Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Late Years Nine

Sunrise at Jordan Lake Dam through fog, 
photo by Ellen Tinsley, DVM.


The Late Years Nine December 30, 2018

The clock ticks steadily in a quiet house.
No bird calls for the hours. My heart
also ticks in quiet but regular rhythm.
I don’t see my doctor again for three
more months. Some mornings when I
drive at dawn to the dam and the lake
beyond, I can barely see through the 
fog. Only me, my dog, and my truck’s
headlights to guide me. My dog waits
quietly, expectant. When I turn, she
knows we’re nearly there, and she nuzzles
into my side to be let out. I have to turn
off the headlights, put on the brake,
undo my seatbelt, loosen the leash,
often tangled in her feet, and then we
stand down, ready to walk in cold,
in fog, in sun, even in rain some days,
when I get out my white umbrella.
The sun will be behind dark clouds,
slowly turning pink. Then the clouds
in the northwest turn pink, and the water. 
A steak of orange light on the southeast 
horizon. Birds high and determined.
Even eagles, though, at their height,
I can’t tell. The fog dissipates, more
birds fly over–gulls, I think. Maybe 
those are wild ducks. I do recognize 
the heron, with its slow, steady wing 
flaps. And once, up close, I saw a 

fully mature American bald eagle.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Late Years Eight

The Late Years Eight December 23, 2018

For Terica Luxton

She was Terica-4-Peace. She was a janitor
who ignored class distinctions, never mind 
race. She taught herself website construction.
She had grandchildren and fought fracking.
She loved flowers and sold plants to raise
money to fight off fracking. She welcomed
me when I joined the fight. She was one of 
the first to pick up her sword. She was a
proud member of E-Lee, Environmental
Lee, the little county that had had hardly
any polluting industries and now had a 
small amount of gas the frackers were after. 
Not if Terica was fighting. Then she fought
for her breath. We held ours. Would she be
okay? Those who knew Terica-4-Peace
loved her, She made signs and costumes,
marched and demonstrated. She didn’t
say much. She worried about her grand-
children. They all lived too close to where
the gas was under the ground, close to the
aquifers. She was a fighter 4 peace, a friend,
a lover, a doting grandmother, but her body
lost its battle with cancer, that ugly but
persistent enemy. But we know her memory
won’t die. Terica-4-Peace yet lives and
will win and keep winning.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Late Years Three

My backyard zinnias in 2014.

The Late Years Three November 18, 2018

Back in 1996, I wrote down my life and
writing goals. One has seemed elusive:
“I want to root myself here in Moncure,
create an island of sanity and love around
me, draw my children and grandchildren
and friends here to see me, and I want to
contribute as I can to my community.”
Now, at eighty-one, i realize, despite my
love of solitude, this island exists. My
son came, worried about me, to be here
when I had my minor health problems.
My students keep coming, in person or 
by Skype. New friends and old ones
seek me out. Yesterday a student from
classes I taught in the eighties. Marjorie
raised nine children. They all felt loved, 
and they spread out into the world and
went where so many people suffer.
Now she wants to write again, but how
to get started? Virginia comes and 
helps Tim rescue a hen who flew to 
the top of the chicken fence, and then
they put medicine on the head of the
one black one who lives with sixteen 
white ones, so she wouldn’t be picked on.
Other days, others came. Ellen who
studies eagles at Jordan Lake. The eagles 
know her, and she named them, revels
in their high flights, recognizes them
when I see only specks flying over.
She writes their story. A young student
wants to be here, look at all the pictures
on my walls, hear my stories, follow me
to the coop to bring scraps in the afternoon.
Virginia comes often, loves the spaghetti
sauce and homemade pizza, gives me
frequent hugs and studies poetry with me.
She says she feels at home here. Sometimes
I worry about the unswept floor or all the
boxes and papers, but nobody else does.
We speak of what matters and laugh at 
life’s absurdities and miracles. People
continue to help me. Roger came to help
catch hens before their journey to be
processed. He’d never done that 
before, nor had Tim. How lucky I
am to have my wishes come true

here on this island of sanity and love.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Late Years Six

The Late Years Six December 9, 2018

For Al Curtis

In the early days, he worked for Wayne Combs,
who had a place on Franklin Street, then out
in rural orange County. Al took over Wayne’s
business when he moved back to Elkin, up in
the mountains, so I always went to Al, and he
would go out of his way to help me. If possible,
he would let me wait in the shop while he did
repairs or changed the oil. He’d check the tires,
and he’d repair only what was necessary, and
let me pay over several months if I needed to.
He helped me find another car when my blue 
Plymouth with a new transmission got totaled.
Then I drove a gold Chrysler Lebaron for ten
years. My Russian friends called it the “dleenaya
machina,” the “long car,” when I drove up
in it. When it needed replacing, Al sold me his 
own mid-sized dark green Dodge Dakota truck,
and I still drive it. He fixed everything, except
the engine. One of his friends prophesied
that the engine had another ten years on it.
It has a new used fuel pump, a new radiator 
and other parts, but though with its rust spots,
it’s not beautiful, it goes. We chatted some
about politics or weather.  I took him 
some eggs, a loaf of bread, or fig preserves
sometimes. He told me, when he was having eye 
problems He used a little flashlight to help him
see. On recent visits he had lost weight, and
the last time we talked, in mid-November,
he said he couldn’t do the inspection this
week and sent me to Sturdivant’s. I know
now that he was even then suffering from the 
cancer that killed him, but I couldn’t have
told. He also advised my son Tim where he
could buy a radiator for his truck for little
cost. Until Randy called, I didn’t know what
I had lost. In my Rolodex, under Al Curtis, ;
I have the words: ‘My faithful mechanic.” 
For more than twenty-five years, he took care 
of my cars, and for fifteen, my truck. Few
 people in my life have been so trustworthy. 
Al was a linch-pin: steadfast, honest, reliable,
true to his word, a good friend to those who
saw him clearly and valued what they saw.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Late Years Five

Our coal ash victory party, when Judge Fox ruled for us.

Note: John Cross is on the right, next to last at the end of the table. 

The Late Years Five  December 2, 2018
For John Cross

Last night I couldn’t sleep after 1:30 so I got up.
John Cross was on my mind. I was remembering
all the ways he had helped me and our coal ash 
group. Getting the fish when we had a fish fry
to help pay the lawyer, giving me rides when we
met with the E-Lee group. He knew how to reach 
people about our use of the Liberty Chapel Annex.
He always came to our meetings on the first
Friday of the month, and he would call Bud
to unlock the annex for us. He was there at our
protests. Back in 2015, he joined with some E-Lee
people to carry into the hearing a make-believe
coffin to demonstrate the effects of coal ash in
our air, in our water. He came to court when they
tried our case. He drove to Raleigh when we met
with Rev. Barber on the steps of the Legislature
about the poisons in coal ash. I remember when 
Margaret Pollard introduced “my cousin” to me. 
Others of our members as the years passed, lost 
faith that we could win, but not John. He stayed
the course. He’d talk about his busy schedule. 
He went to many meetings: a veterans’ group 
and was president of our Democratic precinct. 
He was always a delegate to the county Democratic 
meeting in the spring and he’d work at the polling
place during elections. He was always there when
he was needed. He fixed a loose board on my
back porch. The day I fell down crossing our 
Moncure-Pittsboro Road because of a speeding 
car, he and his brother Wayne came to check 
on me. John, John, how will we do without you?