Thanksgiving Day has come and gone but certainly we are not prohibited by law from continuing to express our thanks for all things great and good.
Therefore, I declare that all of us are lucky and hopefully thankful to live in a free country where we can basically come and go as we wish.
(I personally do not see that particular freedom ending anytime soon, even if certain naysayers among us seem certain that the government, due to the recent national election, is about to send a militia group to arrest us. Where would they take all of us?)
More talented regular columnists for The Herald have amply reported on what they were most appreciative for during this 2012 season of thanks — everything from Thanksgiving Day gatherings with family, traveling mercies, quality cornbread or oyster dressing to go along with Tom Turkey and the opportunity in nearby woods to bag some venison for the table on Christmas, the most blessed of holidays.
I hope nobody was very proud of the fact that there really was no “Black Friday” shopping day this year because some big-box retailers, and you know their names, opened up Thanksgiving night. I realize that these shops have suffered during the awful economic times of the last few years, but was that truly necessary to keep the doors open?
On a recent trip to Albany, I was struck with thankfulness and awe for the beauty of the countryside in that drive of about 55 miles — from between Blakely and Fort Gaines to Bluffton, Edison and Dickey and on to the big city. For true uniqueness, stop in at Mr. Sinquefield’s country store before crossing the Ichawaynochaway at Cordrays Mill.
Mid-November is the perfect time to venture to these hinterlands and enjoy the glories of Mother Nature. Perhaps it’s not comparable to fall in New England, but there is plenty of natural beauty on the route. An example is the eastern end of Mount Calvary Road in extreme southern Clay County, from Simmons Road to the Bluffton-Fort Gaines Road, where the pavement turns to Georgia red clay at its finest. The colorful verdure of myriad trees and wildly hanging vines should be useful material for any self-respecting oil painter.
There are fields of cotton, some picked and others yet-to-be, whose white gold provides a scenic backdrop to fashionable Greek Revivals and worn-down, worn-out shacks that were home-sweet-home for farm families until yielding to the hostile effects of time and weather. A sideshow is available at the local gin, whose yard is heavily occupied with the yellow slip-covered square and round modules of fiber waiting to be ginned and moved on to world textile markets.
Pay attention to the vast manicured groves of pecans across the whole route in this, the number one nut-producing region in the country. Notice also the earthy fields where the peanut crop that made us proud once rested, blending in spectacularly with the blazing tinctures of pines, oaks, maples, cypress and cedars.
Grab a camera and go now to see these wonders of Southwest Georgia for yourself. And to the landowners, in the spirit of the season: Thanks in advance for all courtesies.
Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.