Monthly Archives: March 2023

Coral Condominiums

Amongst zillions of the Lord’s astonishing creations is the coral. I grew up seeing amazing specimens of coral every day. My dad had owned property on Cape Canaveral and had a wonderful seashell collection, including beautiful bleached coral, one big enough to sit on, the other like a solid hard skull. I was intrigued by them and tried to imagine the wild shore Dad described to us.

My dad told us that the coral is built by thousands of tiny creatures working together to build a community. But only recently I began to learn a little more about those miniscule workers. Basically, they are called polyps. They are cylindrical in shape. They have tentacles at their mouth end which seek the algae and ocean junk food they live on. The microscopic algae provide what’s called symbiodinium which the coral needs to form hard skeletons around themselves. They also need calcium carbonate for building their small and sometimes massive condominiums. Those skeletons become beautiful colorful sights. They build into reefs which do their part to protect the ocean’s shorelines as well as making a home and playground for thousands of fish, crus-taceans, etc. That’s not to mention the joy their beauty gives to the adventurous scuba divers and snorkelers.

I’m thankful for the one time I was brave enough to snorkel in warm clear water along the shore of a Bahamian island. I’ll never forget the colorful paradise, coral both hard and feathery and so bright, and fish who seemed quite happy for me to be nosing around in their territory. Those coral were not bleached like my dad’s specimens. They were unbelievably beautiful.

The tiny coral does what it’s made to do, wins no plaques or trophies, just does its job. In doing what it’s supposed to it becomes part of a marvelous plan for survival and beauty, an intricate design by the Lord God whose hands continue to create. He uses these tiny creatures to form communities in the sea, condominiums they seem to me, many little windows open to the ocean view.

May we, too, Lord, fulfill the part you planned for us, bit by bit, day by day.


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A Sweet Afternoon

When Charles was newly graduated from University of Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine we moved from Athens to Cairo, Georgia where he began working for Dr. Eugene Maddox at the Cairo Animal Hospital. Books and lectures, labs and internships do not prepare you entirely for work on the field. He had to learn a lot day by day. As his wife with experience only in journalism, library work, and a secretarial job, I had everything to learn. Some of the lessons were gory, such as the one about a prolapsed uterus. If you’re revolted by gore you might want to skip this reading.

Sometimes when a cow delivers her calf her whole uterus then comes out and it takes a lot of skill and physical stamina to force it back in place. I had heard Charles talk about such a case but seeing one in person was a whole new experience.

The cow patient was down broadside when we arrived. To my horror, Charles got right down with her, wrestling with a huge mass of bloody tissue. The thing was covered with dry caked manure, straw and mud. This picture had never entered my mind as entertainment for a Sunday afternoon. Somehow that bulging balloon the size of a barrel was supposed to fit back inside the poor cow who was bawling and moaning by spells and pulling at the ropes that secured her. After my first wave of nausea (I was heavily pregnant myself!), I felt an overwhelming gratitude for having been born into the human race.

Suddenly Charles was giving me instructions. He said to go home quickly and return with five pounds of sugar. I thought he’d gone crazy in the heat and mud and blood. Sugar? He repeated himself, his voice going sharp with urgency.

Even as I hefted five pounds of sugar out of a cabinet (too bad about the sweet tea tomorrow!) I was still wondering if I’d heard Charles right. What else sounded like sugar?

When I arrived back at the scene, Charles was sitting beside his patient talking jovially to his client just as if there were nothing wrong. I think they were talking about how dangerous it might be to tangle with an alligator when fishing in the Ochlocknee River. When he saw me coming he motioned me to drive right up close and, I thought, received the bag of sugar quite casually. He proceeded to open the bag and pour sugar generously on that poor cow’s insides that were still in a huge heap behind her.

What happened next was a miracle. That ungainly swollen uterus suddenly began shrinking and soon with some vigorous pushing and shoving, it finally popped in place. As he gave the cow her post-natal shots, Charles chatted with the farmer nonstop explaining the wonders of sugar which he normally kept in his practice car.

As we drove away Charles joked with me. “You thought I was teasing about the sugar, didn’t you?”

“I thought you’d gone crazy,” I said.

“How sweet it is!” He grinned giving me a punch in the arm.

I guess some miracles only happen when someone is obedient to a command they do not understand. Such as when servants obeyed Jesus and filled water jugs at the Cana wedding before He turned all that water into wine.


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From Pasture to Park

You could hardly imagine now that a large portion of Southern Terrace Park in Cairo was a pasture only a few years ago. Somehow seeing it now I’m nostalgic but also very glad to see the old place in such healthy pleasurable use. It’s a little like the joy one can receive from making a quilt of favorite fabrics of another year, another time.

Our pasture at various times over the years was populated with young calves, a paralyzed cow, a very mischievous horse, numerous goats and sheep. And a mule. I can’t leave Raleigh out. He was without doubt the stubbornest mule in all kingdom come. Our back fence neighbors at one time owned a pot bellied pig. Our pasture became his escape. The pasture was not big but when chasing down a 20 pound pig it seemed to stretch.

It wasn’t just a pasture. Twenty or so pecan trees dropped their nuts into the grass every year. Many a day we spent on our knees picking up pecans or later picking up nuts with a clever tool. I’d never had pecan trees before and was always thrilled to spy the nuts forming in the trees by the end of summer. We learned certain trees were much more productive but some others had the very best nuts. It was really a letdown when we dragged our laden bags in at the market and learned they would bring so little we might as well take them home and have plenty of pies. Pecan pie was always a favorite dessert and, too, we loved sharing the nuts.

Whether mending fences, building a new one, rounding up sheep for shearing, herding goats up for a round of shots, trying to teach Raleigh to gee-haw, or nursing that paralyzed cow, our family spent a lot of time in that pasture. Some years in the fall we had a bonfire late on an afternoon and sat on hay bales telling stories while we waited for the fire to make good marshmallow roasting coals. Our son remembers helping his Dad on Saturday afternoons hauling limbs while listening to the UGA game on the truck radio. He also remembers shooting at squirrels down in the little woods where an old railroad bed made an interesting shelf. He laughs and says he never actually hit a squirrel, though now he really enjoys deer hunting.

Now the pecan trees are gone. A few oak trees have been saved around the edges for which I’m very glad. The railroad bed has disappeared after much bulldozing. Where there used to be a sluggish swamp during heavy rains and a thick patch of woods now there is a retaining pond. A very nice wide paved walking/biking trail winds all the way around what was our pasture as well as what was already a recreational park. The trail is one mile long and is very nicely situated where many people can enjoy it.

As the park was under development it was very ugly. The trees were toppled, clay clogged roots reaching for the sky. Every time we rode by more work had been done to change the landscape. There was nothing but mud and house-size piles of trees, stumps, and debris. It was no longer the peaceful place for goats and sheep to graze. Far on the other side of all the work I could see our old house and I imagined it saying something like “How could those people go off and leave me to deal with this?” The old barn is still there, too, owned by the couple who bought our house. Two goats graze in a small pasture, remnant of a farm of long ago.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon we took our first walk in the completed park. Even with a rollator I was able to complete the whole mile. There was another family enjoying a Sunday afternoon stroll. The basketball court our son used to play on is renewed and there’s a nice picnic pavilion with bathrooms. In time the city may plant small elm trees in the park. As we walked and paused to take pictures we were happy to see such a good place for families to come and play and exercise. But when I close my eyes I immediately see the old place as it used to be, sheep running to the feed trough, lambs gamboling in the spring, Charles happily mowing.


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