On parks and land and coded language

Zaimu Challenge
North Georgia is beautiful. I say this grudgingly, as someone who counts Florida's beaches, glorious dawns and scenic sunsets among my favorite things to experience. Born and raised a Georgia Peach, I know Georgia's winters are short, summers long, springs fragrant, and falls gorgeous. It's beautiful here. I also know Georgia was a slave state, and the legacy of slavery is unmistakeable in these here hills. Today's trip to a nearby park was a good reminder of that. While exploring the area for places to write and think, I noticed a plaque. Memorials are always fascinating documents to examine, and even more so in light of actual history and the language used to disguise it. The plaque mentions a "beloved plantation" and notes "cotton was grown," but there's no mention of people being involved in any way. Certainly no mention of slavery or…
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Animals vs. iPhones

Zaimu Challenge
[caption id="attachment_3456" align="alignright" width="225"] Greenway indigo by nicole denise[/caption] I spotted one today! An indigo bunting. I ran for 30 minutes in one direction, and sure enough, on the way back in, I heard one chirping near the 2.5 stretch. Although I wasn't very close, he let me snap one photograph while he stood atop a pine. I tried for video, but it turns out, he wasn't interested in posing. He wasn't alone. I ran another mile and a half, then slowed to watch a brown cottontail stretch in rain-soaked grass, silhouetted by the rising sun. She felt me approach, and distrusting my intentions, scampered out of photo distance. I shook my head, giggling, and continued my journey. After another half mile, I came to a straightway that sometimes doubles as a deer crossing. Sure enough,…
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Indigo Stretch

Zaimu Challenge
My running trail is an enchanted forest. Trees and grasses in various stages of bloom flank the whole path. Today I experienced the first honeysuckle this season. Nose candy. Micro climates and mini ecosystems pulse in the enchanted forest. A chorus of birds on this stretch. A pond of frogs and cicadas on the next. More birds with new songs here. A deer crossing there. A snack bar for bunnies and so on. You experience this all within the first 1.5 miles of the trail. If you're open to the sounds, scents and scenery, you're never bored along the way. [caption id="attachment_3431" align="alignright" width="300"] Indigo Bunting by Dan Vickers[/caption] Months I spent running that stretch, turning around at 2 miles and heading back in. But there's a stretch farther in the distance. I make…
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Spring!?

30 Day Blog Challenge
Is it possible? Has spring finally sprung in Georgia? After many false starts, has winter finally melted away? Flowers and trees have long thought so. Dogwoods are in bloom and a healthy layer of yellow dust has blanketed cars and outdoor furniture. Folks with allergies walk around with puffy pink eyes and hints of congestion interferes with small talk about the weather. Despite these outward signs, the morning 40s have persisted. We'll warm up a bit by late afternoon, only to plummet once the sun goes down. That's someone's definition of spring time, but that's not how we do it in the Deep South. Yet today? There were no April showers! There were no morning 40s! The sun shone beautifully all day as did I in my dress! I'm excited.…
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Start with questions.

Education
So there's a picture making the rounds. And although this particular picture and its provocative caption spawned this entry, what follows is applicable to any picture, meme, article, video and so on. In short, any document. Being literate is one thing, but engaging in critical literacy means reading against the grain. Critical literacy starts with questions rather than reactions. It demands research instead of assumptions. To be critically literate means to ask who published a given document and what do they hope to accomplish by doing so? Who benefits and who doesn't? Critical literacy asks for context. Not simply the text, but what comes with it. It requires active engagement over passive acceptance. The picture in question is connected to education. Math, to be specific. And despite the caption and the…
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Revelations

Personal Narrative
Every Valentine's weekend, the magnificent dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater command center stage at the fabulous Fox. I've gone perhaps once every five years or so since I was a little girl. I don't remember much about my first show other than I was there with my mom and one of her friends, and I was quietly awed about what I'd seen. Since then, each time I've returned, the beauty, power and magic of Revelations is what I most long to see. Years I don't go, I pacify myself with YouTube. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZuBFz6WYfs] When I'm lucky, I find older videos, sometimes 20 years old, and watch them alongside the newer ones. The dancers' athleticism and grace, and the pictures they create on stage are awe-inspiring. Last year I…
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No School, No Lunch

Education, Politics, News & Notable
From NPR: When cold snaps and blizzards shutter schools, kids miss more than their daily lessons. Some miss out on the day's nutritious meal as well. Blue and I talked about this when the metro area shut down two weeks ago. Some folks were home when horrendous traffic and inclement weather collided in Atlanta, but thousands of others ended up stuck in the worst jam they've ever experienced. People slept in their cars or abandoned them and hoofed it to nearby friends, restaurants and stores. But there were hundreds of students who had no such options - instead, they ended up at school over night when their buses were unable to maneuver the slick hills home. For many parents, this may have been a nightmare. Many, but perhaps not all. For…
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Texas free write

Personal Narrative
I'm in Texas where they say everything is bigger. I'm not sure about bigger, but certainly different is accurate. I entered my hotel and spotted a poster screaming dire warnings about firearms and imprisonment and fines not to exceed $10,000. I've stayed in lots of hotels. Never seen such a sign. The last time I hoteled in Texas was in the 80s. Maybe they didn't have those loud posters then. I got punked by four interchanges in the first 15 minutes of my drive this evening. I'm working in the cut, the boondocks, bumble----, etc. Apparently you have to really be quick at the wheel to make it to the middle of nowhere. Driving an hour to the middle of nowhere, I noticed a recurring sign: Crossover 1/4 mile. In…
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When more is better

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Temple Building
Now I remember why I like running 4 miles better than running 3. — nicole means victory (@ndcollier) September 11, 2013 Distance running didn't come naturally to me. I'm a sprinter, and have been ever since I outran the neighborhood boys back in grade school. In my 20s, I tried distance running a few times, but it never really stuck. I rarely felt as if I could breathe very well, and my legs always itched. I figured out the solution to both of those things years later - a histamine blocker and pacing. Yesterday's run was a good one. This route had manageable hills and after 3 miles, I had energy left, but no time. It takes me anywhere from a half mile to a mile to get warmed up. During those first…
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