9.18.2009,9:10 PM
Have Cup Will Travel: Part Nine

Still strolling around Ball Knob Cemetery and I catch a glimpse of myself. Well, sort of. I mean, I know I'm still breathing and standing, but then maybe I'm a ghost after all. I've been called worse. But what catches me is that there was an "Elzie" here back in the early 1900's. Even though she was hardly a year old.

And then I realize I'm projecting: how do I know this person was a girl? 'Elzi' is a male's name in the Ukraine, female's name in Germany. Regardless, it is rare to see the name. But then, what's in a name?

I see the attendant cemetery outhouse here as well. This one is colorful! And then the discourse starts.

A solid concrete block house with graffiti on its whitewash. A response from one of our group was critical and negative: "It's vandalism."

"I don't think so. It's graffiti, yes. But 'graffiti' does not equate with 'vandalism'. Graffiti is public art. Vandalism is destruction and/or desecration of personal property. I don't consider that either of those."

The paint was not new, nor was this cemetery neglected. In fact, a woman was lovingly taking care of her husbands burial place while we were there. If the graffiti was deemed objectionable, it would have been painted over in a hurry.

We agreed to disagree. But I pushed the other rider out of his box a little bit to see graffiti from another perspective than just quick judgment and condemnation. I played Devil's Advocate.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Art is in the eye of both the creator and the beholder. Graffiti is Writing on the Walls. It is a form of expression. Even if we object with that which is expressed, do we still have that freedom to express ourselves? Or do we allow ourselves to be repressed by convention to the point that we are all homogeneous, creating only that which is socially acceptable by all, such as a culturally constructed mural with angels and halo? After all, Jesus does love you.

After gearing up, we rode on to find The Pines. The grasslands is home to two groves of pine trees. These are special to me; I love pine trees. They are more than just trees; they contain associations and memories of decades spent in Maine. Their smell fills my nostrils with an aroma of years and a chapter of my younger life, a simpler life. They make me smile. This time, I was saddened.

We pulled off the gravel road and breached that red sand that before had been red mud. My first time here was riding the Sherpa. All the others rode through the mud. I took the high trail; the dry trail (my pragmatic mind asked 'Why ride through the mud and get splattered and caked when it can be avoided by riding to the higher side?'). Their bikes were caked with red mud and dried covered with red mud. The Sherpa was clean and smiling.

This time, I rode on the sand with the DR. And was tickled at how easy it was. Considering my last ride in sand (in Big Bend), Lizard Brain began its "No, No, No!!!" dance inside my head, but I told it to shut up. Granted, the trail was only about maybe 100 feet long, but the DR didn't even notice the dry liquid (for you fysicks nerds, yes, sand exhibits properties of water, so think of it as 'dry water'). I even executed a beautiful U-turn at the end. I smiled big.

A wire fence blocked our path into the pine barren, but that didn't stop us. It was erected to block vehicular traffic from the equestrian trails that meander through the area. Rounding the bend, we noticed several things different from our visit earlier this year.

Water level in the small pond was very low.

And fire had ravaged the area.

Bryan walked deep into the barren and reported back that the damage went far back into the barren. Whereas the immediate area around the pond was green and untouched by fire. We speculated if this was an accidentally ignited fire (cigarette? campfire?) or if it was a prescribed burn. I still don't know.

If you ever look at pine trees closely, you might see that they are like reptiles: they have scales. Well, the bark is thick scales that protect the heartwood. They have some insulating properties and most adult pine tree species can withstand a degree of intense heat, including fires. The real damage is to the leaves; the pine needles. This reduces their photosynthetic capacity (which are part of the plants' machinery to convert sunlight, water and soil nutrients to food). This can be a bad thing, or a not so bad thing. It depends on how stressed they are during recovery. Right now, with all the rain and cooler temps, they probably have a good chance at recovery.

I think I'll go back to visit periodically to check on my friends' recovery.

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posted by Macrobe
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