Monday, April 25, 2011

The Baptisms

Week before last we held a Baptism at Douglas Mill Baptist Church. It was the first Baptism to which I've been witness since returning to my home Church. Actually, just walking in the front door door is forever a source of amazement to me. It is so very different from the Church of my childhood that it boggles my mind.

I spent every summer with my Grandparents, Dwight and Nancy Douglas, from a small child into my teens. I was a Summer Baptist, you understand. A Catholic girl when at home with my parents, a Baptist girl when with the elders during the summertime. The Douglas Mill of my childhood had broad planked wooden floors and hard backed pews, burned oil in a big old oil burner for warmth in winter and wooden window sticks for air conditioning to cool you in the summer...oh and those wonderful Miller Rivers Funeral Home fans on a stick for constant movement of said air. The pulpit was a simple wooden stand to hold Preacher Entzminger or Preacher Giffen's Bible, a simple wooden chair to rest in during singing. We had Deacons but they took up the offering and as far as I can remember never sat either side of the Preacher during the Sermon.

So, last Sunday I was witness to a Baptism that took place in the Baptismal water that is directly behind the Pulpit. Preacher Wayne had accepted that Harley and Will knew their hearts and had accepted Christ as their Savior and proceeded to make their knowledge Word. I watched them along with other family members as these two young people made their way into the water and Preacher Wayne took care of the rest. I couldn't help but remember the days when Baptisms only took place in late Spring and Summer. The entire congregation would walk down to Douglas Mill Pond and the Preacher would take the person down into the pond water to baptize them. In my mind I see them dressed in white sheets, but I'm sure it was Baptismal robes only worn for this special occasion. I can hear the singing as we walked down to the pond, the voices rising with pure joy as we went, I AM A POOR WAYFARING STRANGER.... listen to Trace Adkins bring it home...

So, now in our little church by the roadside (where everyone is someone) we have stained glass in the place of plain window glass, the carpet is appropriately red, the pews offer comfort rather than rigidity and the Pulpit is still plain but oddly lovely. There are three chairs behind the Pulpit, one for the Preacher and one each for the Deacons, though I've never seen a Deacon sit there. We have central air and heat and no longer can you raise a window to get a breeze. But that's okay, there are ceiling fans to keep that air moving. But still, I missed my little Miller Rivers Funeral Home fan of long ago. My grandparents and Uncle Gary and Aunt Edith (Douglas) would be so pleased to see the changes that a constant congregational offering has wrought. It's such a lovely little Church that anyone would be happy to attend the Services. But I can still see the original rough draft and can smell the honeysuckle scent that came through the upraised windows, held open with simple wooden sticks. I can see my grandmother on the second pew, fanning a grandbaby with that little fan. I can feel the texture of the religious tracts she kept in her Bible, the ones we would read when the Preacher's sermon became to long and complicated to keep our attention. My favorite was always the one about the man who wept because he had no shoes till he saw the man who had no feet. Yes, our little Church is lovely, but my memories of how she was are precious to me. Nostalgia causes lumps in throats and hitches in hearts. I wouldn't trade the way Douglas Mill Baptist Church is today for that church of long ago, but the memories, I wouldn't take a million dollars for a one of them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daddy and the Lady Banks Rose

We moved back to Chesterfield County in 1989 after Mac retired from the Navy. I had told him that since I had followed him all over the world for so many years, it was time for him to follow me, and that I was going to Chesterfield. Like any sensible man, he followed. My parents were happy that we were settling nearby and that they would get to be closer to their grandsons.

Mama, who was a master gardener in all but degree, was eager to share her plant knowledge with Mac and me. She took us all over their massive yard pointing out the beds of roses, the scattering of daffodils in the woods and in particular the Lady Banks Rose that was growing up the side of the garage. She had planted it as a stripling about 12 inches high and had pampered it and babied it for six years. Now in January, she was anxious to show us how she had placed brackets on the garage to secure it to so that it was 15 or so feet up and then swagging down. She told us the blooms this year would be spectacular and it would occur around Easter. I shared in her excitement and everytime I went to visit was greeted by the site of the bare limbed Lady Banks. I would go over and examine it for signs of first leaf.

Okay, now Daddy had a pair of loppers that he used to trim the trees to keep their branches from assaulting him when he was riding the mower or driving the car down the drive. He loved those loppers. They weren't much to look at as loppers go, but they were kept lovingly oiled and ready for action on a hook on the wall inside the garage.

Weekends starting in early spring were dedicated to neatening up flower beds, opening garden plots out back for the veggies that Mama grew with pride and aplomb and general yard work and weeding was carried out. Our younger son Michael enjoyed spending weekends at his "sweet little Grandma's". He didn't mind helping out there, though I couldn't get him to turn his hand in the yard at home. I would go to pick him up and take the chance to admire the Lady Banks and ooh and ahh over the new leaves it was putting on. It really was going to be glorious this year, I could tell. So one warm Saturday morning, I took Michael to spend the day at Grandma's. Daddy was out and about, no suit and tie but dressed in his yard work gear, a well worn pair of khaki shorts an old plaid shirt and faded green hat on his head. Oh, and loppers in hand. He had trimmed the magnolia tree limbs and was clearing the circle of dead branches and weeds that Mama and the kids had pulled. He waved at me as I dropped Michael off. I glanced at the beauty of the Lady Banks and dreamed of having one like it one day.

So it's about 4:30 that afternoon when the phone rings. On the other end, Michael is breathless with something akin to fear. "Mom, you've got to come here quick, Grandma is going to kill Grandpa!"

Okay, now having heard Mama threaten to kill Daddy at least 100 times a year for most of my life, I'm not getting so excited over this piece of news. Stifling a yawn, I ask him casually "so, what did Grandpa do this time?" A tremble

was in voice, he couldn't hide it. "He lopped off Grandma's Lady Banks." I sat straight up, rigid with anger of my own.

"Go tell Grandma to hold on I'm on my way."

"So you're gonna stop her?" he wanted to know.

"Oh no, I'm going to help her!" I told him, a deadly calm in my voice. I heard him yelling "run Grandpa run!"

Okay, so we didn't kill him. But Mama took his loppers away. He was not allowed to use them without strict supervision and only when Mama saw the need of them. Funny, but she didn't feel the need of their use for many years after that...
oh and ps:
yes, I do have a Lady Banks Rose, she is 10 feet high and no one but no goes near her with anything sharper than a camera lens.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dudley Cock of the Walk

People who follow my blog all know about my cock eyed Rooster, Dudley. He came to live with us when his former owners' dogs tried to eat him sans dumplings. He showed up in the yard, tail feathers ripped out, one wing injured and just in a very sad way. Except for his voice, that is. His voice was as strong and vibrant as ever it had been. Mac very generously went to the feed store and bought cracked corn for bedraggled rooster, but he preferred to eat cat food with the cats. Yes, you read that correctly. Dudley (as in Dudley Doright) has a fan club of cats and and kittens. We haven't decided if he thinks he's a cat or they think they are roosters, but they get along together very well. The kittens will even cuddle up to him to sleep when Dudley calls his day done.

Dudley's tail feathers have grown in so thick and luscious in irridescent colors of green and purple that I feel sure he has a guardian angel in the late Mr Will Eddins. Mr Will raised some of the most beautiful roosters ever seen. And not for any reason other than the sure joy of their beauty. Our old boy never leaves the place, he's cock of the walk and sings all day long. He greets the sun before the sun even thinks about coming up, he hits the hay before Mr Sun says good night. I put out cat food twice a day and Dudley always races me to the food bowl, he and his favorite kitten, SuzieQ. Yes, he has a favorite kitten. The little black ball of fluff often gets her catnap next to Dudley out in the garden where he has scoouched out a warm nest of dirt. The cats are all very protective of their big odd brother. I've seen them gather around him, circling the wagons as it were, if they felt he might be in danger. I've never seen anything like it before, nor do I expect to see anything like it again. Sometimes I think God scatters little jokes amongst our lives to lighten us up. After all, I can't take anything to seriously as long as Dudley has his flock of cats.