Thursday, April 22, 2010

Still in Red Bay...

So far I’ve learned some invaluable lessons which I feel compelled to share, mostly as reminders to myself. First, it is better to spend 4 hours cleaning the car after taking the dogs swimming and hiking in the mud. Second, with so many animals underfoot always, ALWAYS look where you step – messes of all shapes, colors and consistencies can appear in the blink of an eye…ice cream can cause such indigestible messes. Third, and perhaps most importantly, check for ticks…even if you can’t bend over and see THAT spot, they can still find it!

We’ve been keeping ourselves quite busy this last week, in addition to the above referenced incidents. We’re still in Red Bay and since they haven’t gotten to our repairs yet, we set out in a new direction everyday exploring with the kids. The Natchez Trace is an incredibly scenic road that used to be a Native American highway (footpath). There are several parks and historic markers all along its path. We walked along Bear Creek and let the kids go swimming and sniff every leaf and bush to their hearts content. We hiked up an ancient mound that was dated back to 4000 B.C.!! It was awe inspiring and as Torben & I took a moment of reflection, we noticed our dog Bela paying her own special respects by leaving a mound of her own – right on top of the original mound! I was mortified! Thank goodness for portable pooper bags.

We ventured up north the other day, just across the Mississippi/Tennessee border to the Shiloh National Battlefield and Cemetery. It was the sight of one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in the Civil War, and the sense of pain and suffering still echoes eerily among the shadows of the hills and the stillness of the trees. The land is beautifully preserved but there is no doubt about the heaviness in the air. We drove/walked the park and learned about the intense two-day battle. Several states have donated massive monuments to the memory of their soldiers. I am proud to say that my own home state of Indiana represented well, as did Ohio and Iowa. My husband was born and raised in old Florida and has a much different outlook on the Civil War than I do. Growing up I learned that the war was fought over slavery, the North won, end of story….or so I thought. My husband is a proud southern gentleman and believes that the South was fighting in opposition to unrepresented taxation and against the federal government mandating state laws. He feels very strongly that this was a war "of northern aggression" and that the North did it’s best to erase the historical significance of the Confederate soldiers. While we have had many discussions and a few disagreements over the issue I have basic concluded that he just needed to get over the issue (135 years later). Regardless of my personal opinion, there is a significant difference in how history has chosen to remember both sides of this war. There were signs placed at various places noting how Union soldiers from this battalion and that company were moved from their initial burial site and placed in the National Cemetery, thus the monuments were only place markers, but still immaculately maintained. This was in stark contrast to the Confederate burial trenches hidden in the woods. The overall size is about the length of my bus and it contains the remains of some 10,000+ Confederate soldiers. The mass graves were poorly maintained and almost forgotten. It saddened me that so many brave men, whatever their motivation, died so heroically and were given such a poor tribute for their efforts. I was able to understand some of Torben’s frustration as I saw how these brave souls are treated with such little respect by our National Park Service. Torben & I had another great discussion about how the victors of war get to determine how history will tell its story. Ok, we’re kind of history nerds, but that kind of stuff is interesting to us.

On a brighter note, tomorrow is our anniversary, five years!! Torben keeps telling everyone it’s the longest he has ever been married – people look at us quizzically until I deliver the punch line – that this is the only time he has ever been or will ever be married. I am sorry to all of our friends who have heard this joke every year, it will undoubtedly remain in his poor joke repertoire for many years to come. Regardless of his sense of humor, I am deeply proud to be his wife and have delighted in our marriage and I have full faith that our future will be equally as loving.

Last, we finally got our TV working (we even have color!) just in time to see the Denver Broncos pick up Tim Tebow in the NFL Draft. I absolutely love Timmy and just became a huge Broncos fans! And thanks to Tommy Swonger and Torben’s Mom for letting us know as well.

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