Andisheh and Timmy join you on your dog walk with thoughts about black birds, a weird ATM, the majesty of bare trees and a great spot for peeing. It’s the episode 1 of Oakhurst Dog Walker’s Companion. Don’t encourage me unless you want an episode 2.
Here’s the short essay in the middle of the podcast, including the images of the river and trees.
Oakhurst in January and February
Oakhurst is never oppressively gray. We have gray days. We have gray weeks. January sits in the middle of our wettest season, so we have more cloudy days than usual.
But Oakhurst is not Seattle, or northern England.
In January our fescue is still green. Trendy exterior paints of 2019 still pop. We still see the blue sky. And even though our days are short, the golden hour can be extra golden in January because the short days make the gold a little more precious.
Still, Januarys are as gray as our not-gray gets
The flowers are nearly all gone. I’m not seeing any azaleas or camellias this January. December’s once in a decade deep freeze seemed to shock them to into actual winter sleep this year.
Daffodil stems and leaves are already poking out, but we’ve got a couple more weeks before they bloom en masse. I saw a solitary daffodil flower early in the month. It looked rough. Poor kid arrived at the party too early.
Even though the colors that can make Oakhurst beautiful are taking PTO this month, gray is ok. There’s beauty in gray, and brown and black.
Our leaf canopy is gone so you can look up at the trees and admire their outline without the leaves in the way.
Point your phone and snap a photo. Make it black and white so you can concentrate on the shape.
If the sun isn’t behind you might get a silhouette akin to an intricate pencil drawing. It reminds me of an artist’s rendering of the human nervous system, the trunk is the spine and the most distant branches and twigs, the nerves in the toes and fingers.
Looking up at bare tree branches against the sky also reminds me of satellite images of dry river beds.
The similarity of the shape is uncanny. Maybe that’s because trees and rivers do the same thing. They move water. The difference is, they move them in the opposite direction.
Water on the ground flows downhill from the branches of rivers, the creeks and streams, to trunk of the river. In a tree, water flows up from trunk to branch to leaves, where it’s returned to the clouds as water vapor
It’s only in the satellite age that people like me can clearly see the symmetry between rivers and trees.`
I don’t know enough about religion to name one here, but I’d bet several nature-centric religions understood the symmetry without the benefit of satellites.
“Nature is a language. Can’t you read?” Morrissey said that. He wasn’t talking about trees though.
But you’re really, really hungry.
If you ever find yourself on a “locks of love” bridge, look closely. For every 99 pad locks whose key was presumably tossed in the river below to symbolize a bond that cannot be undone, there’s usually one combination lock.
A combination lock of love might lack romantic ardor, but maybe not everyone wants ardor. Maybe some people find realism and practicality romantic.
Or maybe they were on vacation and all they had was a luggage lock.
An essay I wrote about Atlanta last year:
How I’d Fix Atlanta: More Atlanta
Twelve years ago, Atlanta Magazine asked me to write some pithy advice to then-incoming ATL Mayor Kasim Reed. If I’d known then what I know now, I could’ve offered suggestions such as “never tweet,” or perhaps “send regular ‘don’t do crimes’ reminders to everyone in your office.”
Instead, I suggested Reed come out and say that the BeltLine would never be the transit project its inventor Ryan Gravel intended. Indeed, the one its civic boosters said it would be. That it was instead destined to be a great linear park, and nothing more.
Twelve years later, the only mass transit on the BeltLine is people violating the “one rider at a time” rule on rental scooters. I was right. But I also think I missed the point entirely.
Read the rest at Austin L. Ray and, more importantly, subscribe to his free newsletter for great essays from great Atlanta writers and thinkers like King Williams, Sonam Vashi, Jewel Wicker, Thomas Wheatley, Darin Givens, Muriel Vega, Sarah Lawrence, Gray Chapman and of course, Austin L. Ray.
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