to the stone circle to face East and thank the Sun for soaring once more into the sky to grace us with light and warmth. Then its back inside to make a cup of coffee and check Email before I get a shower and get dressed. Sometimes I change up the order that all that happens, just to shake up the start of the day. If its a weekday or a holiday, a quick check of the news takes place, and then its off to get chores finished and on to writing tasks. Otherwise, its getting dressed for work, gathering up everything that I need and driving the eleven miles down a farm road between two cow pastures to get to work.

My short drive to and from work provides me a daily peak at the changing of the seasons. Spring and early Fall herald the arrival of little calves, who romp tirelessly through the pasture in the mornings. In the evenings, they sit in the middle of the pasture, zonked out for the evening, with momma cows clustered near the fence line to provide a front-line defense against my pickup truck and other vehicles that drive down the road. The bushes at the side of the road, and the various trees along the way call out for the arrival of Spring as their leaves turn a bright green. In late Summer, those same leaves will turn a slightly brown color as the hot Texas summer has created a nearly desert-like environment. Later, at the end of Fall, those same leaves will fall from the trees to trumpet the start of Winter, against which the skeletal frames of those trees will attempt to survive.

Home is a comfortable place, where I cherish each and every one of these moments. And when I am away for long periods of time, I fear that I miss some spectacular moment that gets played out on this intense, local stage. I may miss the budding of a string of leaves along a branch, or the soft caws of the Crows that populate the fields between my work place and home. Or I may miss a spectacular running jump and leap of the newborn calves learning to grow into their springy, youthful cow legs. And for me, each event is an important part of who I am, and my connection to my local environment.

And truthfully, I want to go home….