August 21, 2010 10:02:00 PM
Birney Imes - [email protected]
A birthday is a time for reflection. I hope you will indulge me.
Growing up in Columbus, my favorite pastime as a kid was cruising all over town on a bicycle. Across the river was off limits, so naturally, that''s where we went. In those days all the honky tonks and beer joints were over there. We were more interested in the curb markets that sold firecrackers. I still fancy myself an explorer.
The best watermelon I ever had I bought from a man on the side of the road on the way to a storytelling festival in Michigan. We ate it with my sister''s family and were all amazed by its sweetness. That night we heard ghost stories in a tent during a thunderstorm. Don''t think I''ve ever had a watermelon that good since. Maybe it was the circumstances.
Nothing quite compares to standing in the woods with your grandson, and you are both chewing on a piece of honeycomb just taken from one of your hives and each of you is watching honey run down the other''s chin.
I used to roll my eyes at people who claimed they walked for exercise. Over the years I''ve run, swam and played handball at the Y. Five or so years ago I started walking and enjoy it as much as any exercise I''ve ever done. The main thing is to keep moving. If you''re like me, you probably don''t stretch enough.
I have friends who when we''re together we laugh till our faces hurt. Two of them are from college days; we can go years without seeing each other and then when we do it''s as though we''ve never been apart. It takes a lot of effort and time to keep a friendship going, something I''ve not done very well.
Wish I had learned a second language, something impractical like Italian or Portuguese, or something beautiful, like French. And to play a musical instrument, the piano, maybe. Our daughter tried to give me piano lessons once, but I was an impossible student, as I''ve been all my life.
Our children have opened up so many new worlds for us. Though they weren''t able to convert me into a soccer fan, our grandson just might. He''s almost 4 and about to begin his career.
My best travel memories have come from unexpected encounters in sometimes out-of-the-way places. I can be fanatical about looking for local food and good coffee.
The trick is finding the right person to ask. Recently, it was our son, who we called as we were driving through Alabama. By way of computer, he found us The Ark in Riverside, Al., a 70-year-old catfish house so named because it was first built on a barge so its bootlegging owner could drift to another county when he feared an raid. It''s just up the road from Talledaga and understandably is a favorite of NASCAR drivers.
I''m learning slowly, but I want to know more about nature. When you can name the trees, flowers and constellations, they become your friends. One of my brothers, a sailor, said that when sailing the high seas, he looked upon the constellation Orion as an old friend.
A tomato sandwich is the perfect food. Of course, what makes the perfect tomato sandwich is a personal thing. Hold the bacon for me, please. I like heirloom tomatoes, basil, mayo, Spike seasoning and a hearty bread. The best tomatoes are not always the prettiest; the same can be true with people.
I''ve come to realize that those people who irritate me -- the ones I''ll cross the street to avoid speaking to -- are really my angels. They were put here to make me a better person. It works for me ... sometimes.
Though it happens every second, the birth of a child is one of life''s miracles. Watching the birthing of our children was one of the most emotional and wondrous experiences of my life. I can remember shaking as I tried to photograph Peter, our first, coming into the world. Remarkably, the pictures are sharp. For the birth of our third, daughter Tanner, the doctor was so nonchalant, I thought I was going to have to catch her. Though, by then, I was an old hand at it; I think I could have managed it.
Another year. Thankful to still be here, remembering, walking and marveling at this wonderful opportunity we are given, a life on this verdant planet.
E-mail Birney Imes at [email protected]
Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.