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My Garden Of Life – A Saturday In The South


By Jody Fuller

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com

Last Saturday was a day filled with history, nature, family, love, and laughter—lots of laughter. The cast of characters included Lucy, Emily, Abigail, Mawmaw, Mimi, and me, your humble columnist.

Our day started at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park where it hosted the 204th anniversary of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. According to the National Park Service, the battle ended the Creek War, resulted in a land cession of 23,000,000 acres to the United States and created a national hero of Andrew Jackson.

We had so much fun. I always learn new things at events such as this. I learned that the cannons were painted blue due to French influence. I learned that Sam Houston, who is a distant relative to Lucy, was injured there. And, I learned that Native Americans often enjoyed potato chips and Cokes on the banks of the Tallapoosa.

Lucy had already told me about the cannons, but I had to verify.
The ladies, minus my Mawmaw, that’s my mama, have pledged to volunteer next year as settlers. Mimi is bringing her spinning wheel, Lucy is bringing her bonnet, and Emily is bringing her slime. Apparently, they had it back then. And, I may volunteer, too, as long as I get potato chips and a Coke. A tomahawk would be cool, too. Mama can watch the baby.
Abigail, who is only five months old, did really well. She jumped a few times when the muskets and cannons fired, but then again, so did I. After the first boom, sweet Emily, who is well aware of how loud noises conflict with my combat-related PTSD, let me know when the booms were about to happen. As long as I knew they were coming, I was okay.

Both sides of my family are from the general area. When we were kids, we visited often. Now that I have kids, I plan on doing the same. It’s a fascinating place, right here in our own back yard. Speaking of fascinating, my grandmother used to walk the two-mile trail with us youngsters over the hills and through the woods in heels, not high heels but heels nonetheless. Beth Washburn was a trooper.

Mimi took a lot of photos and took them really, really close. Lucy told her that there was no need to get that close, because they could be cropped. So, why did she get so close? Because she doesn’t know how to crop. That’s pretty darn smart if you ask me. She also knows how to work a spinning wheel.

Mama went back home, and we went back to Mimi’s. As we pulled into the driveway, we decided not to waste such a beautiful day and made an impromptu trip to Smith Mountain, overlooking beautiful Lake Martin. They had never been there, and I had only been to the parking lot.

Thanks to the Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association, our hike could not have been any better. Well, it could have if mama had been with us—next time, I promise.

I didn’t know what to expect. I just thought it was a little hike over the hills and through the woods. I figured I could have done it in heels. While it wasn’t Mount Everest, it was a perfect start for us, as we have long talked about taking up hiking. The trail was short but spectacular. Mimi didn’t make it the entire way, but she made it to a wonderful site, amongst beautiful trees, giant pinecones, big boulders, and a view of the lake.

Lucy thought it was Lake Eufaula. She may know the stories of cannons and their colors, but geography is not her strong suit. In case anyone is wondering, South Virginia is not a state.

Emily was fascinated by the size of the rocks and assumed it took big machines to move those rocks to the top of that mountain. She really enjoyed herself but was worn out by the time we finished. Kids need to get off their phones and out more. At least she left the slime at home.

Abbigail Jennings was strapped to her daddy’s chest in a baby carrier. She was so good, even as we summited the mountain amidst the strong winds. Lucy and Em climbed to the top of the historic fire tower, while Abby and I made it about half way up. It was just too windy for her. The view was breathtaking. You could see forever. I bet on a clear day that you can even see Lake Eufaula.