White Squirrels, Red Birds and the Man in Black

Team Galapagos has been enjoying a few days in Martin, Tennessee, my ancestral home. We came to celebrate my mother’s birthday, see family and to visit my old stomping grounds.

As you probably already know, Martin is home to the Tennessee Soybean Festival. I don’t have to tell you how important the soybean is to West Tennessee.

soybean-logo-wide1 Here’s a fun soybean fact: One acre of soybeans can produce 82,368 crayons. There are probably some other interesting things about soybeans.

On the drive from Nashville to Martin, we stopped at a rest area just east of Bucksnort.  I mention this because the rest area had this photo above the water fountain.

The Man in Black

The Man in Black

I’ve been a Johnny Cash fan since I was a small child. This seems odd to me now and I think it worried my parents a bit but even then, I knew this was the music of my people. I don’t care for country music but I love me some Johnny Cash. Apparently, the folks that take care of the rest area are big fans as well.

I found another soybean fact: Elevators in the Statue of Liberty use a soybean-based hydraulic fluid.  That’s two interesting things about soybeans now.

Living in the Pacific Northwest,  we are surrounded by so much natural beauty that it is hard not to be a little stuck up about it.  Still, West Tennessee is not without its charm.  Even in winter, we are enjoying the crisp, sunny weather and the wide open fields. This is bottom country, with creeks and rivers cutting across the land and running towards the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers. The fields are bare for now, but this spring you can bet there will be soybeans as far as the eye can see!

Melissa and I have enjoyed seeing wildlife that we never see in Washington State.  As soon as we got to my mother’s house we spotted two beautiful cardinals

DSCN1522 We have mockingbirds here as well but they seem to be laying low this time of year.

As we drove to Dyer for my mother’s birthday party, we got to see the fabled white squirrels of Kenton. For some reason, there is a fairly large population of albino squirrels in this community.  As we drove through, we were able to photograph a few.

The noble white squirrel

The noble white squirrel

It is an odd adaptation but I suppose the population thrives because their cuteness slightly outweighs the fact that they are incredibly easy prey for owls and hawks. Or perhaps they are the predators.  I took the photo below, barely escaping with my life after this guy charged me.

Lunging Squirrel with little sharp fangs!

Lunging Squirrel with little sharp fangs!

We will head to Nashville soon and spend some time with my sister there.  Then it is back to the rainy Pacific Northwest, where the birds are bald and the squirrels are gray.

4 thoughts on “White Squirrels, Red Birds and the Man in Black

  1. I may be going out on a limb here, but I’ll bet I’m one of your only sailing blog acquaintences who has been to Bucksnort ! And thanks for the photo of the cardinal (Kentucky state bird)… I’d almost forgotten how beautiful they are in winter.

    • You are in a very exclusive club of Little Cunning Plan readers that are familiar with Bucksnort. Mouse Tail Landing State Park is nearby and even I could not recall that interesting place name. It is one of the pleasures of travel to learn how people create their own sense of place in the world.

  2. Those ghost squirrels look nasty. Eating tofu and thinking it can also be used as hydraulic fluid is not very appetizing but that is an interesting fact. I too am not a country music fan but my iPod has many JC tunes and that only happened in the last 20 yrs, so I’m thinking I just related to his music as I got older.

    • Johnny has definitely aged well and his contributions to music extend so far beyond the conventional notions of what country music. He is up there with Gershwin, Hank Williams and Ray Charles. The fact that the photo was above the water fountain at a nondescript highway rest stop made me smile. Everybody thinks of Elvis as having the dominant position in the pantheon of musicians in this area, but Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins are right up there.

      Melissa and I spent the night in Nashville before driving in to Martin. Music is everywhere here. At dinner that evening and then again at breakfast the next morning, we had live music. Our breakfast at a small coffee shop run as a program to help women who have been in prostitution and human trafficking (Thistle Stop Cafe) was accompanied by a young woman that comes in to play for her own pleasure and ours too.

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