It’s Throwback Thursday, and I thought I’d share these photos from June of last year when Big Man and I climbed Stone Mountain. Our guide was a former colleague of mine whom I’ve adopted as a kind of surrogate grandfather to Big Man. We’ll call him Go-Pa. Go-Pa used to teach Math, build houses and did a stint in the Army back in the ’60s. Now retired, he is an avid nature and still-life photographer who regularly swims, bikes, travels and climbs.
Though I like to consider myself a bit of a “nature girl” and was actually the one who asked to tag along on Go-Pa’s hike, there were times during our adventure that I silently (and Big Man quite audibly) wanted to retreat to the cabana-covered picnic tables that we saw on our way up. Pretty sad since the hike took only about an hour. Yet my elder friend’s experience and patience (he didn’t seem to mind that our joining him doubled the time it would have taken him to climb solo) helped see us all through patches of woods, up slippery slopes and to the summit where we were able to see treetops and vistas of Atlanta.
One of the reasons I wanted to go on the climb was to teach Big Man a lesson– one that he’d feel in his muscles and bones– about endurance and pacing. I also wanted him to have a solid image in his memory bank of an active, intelligent and creative elder so that he knows that in time he can be that, too.
That said, below are a few of the other photos that we took during our climb and our grubbing on pizza at Fellini’s afterward.
Another highlight was roaming around Harlem a bit. Of course, we visited the Schomberg where we got to see some Aaron Douglas murals as well as a showing of Lois Mailou Jones’ work, both of whom were Harlem Renaissance artists whose work I fell in love with while taking African American art history in undergrad. The library made me sign a form promising not to circulate the photos I took of the murals; nevertheless, it was a thrill to see Douglas’ large scale works like this and to get up close to some of the small works of la grande dame, Madame Jones. As we were walking along 125th Street after leaving the Caribbean Cultural Center, I was taken by the outdoor stone carvings of Nigerian artist Adebisi Akanji outside of the National Black Theatre building. We ended our wanderings by treating our hungry bellies to a collard green-cornbread-lemonade lunch at Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster.
In keeping with my promise to post more about our summer visit to NYC, here is a photo of Big Man and me that I like. It’s of us in front of the Big John Cathedral which I learned about through Me and Momma and Big John, a picture storybook illustrated by Mara Rockliff. It’s a beautiful book that, through the story of one family, tells of a apprentice program that put formerly-unemployed NYC residents to work by training them to be, primarily, stonemasons. The cathedral also had arts programs that trained children to weave and make ceramics; was home to a theatre and dance troupe and an artist-in-residence who is also the resident tightrope walker (for more on this see also “Manhattan’s Medieval Masterpiece” by Michele Lansberg featured in 1989 issue of Reader’s Digest and printed here). I had to indulge my inner art nerd by paying a visit. Since Big Man seems inclined toward architecture or engineering, I thought he’d enjoy seeing it too. And he did. Even though we’ve not visited the National Cathedral in D.C. or the Nasir al Mulk mosque I include those photos in the collage as a reminder of the architectural kinship that exists between some of the most majestic churches, mosques and synagogues, Big John included.