Out of Africa

An unforgettable game drive

Story & Photographs by John Earp

Wake-up comes at 6 a.m. with the room attendant lightly knocking at the tent entrance and whispering just loud enough, “Good morning.”

Groggily we dress and assemble the camera gear, binoculars and warm-weather clothes we’ll need for the all-day drive. At the Olonana Lodge we take a moment to watch the sunrise, then move to the Land Cruiser following Joseph, our guide, who has treated us to the scenes of the Masai Mara — the giraffes, zebras, water buffalo, hippos and rhinos — for the previous two days.

Joseph Koyie is a prince among guides and a Maasai warrior. Like all of the Maasai we encounter, Joseph is confident, but not arrogant, and treats us as guests in his home, being neither obsequious nor condescending. He is the recipient of the 2015 Eco-Warrior Guide award, the 2015 Born Free Foundation Guide of the Year and an occasional instructor at the school now required for all Masai Mara guides. He established Under the Acacia Tree Foundation, a nonprofit organization to provide schools and water systems for his community, and has lectured internationally on the Masai Mara and its people, the Maasai tribe.

The Maasai are warriors who live a simple life true to their ancestors. There is no electricity. They share a common compound circled by upright tree branches often reinforced by thatch to keep predatory animals out. Inside the compound is a secondary circle made of the same tree branches as a pen for the Maasai cattle, sheep and goats. Cattle are the Maasai currency. They use it for trade and most importantly as the dowry from the groom to the bride’s family.

As we head out the Olonana Lodge gate we turn right, heading north to begin an elongated circle through the greater Masai Mara, eventually winding our way south toward the Tanzanian border, then north again. The sky is exceptionally clear, bright blue and without a cloud, endless and unbroken.  After 3 kilometers we turn right and cross the Mara River, a modest waterway about 10 meters across that, in the rainy season, will be a raging current, double in width and impassable.

We head along a rocky, uneven, bone-jarring road and pass a small commercial area reminiscent of an Old West frontier town. It looks rough and no doubt is. There are general stores, specialty outlets, churches and bars but not many inhabitants. Soon we turn south, back into the Masai Mara Reserve. The landscape is savannah with tall grass occasionally broken by the umbrella-like African acacia tree. Mara means “spotted” and Masai “earth,” the image you get as the sun casts shadows of the lone trees. It’s still early and the most likely opportunity to spot cats. Joseph is methodical about hunting out sites where we might find a lion pride as we move across the grassy plain. There is no pattern to spotting wildlife. It simply happens.

Along the Mara River near the Kichwa airstrip — little more than a dirt road carved into the earth where we first landed — we spot two lionesses with five cubs in a scrum constantly lagging behind their mothers, who haphazardly stalk a small herd of impala. It’s a harem, a single buck with a number of females. The buck stands forward of the females, grunting. All face the lions with the intensity of the shared danger. Distance is the best defense. As the lions come close the impala retreat, then again make a stand. The pattern is repeated until the lions tire of the ritual and move on.

Joseph navigates east to the Topi Plains, a grassy land of rolling hills known for its large herd of topi, a close relative to wildebeest. They have generally reddish brown skins except for the black patch that covers the front of the face and sides of their legs. We see thousands, speckling the hills far into the distance with several lone topis standing atop mounds in a stoic pose, like Centurions.

Farther east is the area known as the Double Crossing for the two small streams that converge across the road. Joseph fords two deep river beds in a matter of minutes, spots something and goes off-road. He turns toward a dry river with a grassy island and a lone tree. As we get close, a lion raises up. It’s clear there is more than one, and we stop at a safe distance to count. Ten, all lionesses and cubs, lying on this small patch separating the two riverbanks. Most are sleeping. Lions are lazy. A large monitor lizard insinuates itself among the lions, who pay it no mind. After several minutes of still life with lions, we move on.

Soon we see three jeeps stopped beyond a patch of bush. Three cheetahs are tearing into a freshly killed Grant’s gazelle. Observing from a distance, dozens of buzzards are joined by dozens more who parachute in to join the dance of anticipation, sitting on the sidelines waiting for the cheetahs to reach their fill and give up their prize. As the cheetahs feast, a single buzzard hops closer to test the cheetahs’ resolve, but they quickly stare him down. Finally sated, two cheetahs move back to the bush to lie in the shade. A single cat remains, and the buzzards feel their opportunity is near. More and more, they inch closer to the gazelle, and the remaining cheetah becomes increasingly assertive, defending its kill until it, too, tires of the game, exhausted and full. As the cheetah begins to walk away, the buzzards descend on the dead animal. The cheetah feints toward them a couple of times but eventually cedes them their meal. The buzzards mass over the carcass. Like flying piranhas they tear apart the animal’s remains. In a matter of 10 minutes there is little left but bones. The hyenas will soon come and devour the remaining meat, then the bones themselves.

With the Land Cruiser bucking and shifting on the uneven terrain as we drive, we see an almost endless rolling plain swarming with small brown dots. Joseph explains that the massive herds of wildebeest that migrated to Tanzania’s Serengeti Plain are making an unusual reverse migration. A lack of rain in the Serengeti, in combination with an extended rainy season in the Masai Mara, has inspired the wildebeest to return to the greener grasses on the Kenyan side. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeests spread out across the rolling savannah. As we drive through, they move aside like Moses parting the Red Sea.

Joseph stops near an acacia tree, where we break for lunch. He brings out the hardware — tables, chairs, plates, utensils. Eating in the bush is a bit surreal, as if you’ve gone back in time. The wildebeest file around us as we drink Kenya’s most popular beer, fittingly named Tusker. In the distance we can see the long lines of wildebeest marching in single file as they move up from the Serengeti. We speak about the day, finish lunch, load the Land Cruiser and climb back in, taking a dirt road southwest toward the Tanzanian border.

After a short drive we come on a tall mound called Lookout Hill offering a grand vista. We look back and see the fields of wildebeest, then head south, moving closer to the border, where we see a bat-eared fox. We stop and Joseph pulls out his binoculars. He stares intently through the glasses and then throws the truck into gear. Off-road again we jostle along and then stop. To our left, 10 feet away, is a serval with a beautiful spotted fur coat, a rare sighting in the daylight. This cat would normally rush into hiding, but not this time. It walks alongside the Land Cruiser at a paced gait, seemingly undisturbed. After a flurry of pictures we move on.

Passing over the Mara River again, we arrive at the Tanzanian border. Joseph moves on to an improved road and we pick up the pace, then come to an abrupt stop. Behind us walking calmly aside the road is a large male lion. We watch as he passes our vehicle, indifferent to our presence. Slowly, methodically, he moves on, keenly aware of his place in the hierarchy of the Masai Mara.

Joseph keeps a quick pace, aware we must be out of the reserve by 6:30 p.m. After a long drive north we move off the smooth surface to an unimproved road, turn back to the Mara River, then continue parallel to it. We are getting close to the Olonana gate, the exit from the reserve, when someone points out several elephants. Joseph turns toward them. We come to a stop. It’s a huge matriarch and a few followers. The matriarch looks us over and moves forward, only a few yards from our vehicle. Then from a deep, wooded area come more elephants. Then more and then more. Parked along the side of the road, the great, gray mass begins coming in our direction. They walk toward us one by one, slowly. As they come close they veer off in front of the truck. More elephants come out of the bush and continue their walk past the truck. One, two, three . . . 82, in all sizes and ages. No one says a word. Pure silence except for the jostling sound of the elephants stepping through the high grass as they sway by.

In the wake of the elephants, we move toward the gate with a sense of urgency. Joseph responds to a call on the radio. He turns toward the Mara River and drives to a handful of safari vehicles. We pull up beside them and in front of us is a leopard. Many a dedicated wildlife enthusiast will go years without seeing one. Nocturnal by nature, here, in the late afternoon, is a mature male.  Beautifully spotted. Lying upright. Face forward. Keen of its surroundings, indifferent to the vehicles, eyes focused ahead on the open savannah. It stands up and begins to pace forward. Toned and muscular, it represents everything majestic the creatures of the Masai Mara epitomize: confidence, self-awareness, elegance, focus and the indomitable need to survive. As more vehicles pull up, we pull away.

Joseph heads to the Olonana gate and we make it with a few minutes to spare. Dusk is settling around us. Darkness is not far away. The road back to the lodge is rough with large rocks and an uneven surface. No one complains. We’re all exhausted. The drive has lasted 10 hours and covered almost 200 kilometers. We turn into the Olonana gate and stop in front of the main lodge. A handful of attendants pass out hot towels scented in eucalyptus. The smell clears the sinuses and draws out the day’s dust. We gather our gear, thank Joseph, and walk back to our tents to await the next morning’s knock.  PS

During his career with the Ford Motor Company, John Earp visited every major country in Africa and, with his wife Catherine, had the good fortune to live in South Africa.

Reflections of Africa

The Arts Council of Moore County, in collaboration with the English-Speaking Union, Ruth Pauley Lecture Series, Sunrise Theater and Penick Village, offers a weeklong and multi-venue program exploring the unique diversity of African culture and wildlife through a series of lectures, films and art exhibitions.

Sunday, Jan. 27 — Out of Africa, 2:30 p.m. Sunrise Theater, 250 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines, free and open to the public.

Tuesday, Jan. 29 — Joseph Koyie: “Maasai Culture,” 9:00 a.m., Penick Village, 500 E. Rhode Island Ave., free and open to the public.

Wednesday, Jan. 30 — The Forgotten Kingdom, 7:30 p.m., Sunrise Theater, 250 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines, free and open to the public.

Thursday, Jan. 31 — Ruth Pauley Lecture Series, Joseph Koyie on “Masai Mara Wildlife,” “Maasai Culture and Becoming a Maasai Adult,” 4:00 p.m., Sunrise Theater, 250 N.W. Broad St., Southern Pines, free and open to the public.

Friday, Feb. 1 — Reflections of Africa Art Exhibition, Garth Swift, Jessie Mackay and Patricia Thomas, 6:00 p.m., Campbell House Galleries, 482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines, free and open to the public.

For additional information, call (910) 692-2787 or visit MooreArt.org.

Joseph Koyie — Naturalist

Joseph Ole Koyie was born in the Loita Hills, at the Eastern corridors of the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya.  He has a professional diploma in wildlife management from Ron and John Feldman College. He joined Sanctuary Olonana in 2010 as the head naturalist.  Joseph is passionate about his Maasai culture and the Masai Mara eco-system.  His knowledge and reputation as a guide and environmentalist has earned him prestigious recognitions, including of Eco-Warrior Guide of the Year by Eco-Tourism Kenya and The Best Guide in the Masai Mara by the Born Free Foundation.  He established Under the Acacia Tree Foundation, a non profit, that helps build schools and water resources in rural villages.

Garth Swift — Artist

Growing up on a farm in Zimbabwe through the ’60s and ’70s, Swift was exposed to wildlife in its natural habitat from an early age. He attended the Natal Technikon in Durban, South Africa, where he studied fine art, majoring in graphic art and printmaking and began experimenting in watercolor, his first love. “I love the feel of it, the way the water washes over the paper, leaving a faint residue of color, and then dries and fixes itself in an unplanned and accidental way,” he says. In response to collectors in the U.S. market, Garth began using acrylics on canvas for some of his larger works. “Visitors’ memories of the African bush, are of sweeping panoramas and big skies; that’s what I try to convey,” says Swift.

Jessie Stuart Mackay — Artist

Mackay’s work has been exhibited nationally in galleries across the country. Her paintings were in Architectural Digest on the walls of Mary Matalin and James Carville’s home in Alexandria, Virginia, and have been featured on “The Little Green Notebook — Adventures in Design” website by Jenny Komenda. “Color is what inspires me,” says Mackay. “When I look at a subject, the feeling I have is what determines the colors I use, not just what I see before me.” A resident of Pinehurst, Jessie received her degree from Oglethorpe University in psychology and is a self-taught artist. She’s involved in her non-profit, KARIMU, which focuses on Women’s Empowerment in Tanzania.

Patricia Fay Thomas — Artist

A Moore County native, art has been an integral part of Thomas’ life since childhood, when she received private instruction under N.C. artist Anita Jones Stanton, and later attended the Governor’s School. She received a bachelor of arts from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she studied a variety of mediums, with a concentration in painting. Just before graduation, a chance encounter with a U.S. Peace Corps recruiter resulted in her move to Burkina Faso, West Africa, where she lived and worked for five years. Afterward she settled in Quebec City, Canada, completing a master’s degree in sociology from Université Laval. She has worked for over 25 years in international development, both as a private consultant and at United Nations headquarters in New York City. Patricia now divides her time between Quebec City and Chapel Hill. Her solo exhibit, titled “Mapping the Moment,” was presented by the Galerie de l’Articho in Quebec in June of 2018. Her work can also be seen at Caffé Driade, in Chapel Hill.  PS

More Than a Moment

Sculptor Zenos Frudakis and golf’s most famous statue

By Jim Moriarty

Absent the massive grandstands, the thousands upon thousands of people and the sound of the carillon bells from The Village Chapel, it was a day not unlike the one when Payne Stewart won the U.S. Open Championship almost 20 years ago. It was cool for the time of year, with an occasional spritz of rain. Larger than life in the moment, Stewart remains so, cast in bronze, facing the opposite direction than he did that day in June, still punching forward and kicking back. A man — approximately the age Stewart would be had he lived — with a belly making a jailbreak from the top of his khaki shorts and his left knee pinched in a black brace, stands next to what is arguably the most iconic golf sculpture ever created, and tries to strike “the pose” without falling over and injuring himself as his partners capture the moment on their cellphones. It is an occurrence behind the 18th green more common than all the pine trees on No. 2.

On October 25, 1999, a group of Pinehurst Resort and Country Club executives were returning from a trip to Scotland, decompressing after the massive undertaking of staging Pinehurst’s first U.S. Open. The night before at the Turnberry Hotel, owned now by Donald Trump, in a conversation that rose to the what-if stage, they bandied about the idea of a Stewart tribute. The next day, “we were paged at the Newark airport because Payne’s airplane had just gone down,” says Pat Corso, at the time the resort’s CEO. “At that moment, in the airport at Newark, it was decided we were going to do a statue.”

The sculptor commissioned for the job was Zenos Frudakis. The piece was unveiled roughly two years and two weeks after Stewart and five other people perished when their private jet suffered a catastrophic decompression after taking off from Orlando, Florida, and flew porpoise-like halfway across the country until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the most remote acres of a farmer’s field outside Mina, South Dakota.

Stewart’s widow, Tracey, and their children, Chelsea and Aaron, came to the dedication. The night before they ate at the Pine Crest Inn, Stewart’s favorite haunt. Dick Coop, Stewart’s sports psychologist, was there. So was Mike Hicks, his caddie, and Dixie Fraley, the widow of Robert, one of Stewart’s agents, who also died in the crash. They told stories that made them laugh. They told stories that made them cry.

“The morning was kind of misty and cloudy. There was a fog bank,” Corso recalls. “The fife and drum corps from St. Andrews University started down on the 18th tee. You couldn’t see them but you could hear them. Almost at the same time that they came out of the mist, the sun shines through. It made your hair stand up on the back of your neck.”

Frudakis was there, too. “Tracey, she was still so shaken. You could see,” he says. “I was next to her but I didn’t want to bother her. I felt like I would be trespassing on her emotions. Her daughter was very quiet. There was a kind of remoteness they both seemed to have.” Earlier in the morning Frudakis’ wife, Rosalie, went into the pro shop and saw Aaron sitting on the floor inside a circular clothing rack, hiding. “He was obviously very sad, very depressed,” says Zenos. After the statue was unveiled, Aaron was asked to recreate the 15-foot putt Stewart holed to win the Open. It took him one try more than his father.

Frudakis didn’t go looking for golf, it came looking for him. In ’96, an art dealer in Atlanta helped secure his services creating a statue of Arnold Palmer, destined for Augusta’s Riverwalk, for the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. Since then, in addition to Stewart and Palmer, his golf resume includes Jack Nicklaus, the Bob Jones sculpture for the eponymous award the USGA bestows, and another piece for East Lake Country Club, where Jones grew up.

The studio where Frudakis works is in a carriage house tucked behind a modest home behind a wrought iron fence in a modest Philadelphia suburb. The two-story house, where he lives alone, would be a fixer-upper if he was interested in that sort of thing. He’s not. Four cats, Mr. Gray, Zane Grey, Evie and Bing Clawsby, have the run of the place. Though divorced now, Rosalie manages the art business from her office off the kitchen. He works until one, two, three in the morning, then decompresses by walking on a treadmill or playing the guitar plugged into a speaker the size of a Crock-Pot in a tiny room off his upstairs bedroom until the work recedes sufficiently into the night and he can sleep. The guitar was a gift from his friend Don McLean. The “American Pie” one. “Sometimes I think I’ve lived my art instead of my life,” says Frudakis.

The studio is crammed with heads and torsos; modeling tools passed down from artist to artist; a 10,000-year-old skull; photos everywhere, some as work, some as memories; clay with a pedigree and a whiff of immortality; sculpting stands, armatures, books and rolls of duct tape. Details are paramount. When he was working on Stewart, the family loaned him some of Payne’s plus fours and a pair of his shoes. Tracey saw her husband as a younger man than the one who passed away at 42, and Stewart’s bronze face is forever 10 years more youthful than the man who made the putt. Frudakis uses an oil-based clay that is nearly immortal itself; it doesn’t dry. He has clay once molded by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. “I don’t use it very much because it’s too small an amount,” he says. “I had more of D.C. (Daniel Chester) French. I just mixed that in with all my clay. It wasn’t enough to do a big figure so I thought if I just put a little bit in each of mine, then I’ll know it’s in there.” He has clay from James Earle Fraser, creator of The End of the Trail.

There is no shelf, no corner of the studio, to look at that doesn’t look back at you. Benjamin Franklin. Ulysses S. Grant. Martin Luther King. Bernard Darwin. The boxer James J. Braddock — Cinderella Man. Clarence Darrow. Enrico Fermi. Philadelphia Phillies Mike Schmidt and Robin Roberts. Albert Einstein. Alexis de Tocqueville. And, of course, Stewart.

Here, by the stairs, are diplomas and citations — the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; an honorary doctorate in Italy. Over by the door is a wall of photos. “I like to interview people, so I get to know them,” he says. “You try to find some common ground, a bridge, so you’re not two isolated islands.” There’s Nicklaus posing. “What do we have in common? The hard work. Nicklaus told me that he practiced until his hands bled when he was young. He asked me, ‘Do you golf?’ I said, ‘No. Do you sculpt?’” There’s Palmer sitting. “See how he’s depressed? Someone came over and whispered. He just had a friend die,” says Frudakis. “Later we’re having dinner and I noticed people want his attention. He let his dinner go cold and he went to talk to people. And that’s who he was, I think.”

Here are the photos from evenings at the Lotos Club on 66th Street in New York, a literary club founded in 1870. Frudakis did a bust of Mark Twain for them and has been a member for over 20 years. Carol Burnett. Tony Bennett. Dick Cavett. Ken Burns. Yoko Ono. Harry Connick Jr. Tom Wolfe. His friend McLean, of course. And Gen. David Petraeus. “Don and Petraeus talked because Don, when he was a young man, played at West Point and Petraeus said, ‘You don’t know this but I was in the audience and I remember you saying you were going to take all the money you made for the show and give it to Veterans Against the War. And I thought, that young man has a lot of courage.’”

The Lotos Club is a distant commute from Gary, Indiana, where Frudakis grew up. “My father came from Crete. He was born in the 1800s,” says Frudakis. A bust of his father, Vasilis (he was called Bill), is the first piece Frudakis sculpted. “He came over and worked in the mines. Wyoming or someplace. Lost his eye on the right side. That side of his mouth was damaged, too. Dynamite blew up in his face. The person next to him got killed,” he says. Bill left his first wife and family to marry a woman 30 years younger than himself, Zenos’ mother, Kassiani, who was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, but grew up in Greece. “My father was 60, probably, when I was born.”

The second Frudakis family settled in Gary, with a three-year stopover in Wheeling, West Virginia. Zenos’ father owned bars and restaurants in both places but gambling was his real vocation. “Which was not good for us,” says Frudakis. “Everything else came in second. My father always carried a pistol. It was a little Wild West. He was a little bit fractured, a little maybe bipolar, a little manic-depressive. Maybe a lot.” Frudakis says one winter night in Gary, his father chased him out of the house at gunpoint. Hours later his mother opened a window to let him crawl back in. He says when they lived in Wheeling, his father decided to win an argument with his mother by stopping their car on a bridge, taking young Zenos out of the back seat, and dangling him over the railing.

Frudakis graduated from Horace Mann High School in Gary. Other alums of the illustrious school include Tom Harmon, the football star, and Frank Borman, the astronaut. He ran track. “You want to work hard enough so you don’t finish the race and have something left,” Frudakis says. “I used to run in high school, if I hit a finish line and I had anything left, if I wasn’t really collapsed, I knew I could have done better. I was frustrated. You got to be empty when you get there.” He worked at U.S. Steel as a cinder snapper, among the dirtiest jobs in the mills, using a wide-nosed shovel to throw cinder and coke into a 3,000-degree furnace, then covering your face with the blade to shield it from the heat.

Frudakis did, however, have someone to look up to. His half-brother from his father’s first family, EvAngelos Frudakis, was a successful artist in New York. “I remember when I was like 10, my father would show me pictures of Angelo’s work. He was a star at his art school. He got the Prix de Rome. He’d go to Europe. My father would say, ‘Look, he’s got these awards. Look at the sculpture he did. What are you doing?’”

He was finding his own art. “I knew about my brother and I could draw. All through school I had kids behind me, teachers, looking at what I was doing, so I knew I had something that I did that was special and it made me feel important,” he says. “I studied every day when I was in second, third, fourth grade, in Wheeling and then in Gary. I would draw from art books. I was training myself. I was 21 before I went to art school, before I got any serious instruction.” First it was the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, then the University of Pennsylvania. His brother became his mentor. One of EvAngelo’s sculptures, The Signer, is on the corner of 5th and Chestnut in downtown Philadelphia. He let Zenos do the feather. “He probably redid it,” says Frudakis, laughing. EvAngelo, who also lives in Philadelphia, is in his 90s and still sculpting.

Frudakis’ first big commission, no pun intended, was an elephant for a mall. His body of work has grown larger than life-size to include public figures, sports figures, The Workers’ Memorial in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, The Honor Guard at the Air Force Academy, figure sculptures Flying at the Capital Center in Indianapolis and Dream to Fly, three figures in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. In North Carolina he’s memorialized the singer Nina Simone in her hometown of Tryon, welding a heart inside the chest of the sculpture to entomb her ashes. He did a bust of General William Pelham Yarborough that’s at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville and a statue of Frederick Law Olmsted holding a stylized blueprint at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. “It’s basically the design of where he’s standing,” says Frudakis. “I wanted to see him as a thinker, a creator. It’s unique to him.” Near the Stewart statue is Frudakis’ sculpture of Bob Dedman Sr. “I’ll never forget one day when my girls were like 4 and 2, we took them to Pinehurst,” says the resort’s owner, Bob Dedman Jr. “My littlest daughter went up and started knocking on my father’s statue thinking he might be inside.”

His golf works notwithstanding, Frudakis is probably best known for Freedom, his sculpture at 16th and Vine Streets in Philadelphia. The Rodin Museum, housing one of the many versions of August Rodin’s Gates of Hell, is nearby on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. “My brother studied with somebody who studied with Rodin. Rodin studied with people who knew Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. It goes back to the Renaissance, to the ancients. It keeps getting passed down,” he says.

In Freedom there are four figures in various stages of liberation from a 20-by-8-foot wall of bronze. As the figure struggles to break free, it becomes more developed. “I can’t just show a free figure. You don’t just get free. You have to have the opposite. To know dark, you have to know light. To know cold you have to know hot,” he says. The wall, like Rodin’s Gates, includes many smaller pieces within the larger sculpture. “In nature if you see a tree from a distance, it has a big design. But as you get closer, it’s got more things to see, right down to the veins in the leaves. We’re part of a larger whole. My favorite poem is T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets. He had a lot of personal references in there.”

The same is true of Freedom. His father’s bust is included, but it’s fractured, broken like the man. Frudakis’ sculpture tools are in the wall, as is his hand. Coins add up to his birthday. A pet cat, Kitia, that passed away is memorialized. And on and on. “As close up as you get or as far back as you get, there’s something to see. So, when people are walking by — as opposed to driving by and getting the big picture — if they get up close it’s going to take years for them to find all the stuff that’s in it. The world works that way. Everybody wants to be free of something.”

When Pinehurst’s executives commissioned Frudakis to do the Stewart statue — a minor engineering project given the figure is balancing on one leg, requiring internal steel support — they knew in the Newark airport what they wanted the pose to be. After all, what other choice was there? It’s their One Moment in Time. But nothing stands still for Frudakis, even in bronze. “People tend to see the moment before, the moment of and the moment after. They kind of put it together,” he says. “Rodin’s John the Baptist Walking, has the front part of the figure in one moment, the back part is in another moment, so there’s a little bit of flow. It’s not stiff. I tried to do that.” And succeeded.

“Even now when people think of Pinehurst, they think back to the fist pump and him talking to Phil Mickelson,” says Dedman. “It’s something I think the golf world will never forget. It’s interesting to see people just want to kind of touch that, share that.”

They put it all together, before, during and after, with a little help from their friends. PS

Jim Moriarty is the senior editor at PineStraw and can be reached at jjmpinestraw@gmail.com for anything except gambling advice.

Out of the Blue

The Feline Mystique

Yes, my cat is smarter than your border collie

By Deborah Salomon

Hello, Happy New Year and welcome to my Fifth Annual January Kitty Column.

First, a recap:

After a lifetime of rescuing and adopting animals, I had retired. Then, seven years ago a coal-black kitty came to my door, friendly and hungry. Black cats are so special, needy and mournful. I fed him outside for months before letting him into my home and my life, later learning that he — a neutered male with front claws removed — had been abandoned when his family moved away.

I named him Lucky because any animal I adopt is.

A year later I noticed another cat — mottled grey and white, cross-eyed, lumpy and grumpy — sitting on various porches. Neighbors called her “everybody’s” because she begged more than enough food. Her clipped ear indicated a spayed feral. I added chicken livers to the mix. One day she showed up with a bloody paw. I opened the door and that was that — except for her disposition, which prompted the name Hissy. Hisses quickly turned to purrs. Now, she’s Missy, Lucky’s devoted companion who mothers him, fusses over him, wrestles him and pushes into his food bowl.

Whereas Lucky possesses keen intelligence, deductive reasoning, powerful persuasion and the sweetest disposition I have ever encountered in an animal, Missy’s a dingbat, always underfoot, forever wanting something . . . like my lap. I should have named her Edith.

There’s just one problem. Two, actually. Cats can tell time and, to my surprise, cats are creatures of habit.

From the beginning, they slept on my bed. But because Lucky had napped all afternoon he didn’t snooze for long. By midnight he was pacing across my back, purring in my ear, pawing my hand. He must be hungry, I thought. I’ll keep a little bowl of kibble in the nightstand drawer and give him a few — a pacifier.

Huge, life-changing mistake. Soon, Lucky considered my bedtime his noshtime. His inner clock knew exactly what time I usually retire. Late basketball game? A perturbed Lucky tries to lead me away from it, into the bedroom. When I finally succumb he perches on the nightstand and commences pawing excitedly, desperately, first at me, then at the drawer, which he can open if cracked. The expression in his eyes mixes pleading with annoyance and, finally, desperation: “Hey lady, this was your idea. I’m only playing along.”

After a half-dozen kibble snacks, he desists, nudges onto the heating pad that should be soothing my shoulder arthritis, and snores softly.

Until 3 a.m.

I am a lifelong early riser, about 5 a.m. In high school and college, I studied. A rested brain fueled with black coffee works efficiently. Later, I baked and folded laundry. Once back at work, I wrote. Still do. That means by 10 a.m. I’m ready for lunch. By 1 p.m., a nap because after his 3 a.m. snack lucky Lucky can resume his sleep but I can’t. Once I’m up, I’m up. Imagine when the end of daylight saving turned 3 a.m. into 2 a.m. Took a month to convince him that just because it’s dark doesn’t mean it’s bedtime, especially with Duke roaring onto the court.

I hear you feline-dissers screaming, “Close the bedroom door!” Well, maybe Lucky doesn’t have front claws to scratch it, but his pathetic meow is worse.


Lesson: Just because you can’t teach cats tricks doesn’t mean they won’t learn. Watch my Lucky: He gives his paw on cue, when the clock clicks 3:00. Smart boy, Lucky. Now roll over, please, and gimme a break.  PS

Deborah Salomon is a staff writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at debsalomon@nc.rr.com.


Wheezy Does It

Listen for the distinctive call of the pine siskin this winter

By Susan Campbell

Each winter I hear from folks who encounter small brown birds they cannot identify, sometimes visiting their feeders, other times pecking around on the forest floor. Some are American goldfinches in their dull, nonbreeding plumage. Others end up being identified as female house finches through their gray-brown coloration and their distinctive streaked breasts and bellies. But there are other possibilities — especially this season: That finch-like, striped visitor just might be a pine siskin.

In the Sandhills, these feisty little birds frequent evergreens with, as their name implies, pines being their favorite. They can often be seen clinging to the cones, determined to pry out the energy-rich seeds from within. However, they will not hesitate to search far and wide for other abundant seed sources. During the summer months, pine siskins usually are found breeding in the open, coniferous forests of the boreal region throughout northern states of the United States. They also range into southern Canada, as well as higher elevations of the Rockies and western mountain regions. Nondescript, with brown streaks and splashes of yellow on the wings and tail, these small birds are easy to miss. But the wheezy call coming from their little delicate bills is quite distinctive and hard to miss once you’ve heard it. Another tip for spotting them is to remember that pine siskins associate closely when breeding as well as foraging.

This winter we just may have an abundance of pine siskins here. That is because siskins are a species that ornithologists term “irruptive.” Like red-breasted nuthatches, cedar waxwings and purple finches, pine siskins are nomadic and move farther southward in winters when certain seed crops are in short supply across the northern forests. When these gregarious invaders find feeders offering sunflower or thistle seed, they will take up residence by the dozens. Most people maintaining a feeding station, at least in the Sandhills, have almost certainly hosted at least a few of these little Northerners during the last big irruption, which was five years ago.

As numerous as they may become in the weeks ahead, it is unlikely siskins will attempt to breed here. We have actually documented them staying through April in the past. But remaining individuals have always vanished with the early summer warm-up. Southern forests that mimic the usual northern habitat, such as our tracts of longleaf pine, certainly do have the necessary components for the birds to successfully breed, and attempts to be successful by other irruptive species have been documented in our area previously. The most remarkable of these were a few red crossbill pairs that bred in the area back in the mid-1970s.

The numbers of feathered winter visitors is surely on the rise now that natural food sources are becoming scarcer. After a summer that produced a bounty for wildlife, the inevitable depletion of seeds and berries is occurring. So definitely keep an eye (and an ear) out and keep your feeders full — a siskin or two just may drop by!    PS

Susan would love to receive your wildlife sightings and photos. She can be contacted by email at susan@ncaves.com.

Golftown Journal

Winter Rules

And the golfers play on

By Lee Pace

“The unkind winds and muddy, plugged lies of April and May, the deepening rough of June, the thronging summer folk of July and August, the obfuscating goose feathers and fallen leaves of autumn are all gone, gone, and golf feels, on the frost-stiffed fairways, reduced to its austere and innocent essence.” — John Updike

In early January 1919, the Pinehurst Outlook celebrated the riches of the local golf experience, writing of the annual Mid-Winter Tournament and of a Tin Whistles competition. It previewed the upcoming St. Valentine’s Day Tournament, listed hundreds of arrivals at the Carolina Hotel, and advertised an antiseptic powder for the feet just used by troops in World War I as perfect for golfers because it “takes the friction from the shoe and freshens the foot.” The newspaper also espoused the appeal of the Sandhills: “As the winter golf centre of the two hemispheres, Pinehurst is now thoroughly established, its unequalled equipment embracing three distinct six-thousand-yard courses and an additional nine-hole course.”

Many of you wearing wool, eating stew and checking the Delta schedule to Palm Beach here in the numb of January have forgotten, or were never even aware, that Pinehurst was created as a wintertime resort. The Carolina Hotel one century ago was open Nov. 10 to May 1, and Richard Tufts of the founding family once noted that the aesthetics of the area soon after being cleared for timber in the late 1890s weren’t very high, but “The one thing Pinehurst had to offer in these early days was its climate.”

Which is all the more reason to celebrate golf in the off-months.

Others across the land do so with imagination and great élan. The Jemsek family, longtime owners of Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in the Chicago suburbs, created the Eskimo Open in 1963, and it’s been played every year since on the first Saturday of January with from two dozen to several hundred players. Golfers bring orange balls (the easier to find them in the snow), hammers (the easier to get your tee in the ground), and an appetite (gallons of chili are downed after the golf). 

“It’s a little bit crazy, just like people who go dip themselves in Lake Michigan every year,” Frank Jemsek says.

Golfers numbering up to 1,700 have flocked to Lake Minnetonka just west of Minneapolis each February for 34 years for the Wayzata Chilly Open, where golf “architects” lay out three nine-hole courses on the frozen lake and participants crack tennis balls with golf clubs — or even hockey sticks. Up in Alaska, golfers afflicted with cabin fever wear ice skates and aim their balls toward holes carved with ice augers into the hardened lake surfaces.

The average daily high in Kansas City is 39 degrees in January and 44 in February, so native Tom Watson was nonplussed during the second round of the 1979 Memorial Tournament in Ohio when he hit 16 greens and shot a 69 while battling 30 mph wind, sideways rain and wind-chill factors of 13 degrees. Some say it’s the finest bad-weather round on American soil in history.

“The key was keeping my hands warm,” Watson said. “I guess I’m used to playing in this kind of weather. It’s good Kansas City weather.”

Before air travel began whisking snowbound New Englanders and Manhattanites to Florida, the Sandhills were a Mecca for cold-weather golf. Golfers in Pinehurst have always had it lucky. So what if it rains in January? The water seeps quickly through the sandy loam.

“They came by train all winter long, from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania — places that had been covered by snow for a month,” remembered the late Peggy Kirk Bell, who bought the Pine Needles golf course with husband, Warren, in 1953. “We’d have short cold snaps but soon it would be warm enough to play. They would ride the train all night on Thursday and we’d pick them up early Friday morning. They played golf all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then we’d give them an early dinner and put them back on the train. They were back in New York for work Monday morning.”

Pinehurst was literally turning guests away during the popular winter months in the early 1920s, which is one reason a private club with a lodging component (Mid Pines in 1921), and a resort club with a real estate component (Pine Needles in 1928) were conceived and built. But then came the Depression and the Second World War, turning all the pre-existing travel and leisure trends on their ear. The advent of air conditioning in the mid-1900s opened Pinehurst and all its hotel properties to a 12-month market, and the area had lost its mark as a wintertime resort forever.

Peter deYoung’s roots growing up in Rochester, New York, and living three decades in Chicago adapted him to the ways and means of harsh weather golf. Twenty-five years ago, he suggested to then-Pinehurst CEO Pat Corso that he could put some traffic in empty hotel rooms and on golf courses if Corso would give him a price cut for junior golfers in what deYoung would call the Winternational Junior Series. The program still exists and in 2018-19 will host nine tournaments from late November through early March.

“If I had known it would last 25 years, I’m not sure I would have done it,” deYoung says with a laugh. “But we’ve had a lot of fun with it and brought a lot of kids from the North down here in the winter. We’ve had all kinds of weather stories.

“I remember one year standing on the fifth green watching the first group walk down the fairway. By the time they got to the green, we’d had an inch and a half of snow. Obviously we postponed the round.”

The Donald Ross Memorial Junior Championship has been organized for the week at the end of December every year since 1948 at Pinehurst, with players like Leonard Thompson, David Thore, David Eger and Chip Beck among the winners.

“We see the parents covered in blankets and wearing gloves, but the kids don’t seem to mind the cold,” says tournament director Brian Fahey. “The kids are pretty resilient. They just go play. The cold doesn’t bother them.”

Kelly Mitchum of the Pinehurst teaching staff was pitched on the idea in December of 2017 of playing the resort’s new short course, The Cradle, on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice of Dec. 21, from sunup to sundown, perhaps as a charity enterprise. Mitchum played 26 rounds from 7:20 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on something of a lark and a test run for a more organized event in December 2018 to raise money for Young Life of the Sandhills and the Sandhills Food Bank.

“I was pretty sore at the end of it, but it was a lot of fun,” Mitchum says of the 2017 marathon. “It was 50 degrees or so, pretty comfortable. The thing about winter golf is the wind. If the wind blows, it’s tough. But even if it’s 45 degrees and there’s no wind, it’s pretty comfortable.”

Each year I pledge to myself to remain engaged with my golf through the winter. You don’t need a tee time and you can play quickly. Dormant Bermuda is actually a terrific playing surface. Walking and lugging — my preferred style of golf — keeps the inner furnace roaring. The late afternoon winter sun yields a burnish on the sepia fairways you can’t find any other time. You can play winter rules — lift, clean and cheat. And playing the game beats watching it on television.

“As long as golf is an outdoor game, we’re going to play in all kind of conditions,” deYoung says.  PS

Chapel Hill writer Lee Pace has chronicled many winters worth of Pinehurst golf lore in three of his books — Pinehurst Stories (1991), The Spirit of Pinehurst (2004) and The Golden Age of Pinehurst (2012).



The moon was particularly beautiful tonight

standing there looking almost spellbound

the artist in me     creative juices starting to rise.

I thought about getting my camera set up

to capture the narrow, slivermoon

just over the mountaintop ridge,

treetops shimmering with the steady wind . . .

just enough light left

to make a great shot.

Then the 24º windchill reminded me

of how beautiful it is to be warm.

Now the creative juices are cooling down

my socksfeet warming     beside the fire.

That moon will have to reside in my memory

as well as all those stars.

— Raymond Whitaker


Puppy Prison

Life on the night shift

By Beth MacDonald

My husband, Mason, volunteered to build a new shelter for animals at a county facility occupied by a particularly adorable, needy shepherd mix. Every day he’d show up, “Adorable” would playfully beg him for attention. He sent pictures via text message to our daughter and me that, when opened, played that Sarah McLaughlin song “In the Arms of the Angels.” Our daughter took one look and said, “Bleeding hearts unite!” I wanted to know more.

Her adoption ad read like this: “This cutie-pie loves long walks, playing tug of war, ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ and other games like ‘Drop My Shoe.’ She eats everything she sees; rocks are her favorite snack. She’s definitely the type of dog that will get her head stuck in a banister. Her best friends are the worms and parasites that infest her. Her favorite color is white to match the contamination suits you’ll be getting if you take this lovable, good-natured heartbreaker home!”

Welcome to the family!

The newest member of the Mac Pack needed a name. We figured we’d wait a few days to see what her personality was like, and how she interacted with our other dogs, before committing to some boring name that had to do with her coloring. The first few hours alone with her produced some good front-runners such as Nononononooooo, Wheresmyshoe, and Yougottapeeoutside (which sounds French if you say it fast with the accent on the last two syllables). By our second visit to the vet for her bi-weekly checkup, I was so exhausted from “puppy watch” that when they asked to confirm her coloring was black and tan I said, “Yes, please. And hurry.” I thought they were offering me a drink. We almost named her Stout.

Like our other two dogs, we decided to crate train her to help with housebreaking. The older dogs have been out of their crates and managing the house for years. They do most of the cooking, cleaning and handle the bills, thanks to the trusty crate. House training the first week became “a thing,” as Mason says. We all agreed to shifts watching the dog — actively, not passively — to keep the house and yard clean, given her best friend infestation. I had first shift; Mason took the late shift.

The first night in her crate the puppy sang the song of its people all night long. We tried our best to ignore it, but even our oldest dog barked a harsh, “Silence! We sleep at night!” a few times. At 3:33 a.m. (I checked the clock to validate my self-pity), I gave up and let her out. She wasn’t interested in going to the bathroom outside. She much preferred the hardwood floor toilet. I took her outside anyway, but she only wanted to play with all the horrors lurking in the dark. Great! Me too!

I started brewing my coffee once I got back inside. I was up for the day. My oldest dog sat at my feet and asked for a light roast. Before 5:00 a.m. we covered several training modules such as “Appropriate Chew Toy Replacement,” “The Meaning of the Word No,” “No Means No,” “No Really Means No,” “Down,” “Drop My Shoe,” “How About You Eat Dad’s Camouflage Crocs,” “How to Properly Disinfect a House Before Consuming Coffee,” “Land Navigation for Dog Poo Deep in the Bushes Sans Flashlight,” and we completed 30 minutes of cardio doing laps around the living and dining rooms trying to get my shoes back.

By the end of the first week we realized we were just night shift jailhouse guards. The puppy had begun her set of auditions for her career as a blues singer the minute we put her to bed. The oldest dog asked me to put on some PBS programming to drown her out until her voice coach could get her on par with Etta James. I started to Google life hacks for keeping your eyes open when sleep deprived. Mason chimed in with his Ranger school advice and suggested a Copenhagen dip or toothpicks in my eyelids.

After a few weeks she settled into a nightly routine doing a 30-minute set of her favorite prison songs before finally letting us sleep. Most days she was up by 3:30 a.m. trying for her own Shawshank Redemption. After removing a poster of Raquel Welch and a worn-out bone fashioned into a hammer, I began the shuffle to get her outside before she had an accident. One night it was raining. I put her down, looked at the sky, and wondered whether the real Andy Dufresne was Tim Robbins or me  and when I’d be free from the first shift.  PS

Beth MacDonald is a Southern Pines suburban misadventurer who likes to make words up. She loves to travel with her family and read everything she can.

True South

Make a Note of It

A catalog of the oddities of life

By Susan S. Kelly

For a certain kind of writer — OK, this kind of writer — what’s in your Costco cart, and what you do at night to get ready for bed, is invaluable and fascinating. Unfortunately, this sort of ephemera, discussed offhand in a grocery store parking lot, or city park, or next door on the treadmill, or at the office water cooler, tends to get lost, forgotten or ignored while you’re bringing in the trash cans, refilling the copier paper tray, or debating shredded or chunk parm.

So I make a practice of writing everything down, copying it to the computer, printing it out, punching holes in it, and filing it in notebooks under tabs, just like you did in fourth grade. A new year seems like a good time to revisit these collected works, and reconfirms my opinion that people will tell you anything.

What you may classify, in today’s parlance, as oversharing or TMI is pure gold for a writer. You never know when you’ll need an offhand comment like, “My grandchildren all sound like outlaws or whaling ships: Sophie Morgan. Casey Jackson. Wyatt James,” to punch up a scene. Or my friend’s house cleaners, a gay couple that comes while she’s at work, and routinely leaves complaint notes in the fridge saying, “Why don’t you get something decent to eat?” And while we’re on the subject of fridges, there’s my friend who told me she looked so terrible one day that she couldn’t go out in public. Instead, she went to the drive-through window at Krispy Kreme and bought four bottles of milk. Because she remembered that, as a child, Krispy Kreme had the best milk.

It pains me that I will likely never find a place to use this email: “Remind me to tell you the story some time about the husband of our class valedictorian (who herself picked her nose and ate it in class) who came to a hometown funeral and his tooth moved when he talked. I didn’t see it, but it was well reported by another friend.” Still, I’m comforted that, sooner or later, I’ll probably be able to fit in my Charleston friend’s road trip with her history-buff father to visit all the Civil War battlefields. But only the ones that the Confederacy won. So much for revisionist history. And Gettysburg.

Next time you make a move, stay focused on what’s really important and do what one friend did: While everything’s being wrapped, packed and stacked, draw a big smiley face on the box that has all the liquor in it.

Embarrassment tales are a dime a dozen, but here’s one I bet you won’t find in that long-gone “Was My Face Red” page in Reader’s Digest. The day after giving birth, a friend was immensely relieved when the doc came into her hospital room. She opened her gown, showed him her breasts and said, “I am sooo glad you’re here. My milk has come in and they hurt so badly and can you look at them and tell me if they’re normal and give me something for them?” The doctor looked at the floor for a long minute, then said, “I’m the pediatrician.”

But seriously, what is it about underwear? Stories tend from the mild — the friend who stained (OK, steeped) — all her heirloom linens in tea for the perfect antique shade, which was inspired by the memory of her mother boiling her bras when she came home from boarding school, to the lawyer who took off his blazer at work, not realizing a pair of underwear was stuck to the back of his shirt. Let that be a lesson to check your lint traps. Tricot has a natural affinity for non-iron Brooks Brothers shirts.

Underwear-related and completely unedited from the notebook original, this gem of a tail, I mean tale:

I know airport toilets are all about efficiency, but they are over-zealous. The best news is that every toilet I visited had seat covers plentiful, and I visited plenty between RDU, Dallas and Denver. So, I head for the toilet with 90 coats, backpack, luggage. As you disrobe, the toilet flushes because you’re moving. Then, I get the toilet cover assembled, and another auto-flush because you’re moving. Which creates the problem, because you’ve set the cover on the seat and it flushes the cover down, so you have to get another cover assembled. Of course it flushes again as you turn around to take off pants to sit down, but this time you’re holding the cover, but it keeps flushing forever and your cover is fairly mangled, so by that time you are holding it, trying to undo your pants and sit on it while it’s flushing, but still maintain sanitary integrity holding the seat cover and you sit down in a hurry still holding the seat cover that is trying to go down the toilet. It was exhausting and a complete waste of water.

And it’s only January. PS

Susan Kelly is a blithe spirit, author of several novels, and proud grandmother.

The Accidental Astrologer

The Happiness Project

With a little effort, the world’s a better place in 2019

By Astrid Stellanova

Buh-bye, 2018! It’s all in the rearview mirror now, right? Not quite, Star Children. We tripped right on out of trippy December, barreling straight for the yellow brick road of the New Year, but first a check-in question for the New Age: Were you really good for goodness sake or was it to look good in your selfies?

Think about it. In the cosmic sense, all those clicks, likes and dislikes, will be relegated to the basement of history faster than a smiley face.

No matter, there are 365 days to get things right or just a little righter. Aim to do something to make this ole world twirl with happiness. — Ad Astra, Astrid

Capricorn (December 22– January 19)

It may have burned your biscuits that you didn’t get something promised to you, and you can blame it on that ole buzzkill buzzard Saturn, who’s been making you toe the line since last year. But take heart, little Goat, because the stars sure do point to a better twist in the tale. Hang onto your shorts, Love Bug. Things are resolving faster than you can say stink on a stick.

Aquarius (January 20–February 18)

New year, new you — which is saying something for Aquarians. You have a new sense of resolve, and Birthday Guys and Gals, I’m picking up what you’re laying down. Don’t let anybody trap you in just old ways of thinking or acting. You know what you want, you have resolved to pursue change, and don’t let your critics get in your head and change your mind. If there’s a bigger birthday wish you’re dreaming of than that one, just pucker up and blow!

Pisces (February 19–March 20)

Well, Honey Bun, you’ve been up since the crack of noon saying you have a whole new brand to build. Who are you kidding? You are not a Kardashian. Honey, you are you — the you that everybody knows and loves doesn’t have to follow trends or trolls to roll with fabulousness.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

Oh, yeah. You want everybody but you to tend to their own knitting, but just look at what a tangled-up skein of yarn you have made. Now get it straightened out and don’t Tom Sawyer one of your many friends into fixing your mess. Word is you have a nice surprise soon after if you take care of business.

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

Stranger danger, Sugar, but only from burnout. It’s too people-y out there to venture forth. Stay in a little more, read a book, snuggle on the sofa and keep your own counsel. You have been struttin’ your stuff day and night; it wouldn’t hurt one iota to spend a night or two being a couch potato with a bag of Cheetos.

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

Make sure your brain is as sharp as your tongue this month, when you get to feeling a little challenged by those near and dear. It is possible you are over-reacting, Honey, or just plain acting for the love of drama. It is a good month for holding back a tee-ninesy bit.

Cancer (June 21– July 22)

You had a hissy fit with a tail on it, and what did it get you? You got to eat a slice of hypocrite pie, because the very thing you got so riled up about is something you have done to yourself. While all this played out, you didn’t notice something worth noting. Open your eyeballs.

Leo (July 23–August 22)

You know horse hockey when you step in it. And you stepped in it. But here we are with a new year, new view and an open path around all the traps you fell into last year. Step high, keep your eyes wide open and watch the horizon. Tall, dark and handsome (or be-yoo-tiful) is heading your way.

Virgo (August 23–September 22)

You felt out of whack. You were stressed. And it was a lot of piddlin’ things keeping you off your game. The things that kept you upside down were not of your own making. Clouds are clearing. Pretend you are already feeling better, Sweet Thing.

Libra (September 23– October 22)

Skedaddle and make sure you leave before you get invited out the door. You were innocent but ignored the signs that a sometimes friend wasn’t so friendly. They take some warming up to, and the heater went cold, so find new friends and move along as if it never even happened.

Scorpio (October 23–November 21)

You have big plans but your own stomping grounds aren’t so bad. Dollywood is fun, but right under your nose there are all kinds of possibilities, Sugar Foot. Many are fond of your wit and wisdom. Don’t let the familiar turn you away or off.

Sagittarius (November 22– December 21)

This year could be a wing dinger, Sugar. It happens to be one of your better ones. You’ve been busy taking up with all kinds of unusual occupations and friends, and that is a good thing. You will broaden your view, and have a whatchamadoodle of a time doing it.  PS

For years, Astrid Stellanova owned and operated Curl Up and Dye Beauty Salon in the boondocks of North Carolina until arthritic fingers and her popular astrological readings provoked a new career path. 

Sporting Life

Relief Guide

All’s well that ends well

By Tom Bryant

We were meandering around in the lobby of the old hotel like a couple of lost bird dogs. Bubba sidled over to me and said, “Well.”

“Well what? “ I replied.

“Where is that fool guide who’s supposed to take us sea ducking?”

“You got me. After that fiasco of a goose hunt this morning, he said he would have his man meet us here around lunch. It’s now 1 o’clock. Seems to me, it’s after lunch.”

“Coot, I don’t know how you always get us in messes like this.”

“What do you mean, me? It was your idea to bid on this guy at the auction.”

“I know, but he talked a good game. Maybe it is my fault, but you should have convinced me not to do it.”

“I tried, but your last gin and tonic had more influence than I did. Maybe he’ll show up. It’s early yet.”

We were on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, near the town of Easton to be exact, on a three-day Canada goose and sea duck hunt that Bubba had bought in an auction at our wildlife club. It wasn’t our first adventure in that part of the country. He and I had hunted on Bill Meyer’s plantation, Plimmhimon, on the banks of the Tred Avon River, and very successfully, I might add. But this misadventure only emphasized how good we had it at Bill’s farm.

Our early morning goose hunt was anticlimactic, to say the least. The night before, we had bunked at the fellow’s supposedly sumptuous clubhouse, which turned out to be a converted two-car garage attached to the good old boy’s house with bunks lined up along the wall. Bubba accused me of snoring; and a constant barrage of pillows, magazines and shoes kept me awake until he finally dozed off. Then an Amtrak train roaring through the front door couldn’t have awakened him.

The next morning we followed our learned guide in Bubba’s Land Rover as his old rattle trap of a pickup smoked down the road. We ended up at a long-ago picked cornfield that would have had a hard time supporting a field mouse, and a pit blind that needed re-brushing. This was our second day goose hunting, and our bag thus far: 0 for 2.

It didn’t take us long to settle in, and our guide said he was going to run over to his other farm to see if the geese were working there.

“Do you know what that means, Coot, other farm?” Bubba asked as the guide rattled away in his old pickup.

“Yeah, it means he’s going to town to get breakfast.”

“I’m going to catch up on some shut-eye. That snoring of yours kept me up all night. All the geese are probably down around Mattamuskeet anyway. Wake me if you hear anything.” Bubba made himself comfortable in a corner of the blind, and in no time, was dozing.

After about 30 minutes, as the sun was peeking over the horizon, I heard a lonesome goose calling in the far distance near the north tree line. I perked up and kept my eyes focused in that direction. In no time, three geese flew treetop high, heading toward the blind as if on a string.

“Bubba,” I whispered. I leaned over and grabbed his boot. I hadn’t even loaded my gun, so I was rapidly pushing shells into the magazine and shucked one down the pipe, ready to go. Bubba looked over at me and I said, “Get ready. You here to sleep or shoot?”

Bubba looked at me bleary-eyed and grabbed his gun. By then, the three geese were right in front of the blind, gaining altitude, heading to parts unknown. We stood, fired, and all three hit the ground.

We climbed out of the pit to retrieve the geese and Bubba said, “Coot, these are the three unluckiest geese in Maryland. They just happened to fly our way. Did you see how they flared when they saw those decoys? If this fellow, our guide, is a goose hunter, then I’m a brain surgeon.”  We put the geese in the blind and rearranged the decoys. “These decoys haven’t been moved since the season opened. When that guy comes back, I might shoot him.”

As the morning dragged on, our guide finally did show up. He was ecstatic that we had bagged three geese. “I saw several working over at the other farm, but they headed out over the river in the other direction.”

“Yeah, right,” I thought.  Bubba grimaced and didn’t say a word.

We spent the next hour with very little conversation, and after a bit, the guide said, “Well, fellows, we’ve got two options for the afternoon. You can come back here and try out the geese as they come in to feed, or I’ve got a fellow who will take you sea ducking. Your choice.”

Bubba answered, “You know what? We’re gonna get an early start in the morning, so here’s what we’ll do. We’ll go back to the lodge, load up our gear, find a couple of hotel rooms and meet your sea duck guide. We can clean the geese and have lunch while we wait. All you need to do is tell us where to meet this fellow.”

Bubba’s impromptu plan worked great. The hotel where we booked two rooms was right on the bay and had a marina where we assumed our sea duck guide kept his boat.

We were still in the lobby of the hotel commiserating about our lack of a guide when this young fellow came over to us and said, “I heard you guys talking about wanting to go sea ducking.”

“Absolutely,” Bubba said. “We didn’t think you were going to show up.”

“I’m not the guide you’re looking for, but I can sure take you hunting. If you haven’t been before, it’s quite an experience.”

He was right. It was unlike any other waterfowl hunting Bubba and I had ever done; and thanks to the young fellow and his boat, we had a grand time. We found out that he was leaving the very next morning for Alaska, where his uncle had a fishing lodge. He said he would probably get there in time for the opening of the season.

We also learned that he was, as he put it, “Fifty percent American Indian. I’m not particularly politically correct with this Native American thing. I’m proud to be part Indian.”

On the drive home, Bubba was in an unusually pensive mood as we talked about the trip and the lack of honesty shown by our goose-hunting host. We never did find out what happened to his sea duck hunting guide.

“And look at you, Coot, getting those two oldsquaw ducks. They’re gonna look good hanging on your wall.”

Bubba was right. They are two of my favorite duck mounts, though the oldsquaw name has been replaced, changed to “long-tailed duck” in deference to Native Americans. By any measure, they bring back wonderful memories of an unexpected guide who loved his heritage.  PS

Tom Bryant, a Southern Pines resident, is a lifelong outdoorsman and PineStraw’s Sporting Life columnist.