Standing on the river’s edge of some foggy morning on the Flint, I noticed magnolias blooming in their full glory. And this moment of sudden, stolen silence transported me back to the days of my childhood, to a place I felt abandoned, when my father would take me away from the promises of the city to stay with my grandmother during the summer. She lived out in Baconton — roughly the middle of nowhere.
As soon as his car pulled away, I would stare down the dirt road until his car disappeared in a cloud of red dust, then suddenly feel alone in the country. Thinking to myself, how long will I be stuck out in this place of cows and pecan groves? Yet, somehow I found a humble spot where I belonged in the mornings, because out in my grandmother’s yard in the misty Georgia morning there stood a proud magnolia tree surrounded by miles of pecan trees in the grove. As silent, still broad verdant-bronze leaves held the gentle little-gems of white petals that were blooming in solitude, I wondered how could this be in a wilderness dominated by pecan trees?
This discovery led me to believe that perhaps there could be a place in the country for me to lean and learn the ways of wild serenity. I could finally let go this feeling of rural desolation and open my eyes to a greater world that stood before me. And I could find a place to dream nestled in the shade of a swing in the arms of the magnolia and feel the closeness of a big, blue sky.
There was no place like this in the city, until this morning when I found myself pondering the issues of my day while walking along the Flint and waiting for the morning mist to clear, when there appeared these brilliant magnolias on the other side of the river. Suddenly there were no worries, only a comfort that prevailed over my doubts for the coming day and a sense of how far I had come with a greater understanding of just how much I belong to this place.
Albany resident Cedrick Shelton is a Monroe High School and Morehouse College graduate with a degree in sociology.