Magic of the Rocks

Thousands of glittering bits of light shone up at me, greeting my eyes with their iridescent appearance and reflection. Not that it was overwhelming – it wasn’t. It was that their lighted reflections were simply amazing. Their appearance was beyond belief and thought. They looked like stars against a sand-grained canopy of heaven – yet, I was looking down, instead of up. And it was daylight, or at least it would be for a couple of more hours before the sun finally set and declared that it was bedtime on my part of the spinning sphere we called Earth.

Light had suddenly torn through the sky in between gray clouds, across the dark green field, and onto the individual facets of mica-speckled gravel that dotted the road next to my house. Unbeknownst to me at the time, those rays of light had traveled for eight minutes through space to get there from the surface of the giant, heavenly orb in order to touch the tiny surfaces of the gravel and bounce up into my eyes. Some would say that the light was going to bounce up anyway – whether I was there to see it or not. But for some reason, I was standing in the right place at the right time. And as a result, I saw some amazing things.

It was well worth the arduous trip to get there – okay, it was really only a short walk from the living room inside the house to the dirt road outside. Still, it seemed like a huge trek since I didn’t want to miss watching some show on TV. Now, I can’t even remember what was on, but I’m sure it seemed extremely important to not miss at the time.

Despite the temptation to be lazy and stay inside, I mustered up some strength (or was told to go out) and left the comfort of the soft, interior of the house. And by doing so, I was richly rewarded. Within those next few minutes, I was allowed to see and enjoy wonderments that still reside in my memories, today.

Hundreds of rocks lined the road. Sure, I had seen most of the same ones multiple times before, over the years and earlier that same week. But this time, the rocks stood out as a momentary glance into the inner workings of the brilliance that goes on all the time in the background, yet typically remains unseen by eyes unaware.

A slight breeze blew through right then, too. It was just enough moving air to push tiny, leftover bits of water around on the thousands of facets that were causing the push of radiance from the ground up toward my face.

The gray clouds – that the sunlight was passing through – were the same ones that had just filled the sky and dumped buckets of rain in only a few minutes. Now, they were clearing out – blowing on to other parts East – to wet more fields and roads there and to wash the dirt from other rocks, so the sun could dance across those tiny mirrors and reflect up into other little boys’ eyes, as well.

Kneeling down onto the wet dirt road, I absorbed the sights that surrounded me. The sheer volume of reflecting light rays was overwhelming, yet glorious at the same time. I picked up a couple of the wet rocks and rolled them around in my small palm. With each movement side-to-side and back-and-forth, they convinced me that I now held some incredible form of magic.

All up and down the road, there lay before my eyes an abundance of shimmering, changing particles of light – bouncing here and there, as I walked excitedly. I soon learned that they would disappear and reappear with each drying out and subsequent rewetting. In the future, I anticipated the coming and going of each rainstorm, knowing that the magic of the rocks would return.

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This was adapted from one of my upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep

 

Summer Song

The things of the summer song are all caught up in the views from under the tree in the front yard on a July Sunday afternoon. Rocking chairs and table chairs and makeshift benches all brought out in the yard to join up with the official kind of chairs that most people used as their outdoor furniture. The gray hues of the distance disappear and fade into the surroundings that make the Sunday afternoon complete.

Underneath the giant maple tree that turns bright red in the fall, we sit there in the summer and look out around. Shade covers our faces – thank goodness – ‘cause it’s hot. The afternoon ease of temp hasn’t quite gotten there yet, and the mighty grip of heat of midday was still holding fast around our necks and heads, weighing us down as we attempted to play an uneven, lopsided game of two-hand touch football out in Mamaw’s side yard, earlier.

Sitting on the grass again, back under the big tree in the front yard, we catch our breath and take in everything around us. Over to the left is a good-sized garden that she has planted and harvested from for years. Along the edge of the vegetable garden is a row of day lilies that form a border to keep us grandkids out and to give it an outline, some texture – if you will.

That’s one thing that I noticed over the years: she always did things with a bit of outline and texture. That was her version of flair. Never over the top, but enough that it showed she was not content with living with blandness and plain all of the time. She planted flowers, tended fruit trees, and planted flowering bushes all around her house so that it was not only colorful, but that it was beautiful, as well. She had a knack for arranging those amazing things right outside her window in such a way that they were nice to look at. As a result, we all enjoyed them with her.

At the corner of the garden where the yard passed in front of the house and over to the woodshed, there stood the mighty bell. It was rusted now, but it still worked. …and we would still get switched with a hickory if we dared ring it without dire need or cause.

Why? Because it was more than just an old bell. It was the summoning bell: the bell that called farmhands and children to lunch; the bell that called for everyone to “come a’runnin’” (to drop everything they were doing and get to the house as fast as possible); the bell that connected house and home to fields and pastures. For decades, it was the sole form of long distance communication that could reach from one part of our farm to the other. The mighty bell.

Now, though, it stood perched and somewhat slumped over at the top of a fading, aging cedar pole. The reddish brown rust sat there on the bell in contrast and arrogance against the meaning of the bell itself. Yet in some ways, it seemed to belong as a natural part of the aging process and the passing along of time in conjunction with the seasons it had stood through.
Though I couldn’t see it happening or even understand how it was occurring at the time, the rust was oxidizing the metal of the bell and converting it from young to old. Years were passing inside of the very composition of the bell, and I didn’t even know it. That bell seemed to speak to me in some sort of non-understandable ways. Yet, I do understand because I can still see it as perfectly now as I did back then.

The mount – the cedar pole – was as much a part of the sounding device as the rusted bell was. Both worked together to do their job. The pole had to be cedar because only that type would last through the years and stand the test of time.

Ropes that were connected to the bell and hung down alongside the peeling, hairy cedar bark came and went. They never lasted more than a year or so before they broke or snapped. That was to be expected after the first few times it happened. But not the bell. Not the pole.

They would continue to stand there and look back at me as I took in the summer song.

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Yellow Asunder (poetry)

A hint of yellow
Fills the fields
Washing all asunder

It stands to tell
The world of beauty
In voice of muted thunder.

It soothes the parchness
Of my soul
And brings a welcomed smile

Instead of walking
On and past,
I think I’ll stay a while

Softened hues
Go on forever
Casting here and there

Their beauty, although
Earthen-bound,
From soil into the air

This is why
I breathe the air
This is why I feel

To sense the glory
Of the stars
Around and in me, still.

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Learn Another Language!

This week at work, a couple of friends and I were talking about some of the different websites that are out there now that help you learn other languages.

It’s amazing how many sites there are and how many of them are interactive. If you’re interested in learning another language, here’s a list that may help you:

Language Learning Sites:

Language Agencies:

Articles:

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You can email me at martyjreep (at) yahoo.com.  This article was adapted from one of my upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep

Writing Songs In 15

When we were little, my sister, brother, and I would challenge each other to adapt a song on the radio or make up a new one within 10-15 minutes.  The catch was you had to be able to sing it back before time was up.

“Song time! You’re IT!”  Whoever was “IT” would ask, “Okay, what do you want this one to be? Fast and happy? Or slow and sad?”  We would fire back responses at each other: “Tell a story; but you have to use names of random objects around you; also has to rhyme.”  “Ok. Challenge accepted.”

Then all of us would go back to doing what we were doing while “IT” was making up the song.  This would be done while we were hoeing the garden, milking cows, feeding calves, baling hay, or any of the other things we regularly did.

At the end of 15 minutes, somebody would yell, “Time’s up!” and “IT” would perform.  Usually though, the impromptu songwriter would be done in just a few minutes and start singing on his/her own.

The other two would listen for tune, rhythm, rhyming lines, and whether the song met all of the other requested conditions.  If it was bad, we would “boo” the singer and have them re-do it.  If it was good, we would pretend we were the audience in a giant concert hall and applaud like there was no tomorrow.

When we were in the barn milking with the radio on or at home in our room with the stereo, my brother would always say, “If you’re gonna sing along, sound like the song!”  So, if it was a new record or cassette, we would listen to the song with our eyes shut one time, the whole way through.  Then we would sing it back, sounding just like song.  After that, we were allowed to sing out loud anytime the song was on.

Part of our ability to “write” all sorts of songs was because of the old, beige radio in the barn.  It was always on to help hide the monotonous sound of the generator outside and to help kill the boredom of milking time.  Whoever was in charge of milking on any given day determined the flavor of music we listened to for the whole two hours.

If Clifford was in charge, the Country sounds of Hank, Merle, Dolly, Waylon, and Loretta filled the air.  We learned the songs and sang along (on pitch!).

If Bob was in charge, the R&B and Soul sounds of The Temptations, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Kool & The Gang, Four Tops, and Marvin Gaye filled the air.  We learned those, too, and sang along.

If Daddy was in charge of milking, the radio station altered between old-timey gospel and Prairie Home Companion (I think that’s part of where our storytelling side came from).  Again, we learned the tunes and the words, otherwise it would have been a very boring two-hour stint in the barn.

When Kelly was in charge, it was AC/DC, Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foreigner, The Beatles, Boston, and Molly Hatchet full-on.  Those we knew the best because it was what we listened to the most, outside of the barn.

As we got older and our inventory of “music heard” increased, our ability to write songs improved.  We could think up lyrics on the fly, change them to rhyme, or add in a word that one of us (usually Kelly) would randomly throw out, to keep us on our toes.

While we were kids, we shared our “secret” with a few people over the years, but ironically it was met with fizzle.  We were repeatedly told there was no money in show business.  That always seemed a bit strange since we constantly heard new songs on the radio and watched movies on TV… hmmm.  So, we kept our little gift to ourselves and only wrote songs when the two or three of us were alone together at home or out working together.

However, over the years, Janet has been asked to sing a number of times at weddings, funerals, and in church services.  She’s even laid down some tracks in the studio.  I’ve quietly written 40 – 50 songs and have been looking for ways to “get them out there.”  Kelly’s ears and eyes of accuracy are still as sharp as ever.

Recently though, our secret came out. Somebody at work played an instrumental tune he recorded.  Without thinking about it, I started singing along, making up lyrics on the fly.  He stopped the track and asked, “What’s that?”  I said, “Oh, sorry. It just…sort of came out.”  He said, “No man, that was great!  Was that just a fluke, or could you do that for some other tunes, too?”  I grinned and answered, “Yeah, sure.  Let’s hear ‘em.”

So, there you have it.  If you’d like a song written for a tune you have, let us know.  My siblings and I will take our time and make it sound nice.  Or if you’d like to test us, we’ll write you one in 15 minutes.  ‘Cause we can still do that, too!

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You can email me at martyjreep (at) yahoo.com.  This article was adapted from one of my upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep

In the Valleys

Green are the valleys
That spread out before me
Filling my eyes with the glory
From above

They speak the truth
Of the peace and anguish
That have comingled there
Since the beginning of time

Their verdant sides
And fruitful floors
Fill my eyes
With wonder

And cause me to pause in thought
Wondering why is there such a mixture
Of the good and the bad,
And why doesn’t one just crush the other?

But they don’t.
They co-exist as if in some diabolical mixture from hell
That caresses the beautiful locks of heaven
And gives wait ’til it lays its head down for sleep.

And…the side from heaven that shows itself in the valleys
Likewise wait for hell’s caresses to end
So it can cut off the fingers
And end their meddling.

All that – I see
When I look upon the beauty
Of the valleys
Below.

All that –
Waits to be recognized in the eyes
And catapulted into the minds
Of the viewers and occupants there below.

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Excerpted from one of Reep’s upcoming books. 
For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep

Sanctuary of the Woods

Way down in the woods, we’d play every afternoon til it started getting dark. Then, we’d work our way back up through the trees and out into the clearing that formed the top part of the hill behind the hay barn and the metal calf barn that was painted white. Out on top of the hill, the evening light shone all around and lit up everything like it was a dying fire. Reds and oranges and yellows all leapt and jumped around with the changing of the shadows, as the sun set farther and farther into the horizon in the west.

But before all of that, we were in the woods. That’s where the most glorious music was played, the most pungent and wonderful smells were produced, and where the most intricate of interlacing details could be seen wherever we walked or stood. Ants crawled all over the ground and exposed themselves here and there in the form of a red clay hill to signify they had made a huge undertaking underground. “Hill” was a relative term compared to the towering pine trees and oak trees in the immediate vicinity. However, to the ants, their hills were gigantic.

The creek constantly gave off its melody that wound up being the background tune for the rest of the woods. As the stream of water walked across the rocks and sand underneath, it splashed and dashed, adding to its travels an occasional brushing up next to the tall grass that grew along the creek bank. Dragonflies, water bugs, and butterflies flitted around in search of their own particles to eat and enjoy. Their color added flavor to the eyes along the stream of water, as it meandered its way from the bottom land of the pasture and into the area we claimed as our sanctuary – the woods.

God had given us those woods in order to show us that he was still very much in charge, although our home life was hectic at times. Growing up can be challenging for anyone at times, and we were no exception.

The peace and solitude of the tree-covered area was our home for a few hours each day, enough that it gave us respite from the craziness. When we entered the woods and the tall grass surrounding the creek, we knew we were safe. Sure there were lots of critters around, but we knew none of them would hurt us.

How did we know? Birds singing was one of the signs. If the birds were singing, then nothing was around that they were bothered by – and they were always singing, so we were always safe.

Of all the birds in the woods, one of the most amazing ones was the mockingbird. It had the ability to be a one-man-band. It could hear a new bird and after a little practice, it could take the other bird’s voice as its own. At the time, we didn’t understand all of the details – we just knew it sounded beautiful.

The wind joined in on the symphony that God had going on in the woods. As it blew across the tall, green grass and through the dark pine needles in the treetops surrounding us, we could feel the presence of something incredible passing through our midst. It was almost as if the stars and clouds had come down and were invisibly brushing us on our cheeks.

Today, I still love the breeze.

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This article was adapted from one of Reep’s upcoming books.  For ones currently published, go to www.Amazon.com/author/reep