Ocean divide – sunset or rise

As we gaze across the sea at each other’s world, what do you see? Thousands of miles of natural barrier without the vessels to merge our physicality.

There are no barriers even across oceans so wide – that our thoughts can’t merge – for the benefit of humankind.

Way across the Atlantic from west to east I see, and yet wonder if you’re looking back at me.

 

From my very breezy abode at Florida’s Daytona Beach Shores, anticipation builds as the sun casts its glow; and yet I wonder what you see from abroad.

Although there are clouds that darken the sky, hiding the rays; I know the sun is there ready to break through another day.

 

 

 

 

 

I see the rays over the clouds and no darkness hides the light. Even in the darkest of night the sun still shines as bright.


 

 

 

 

While the wind howls and the sand blinds our eyes, the sun arises, not to my surprise.


And still I wonder what you see, across the barrier so far?

Is the glow diminishing and easing out of sight? While others see it rising – to stir surrounding life.

With anticipation we see the glow peek, and say hello to the morning break.


While you may be far, we are still here. Although the waves crash around – there is peace above, as –

The sun shines bright to light our day – and chases the dark so far away.

So remember each day there is sunset and rise. We can still see the world as one and choose to shine.

With Heavenly Love, Ron

Quaint Georgia fish town with history

Coming from a big city I like to take casual drives through rural towns, absorbing some of the local flavor, sights and sounds.

I recently eased thro41127415041_c7194700f1_ough Darien, Georgia (U.S.A) (founded in 1736) while attempting to locate something unique in this less-traveled area.

There is a nugget in every town I travel through and my personal task is to see what it is – in my own view anyway.

IMG_4619My first observation in the Atlantic Ocean coastal town of Darien was the fishing boats lined up in the Altamaha River.  I drove slightly off the main road and noticed a few fishing boats that definitely brought in their share over the years.  Their wear-and-tear was evident, but they continue to provide a living for local fishers.

 

This was an opportunity to drive my Subaru Outback off road – although it was in IMG_4628just a short patch of wet sand.  The synchronized all-wheel-drive provided considerable comfort and piece of mind as we checked out some of the potential candidates for a good story.

We heard one of the men working on the old boat say hello in a friendly, southern tone and we waved back.  Folks here are welcoming and I think enjoy others visiting their little town.  They probably wandered what we were doing though.

39318619240_80b976cb8f_oA storm system had been traveling through southern Georgia and north Florida so the area had been drenched a bit.

I thought there must be a nice restaurant where the locals go and we drove around a few minutes.

IMG_4601What do you know, we found it – Skippers Fish Camp.  It was located off the main highway (U.S. 17, Altamaha Scenic Highway) and nestled on the waterway facing the marshes.

 

Well, naturally we had to try it and were not disappointed.  It caters to locals and regional customers as well.   I really enjoyed it.  IMG_4607The fish was delicious and the green beans were just like I like them.  The atmosphere was clean and inviting, along with the great hospitality.   http://www.skippersfishcamp.com/

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The outside of the restaurant was just as inviting and promotes a nice fish town ambience.IMG_4603IMG_4612IMG_4604

 

 

While leaving the restaurant we noticed an old building with surrounding coquina walls.  Now! We just found something else that was unique, or what I call a “nugget” of interest in my adventures.26485424317_9bf0b85fdf_o

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Tabby walls?  According to https://www.tabbyruins.com/blog/darien-tabby-walls-and-adam-strain-building the tabby walls in Darien are the “remnants of the town’s cotton exchange warehouses and naval stores built in 1815-1830. The Adam-Strain Building, built circa 1813, was a mercantile store and ship IMG_4622chandlery.”

Wikipedia identified tabby as a “type of concrete made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells.

 

Tabby was used by early Spanish settlers in present-day North Carolina and Florida, then by English colonists primarily in coastal South Carolina and Georgia.” I wonder who thought of that method first?  I guess through experimentation.

Near the fishing boats is street art reflecting some of the local emphasis as well.

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IMG_4615Darien is listed as the second oldest planned city in Georgia.  According to town documents, it is the place where the term “Golden Isles” was coined and “offers a wealth of attractions that, for many, are being discovered for the first time.”  Darien is described by experts as “one of the most important tidal estuarine environments in the world.”  http://www.cityofdarienga.comIMG_4618

 

 

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Churches and houses have a certain flair that depict the peaceful, historical community.

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As we departed from Darien heading south along the scenic highway, just over the Altamaha River, we then noticed remnants of an old plantation – the Butler Island Plantation.

We didn’t take time to explore this area but I’ll post about plantations in the future.

This plantation is no longer maintained like some of the others.  You’ll notice on the 39612708350_7a02f383b3_ohistorical placard that Fannie Kemble wrote her “Journal of Residence on a Georgia Plantation” at this plantation.  It is believed to have influenced England against the Confederacy.

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There is another thing that seems to surface in all my travels – the influence of so many countries around the world toward American history and culture.  Although some of these influences involved conflict and bad times, they are part of history and make a lasting impact toward the United States of America.  Let’s consider these impacts toward continuing to improve life here and abroad.  We must learn from history and hopefully will not repeat it – and enjoy the small town nuggets along the way.

-Ron-

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Sweet Maple Tooth

30289318165_0dd287b153_oOne of my intriguing visits in the New England, U.S.A. area involved sweets – maple sweets that is.  These are some of the best tasting and healthiest sweets I could find while checking out the various farms throughout Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

30203880841_afbd5ceca5_oOne of my favorite farms is the Ioka Valley Farm at Hancock, Massachusetts, located in the southeast west part of this beautiful New England state.

The farm’s 2018 maple season activities began February 10 and they will be closing their activities by mid-April.  During my previous visit I became interested in how the maple syrup was heated and processed, and certainly had to taste the various maple treats.

30289312865_aa5bf4e30e_oMiss Terri, who is a healthy, vibrant, late-70s young adult was knowledgeable and very enlightening.  She was the perfect ambassador.  She even mentioned how she would ride miles every day on her bicycle and stop along the way to sip her maple drink for added energy.  She reiterated that the maple sugar provides an excellent energy boost that is balanced and doesn’t create a sugar rush that we sometimes experience with other sweets.

Ioka Valley Farm (http://www.iokavalleyfarm.com/) is a diversified family-owned and operated working farm that prides itself in providing “high quality, locally grown products for all ages.”  They provide natural, hormone-free beef and various other products.  One of the specialties I focused on was the maple syrup and candies.  I couldn’t resist!  Although the maple sap gathering is for a short season they sell the products year-round. Thank also don’t want to over-tap the trees.

30203867631_0f67c80c5f_oOne of the sugarmakers provided some insight about the syrup.  Interestingly, the tank receives the sap from the hundreds of trees in the small mountain behind the farm. It flows through the tubes into an initial processing unit and then flows in the heating tank.  I still don’t fully understand the science behind the process but I was intrigued.

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The farm had recently purchased a larger tank to heat and process the sap due to higher demand.  The larger tank provides much more production over the smaller, older one, enabling significantly more syrup to be processed and distributed during the short season.

30203871761_669e3e9a30_oFinal processing into varied products, packaging and shipping is accomplished right in the shop next to the processing equipment.  The small store is connected to the plant as well.

I enjoyed our little visit to the Ioka Valley Farm.  I wish I could have bought a sampling of each product.

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Maple leaf glass jar with quality maple syrup. (Courtesy photo of Oika Valley Farm)

I did not realize the types of syrup neither – like the amber and dark.  I couldn’t decide which one I liked best after sampling them.  I think the amber is the best for me though.  It sure does sweeten the pancakes or waffles.  And, have you tried maple cream on your toast?  Yummy!

 

Deep Mountain Maple informs us that maple syrup color relates to its grade.  If the syrup is dark then it has a stronger flavor.  There are four main grades in Vermont – from light to dark:  Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber and Grade B. I tasted the four grades and they are distinguishable, although they are produced by the same process.

According to http://deepmountainmaple.com/maple-facts-and-fictions maple syrup is made by boiling the thin, slightly sweet sap of the sugar maple tree in large, shallow pans over a very hot fire.  It flows like water from the tapped trees.  After the sap is boiled until most of the water has evaporated, the remain product is a concentrated or “reduced” syrup.  “As much as 40-45 gallons of sap are needed to produce one gallon of syrup,” stated the Deep Mountain Maple website.

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Sprague & Son Sugarhouse in Vermont

I’m sure there are similar farms and maple producing plants around-the-world but this was my first experience with visiting one of the farms.  What are your experiences?

 

#maplesweettooth

#makesyrup

#iokavalleyfarm

 

Spring forth with new life

Light
Light enters darkness and brings new life and color to the existing, brightening the environment.

When we discuss spring and how the earth seems to regenerate, I think there are applications to our physical, mental and spiritual lives as well.

Why not look at our natural surroundings and compare?

11964881945_f704f38569_oWhen winter arrives it typically demonstrates that fall preceded it resulting in the natural environment becoming dormant.  Leaves dry and fall, and nourish the earth.  Trees, vegetation and even wildlife itself practically draws within.  There is a lull of life, so it seems. And we’re lonely.  3704457713_01276f235b_o

4366528480_6c6fae3345_oThen NEW LIFE springs forth with all its vibrant colors and freshness.  It’s like that which was dead is now alive.  I for one am appreciative of the NEW LIFE – physically, mentally and spiritually; and have embraced it.

12060616073_4498f18aaf_oEven our bodies want to regenerate physically.  We’ve been somewhat sedentary for a season.  They may become more hesitant to move quickly again, or maybe they lost some of the pizazz and strength.3732243545_408c1b1463_o

This slow-down of our lives and the environment around us no doubt can affect our mental being as well.  We ponder on the gloom and cold too much without thinking ahead of the vibrancy of spring.  We need new growth and recovery with our own physical and mental lives.

Pondering on the past spring of life and the dormancy stage of our lives can and will affect our mental picture of life itself.  Let’s think again of the spring of our lives and regenerate to even a new way of thinking.

21647070302_b09086a14d_oWell, how about the spiritual as well?  Maybe we have never given it much thought.  Maybe we have thought about it before and discounted it.  Maybe we recall a time when we were spiritual and then our progress slowed.  Or maybe we feel disappointed in our lack of spiritual regeneration or growth, or someone has let us down.

Part of Wikipedia’s definition of “spiritual” mentions that it traditionally refers to a religious process of reformation which “aims to recover the original shape of man, oriented at ‘the image of God’ as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world.”

3732241853_c69ba6c6dc_oIt seems that all of humankind is in search of something or someone to help regenerate us – to shape us – toward our destiny or calling of life.

While there are beliefs around the world so varied as practically the sand on the seashore we still search.12021324103_7eec8e83ef_o

Life is too short to not enjoy it, right?  Doesn’t God want us to enjoy our lives and the creation He has established around us?  I know there are many who are searching and many who do not consider an absolute or higher being.  That’s each person’s decision and he or she has the right to individual beliefs.

3737384434_fe0d0db0c2_oIs it befitting though that the Christian Easter season coincides with spring?  Easter represents NEW LIFE as recorded in New Testament recordings.3736593171_7da4a7fb6f_o

 

 

 

Google’s definition of Easter identifies this special time as “the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and held (in the Western Church) between March 21 and April 25, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox.”

Compare Google’s definition of Easter to Wikipedia’s definition that modern spirituality is centered on the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Expansion of this definition states: “It embraces the idea of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality. It envisions an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being.”

3919910882_ab090a07f2_oThe word “resurrection” is referenced in Wikipedia as the “concept of coming back to life after death. In a number of ancient religions, a dying-and-rising god is a deity which dies and resurrects. The death and resurrection of Jesus, an example of resurrection, is the central focus of Christianity.”

There are numerous accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Christian’s New Testament.  I like how Luke, one of Jesus’ disciples, documented the resurrection of Christ.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”8 Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24 (New International Version)

While Jesus lived here on Earth his ministry was about LOVE and PEACE through God.  He talked about drawing all people through Him to God.  He talked about providing abundant life to all who believed and trust in Him.

The butterfly reminds me of the old life and how it served a purpose, created as a caterpillar.  It then died to self  for a higher purpose.  This too reminds me of a transformation in life.

 

So, is it worth the opportunity to leave the dead and dread of winter in our lives to spring forth into hope as Jesus Christ mentioned?  He talked about providing abundant life, not death.  I think that’s a great sign of hope and spiritual rebirth that will complement our mental and physical regeneration as well.

As our external environment springs forth we have a choice to allow or disallow the internal being to spring forth also.  I’m sure happy with my choice and feel that I’m experiencing abundant LIFE today.

Let’s spring forth with color and brightness with new life to help the world wherein we are placed.  Besides, our season is too short to not live life abundantly here before moving on.

3705265370_b525b4366f_o(Photos by Linda and Ron Tittle)

Do YOUR buds indicate spring has arrived?

 

I know we’ve been ready for, and have been commenting on spring being here, right?   Many have noted spring arrived with snow still on the ground.

While traveling through some of southern Georgia, U.S.A. this week, particularly along the scenic highways around Clyattville, we had the feeling that spring is truly here with warmer temperatures, ranging near 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  I think that’s a welcome for those who desire to visit the southeastern U.S.

While observing much of the area’s natural decor has developed leaves and buds, I noticed the pecan trees without their buds. So, what does that signify?

Yes, we may have warmer weather and spring has sprung but maybe there is some cooler weather still on the way.

There is an old saying that winter isn’t over until the pecan trees bud.  I did a little research to found out how true; however, I didn’t locate any specifics.

I did gather information that indicates pecan trees are some of the latest to bud as they must build up “chill units.”

In my simple interpretation, chill units relate to how many cold encounters the tree has. Apparently, each tree variant has different chill units.  Once that tree has a certain number of cold encounters and begins to experience warmer temperatures then the leaves and buds begin to appear.

Pecan trees ready for buds

Wow, that’s pretty cool.  While other trees may have the desire to bloom when spring is nearing or has arrived, regardless if there is cold weather still to come, the pecan tree waits a little longer until it senses the threat of cold weather has passed.

There have been times however when the pecan trees were not as accurate, but it seems they are mostly accurate.

For more information on the pecan tree’s preparation for warm weather check the University of Georgia’s blog page at https://site.extension.uga.edu/pecan/2017/02/warm-winter-and-pecans/.

I believe the trees will be budding soon so go ahead and plan your travels through the southeastern U.S. and not be concerned with “cold” weather.

But what about other locations outside the U.S.A.?  Do you have pecan trees or some other types of trees that signal the end of cold weather?

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Other information about pecans:

History of the Pecan and Georgia Pecans (according to Pearson Farm). https://www.pearsonfarm.com/blog/history-of-the-pecan-and-georgia-pecans/

Pecans, although one of the most recently domesticated major crops has been an important part of southern U.S. diet and culture since before the arrival of European settlers. Fur traders originally brought the pecan to the U.S. Atlantic Coast from Illinois, calling them “Illinois nuts.”  The term pecan was coined by the Algonquin Indians, a North American tribe located in the southwest. It originated from their word “pacane”, which means a nut that needs to be cracked with a stone.

Georgia Pecans – Although pecans are highly favored in Georgia today, Georgia farmers were somewhat hesitant in accepting the benefits of this nut at first. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that several individual Georgia landowners began producing and marketing pecans on a small scale. In Savannah, there was about ninety-seven total acres by 1889.

By the 1950s, Georgia had become the country’s leading producer of pecans and remains the largest pecan-producing state in the nation to date.  Georgia pecan trees are one of the largest fruit-bearing trees with just one acre of pecan trees producing about 1,000 pounds of pecans. Today, more than 500 varieties of pecans exist with over 1,000 cultivars being released over the history of pecan culture.

The United States produces 80% of the world’s pecans (according to Tropical Foods) https://www.tropicalfoods.com/blog/pecan-tree-facts/

It takes 12 years for a pecan tree to mature. When grown in ideal conditions, it can live and stay productive for over 200 years.

Pecan wood is often utilized for the manufacturing of furniture, paneling and flooring.

The city of Albany, Georgia boasts of having more than 600,000 pecan trees, earning it the title of “Pecan Capital of the U.S.”

Pecans are related to walnuts but are much sweeter in flavor. Because of their oily composition though, pecans can become rancid very quickly in warm temperatures and high humidity. Shelled pecans are best kept inside a glass container in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.

The fats found in pecans are classified as monounsaturated and are recommended for the maintenance of a healthy heart. The nuts are also rich in Vitamin E and the mineral zinc. Pecans actually provide nearly 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for zinc and one ounce of pecans provides 10% of the recommended daily fiber intake.

Pecans are so popular in Texas that the pecan tree was declared its state tree in 1919. Butter pecan, a popular ice cream flavor, is a Texas invention.

Pecan trees usually range in height from 70 to 100 feet, but some trees grow as tall as 150 feet or higher. Native pecan trees – those over 150 years old – have trunks more than three feet in diameter.

Before a shelled pecan is ready to be sold, it must first be cleaned, sized, sterilized, cracked and finally, shelled.

The name “pecan” is a Native American word that was used to describe nuts requiring a stone to crack.

About 78 pecans are used in the average pecan pie.

#endofwinter

#pecantreebuds

#springhassprung

 

Who is responsible for traffic safety?

Pedestrian crossing between traffic (2)
                                                                  Person walking across multiple lanes of busy traffic.  Why didn’t she use the crosswalk and push the button?

Pedestrians cross busy corridors regularly every day without thought of their safety and thinking EVERY driver will see them.

What is needed? Will autonomous (self-driving) vehicles be the answer? But, how would a pedestrian or cyclist know if the vehicle is autonomous or being driven by a human? What will it take for individuals being responsible for their own traffic safety?

 

It is so easy to cast fault to others. Every day I drive I see someone walking or biking in between traffic, even when they are within 20 feet of a marked crosswalk. I just don’t understand this scenario, especially in major corridors with many moving parts and distractions. I believe we are almost facing an epidemic of non-attention in traffic safety.

My heart goes out to those impacted by traffic crashes,whether they are at fault or not. The fact is, someone died or was injured. That impacts everyone involved.

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Can and will these situations be prevented? I propose the ongoing achievements for autonomous vehicles will help curtail crashes but can we rely on technology alone?

Just recently a tragic death occurred where a self-driving vehicle apparently did not “see” a pedestrian in time to stop. As I looked at the video clip my first thought was I couldn’t see the person neither since it was night and the person was wearing dark clothing. If I was driving the vehicle myself I’m not sure I could have stopped in time.

If we combine current technology with our increased traffic awareness I’m confident we can help save lives. I think it will take years though for fully-autonomous vehicles to adapt to practically every scenario. Even then, if a pedestrian or cyclist doesn’t take necessary precautions – such as using roadway safety designs, wearing bright clothes, using proper lighting – can we really say that the vehicle is at fault? #pedsafety #autonomousvehicle

Florida Department of Transportation has a website that provides excellent products and information for traffic safety in northeast Florida.  Check it out at http://trafficsafetyteam.org/

With spring arriving there are more people walking and bicycling.  I’m curious concerning laws and how people use the designed road safety features around the world.  I see that human nature is the same.

How observant will we be in the days ahead.  Let’s make a goal of saving one life at a time!  We can!

 

Green comes to town

Green cupcakes (2)Green is the buzz word during this special time of year.  Do you do green in March?

Green just happens to be my favorite color but what is significant with it?

According to Color-Meanings the color green symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. “Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety. Dark green is also commonly associated with money. Green has great healing power. It is the most restful color for the human eye; it can improve vision”.  www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html

Many analysts mention the color green is one of the most encouraging and uplifting colors, giving hope more than any other color.

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Do you have a preferred shade of green?

So, is there any wonder the color emphasis this weekend is green – specifically referencing the St. Patrick’s Day emphasis?

I know practically anywhere you travel in the U.S.A on March 17 you will have your fill of green.  Just embrace it.

According to CNN the green shamrock is a “symbol of Ireland — known as the Emerald Isle because of its lush vegetation. And traditional Irish legend held that wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns. Regardless of the reason, the world unites around the color green on StPatrick’s Day.”  https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/16/world/green-landmarks-saint-patricks-day-trnd/index.html

Well, what about some of the origin?  If you check out Wikipedia you’ll  learn that green is associated with Ireland from the 1640s when the green harp flag was used by the Irish Catholic Confederation.  “Green ribbons and shamrocks have been work on St. Patrick’s Day since at least the 1680s.”

So let’s get on the bandwagon and celebrate – although we should do it responsibly.  There are already too many people dying on our roadways.  Please don’t let this happen to you, a loved one or a friend.

If you travel in the southeastern part of the U.S. – particularly near Savannah, Georgia, you may want to check out their events for St. Patrick’s Day – packed with parties, special events and a parade.  You may want to wear at least “something” green.  Activities may be viewed at http://www.savannah.com/st-patricks-day-events-savannah/st-patricks-day-festival.

Savannah’s parade information may be viewed at http://www.savannah.com/st-patricks-day-events-savannah/savannahs-st-patricks-day-parade.  Oh, by the way, in case you want to follow tradition and “kiss” a military person in uniform the local authorities say stop.  I wonder how many will adhere to this latest challenge.Savannah.gov green shamrocks

Now I’m curious.

Do other countries, aside from Ireland, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like we do in the U.S.A.?

Green cupcakes.jpgWhat experiences have you had celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Will you go green also?  I will.

I don’t want a Leprechaun to sneak up from behind and pinch me.