I Knew A Man

I knew a man, who was bright, funny and caring. He loved music, movies and a good time with friends. He was the guy who would rearrange his schedule to be there for you. He was they guy who was always available to help you move or fix a car. He was the guy who suffered the loss of a brother at young age. He was a guy who loved his mother and shunned prejudice.

I knew a guy who loved babies, dogs and kids, a man who was quick with a hug. When others failed to recognize I was floundering he was the guy who asked me if I was ok, warned me away from his friend and hugged me.  He is the guy who encouraged me to give my marriage another chance, he was right.

He is the guy I introduced to one of my best friends, thinking they may hit it off. I was right. Sparks flew, they met and never parted for a single day after that. They married and had a child. He was a good dad, he loved his wife.

I knew a man who like to party and trusted others. He tried heroin, he was hooked. He battled for years to keep his family, but failed. He was a man alone as his ex-wife cared for their son in a safe environment.

I knew a man who couldn’t kick the addiction.  It had him and wouldn’t let him go. He fought, and won small battles, but lost the war. It took his life this week and all I can see is him asking me if I was alright before taking me in his large arms for a hug.

R.I.P. Mike. I will never forget your kindness and will forever mourn the fact that you couldn’t be as good to yourself as you were to others.

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Morning of the Hawk

It was a typical Friday morning. My hubby, (who works third shift) was sound asleep, the kids were at school, the animals were fed and I was alone with the quiet. Not ready to tackle chores or a new painting I wandered through my wooded lot, stopping when I noticed something out-of-place on the roof of my garage.

I say garage, but it is actually the end of a barn whose roof if only a few feet over my head. I stopped dead in my tracks when I noticed a pair of intense eyes staring down at me. Hovering over the edge of my roof was a Broad Wing Hawk about sixteen inches tall. I froze in place, returning the hawks gaze as I took in its beauty. I talked to it like an idiot, expecting it to understand that I appreciated its beauty and that it was welcome to use my wooded lot and buildings at any time.

After staring for what felt like a frozen moment in time, I said goodbye and moved toward the back of my lot as the hawk swiveled its head, watching me from behind its lethal looking beak. Noticing a ray of sun warming the chairs surrounding the site of our campfires I scurried over and closed my eyes, reveling in the heat and healing vibes of my yard.

Minutes later a sound yanked me out of my revelry. It was like a loud rustling and flapping rolled into one. A metallic clank followed as the loose hairs around my forehead fluttered in an unexpected breeze. Springing to attention I was shocked to find that the hawk had landed on the back of the wrought iron chair next to mine, a mere twenty-four inches away.

Afraid to move for fear of scaring it off I let my eyes absorb the experience. I marveled at the size of its talons gripping the chair back. I checked out the feather pants adorning the top of its legs and the graceful curve of its body, wings and tail. I noticed it’s aroma. While not overtly offensive, it was not one I would want in my house.

I peered over the bent, wicked looking beak, into a pair of bright yellow eyes that were scanning my face. We sat like that for a good five minutes. From time to time the hawk would pace back and forth on its perch, or it would extend its neck feathers and shake its head, but it never let its gaze stray from me for more than a second.

A high-pitched screech above our heads drew the hawks attention. After emitting a few answering shrieks it took to the air to join what I assume was its mate. Just like that it was over. This was a short encounter, but one I will treasure forever.

It turns out that this pair of hawks is nesting at the edge of the Cuyahoga river across the road from my home. I often see this hawk and it’s mate glide over-head in search of dinner but there hasn’t been another “meeting.”

For that brief period of time, I felt like the luckiest person on earth.

C2012 Jane Kohler

All that is Cleveland Ohio – It’s a Good Thing.

Ohio, Cleveland in particular has been raked over the late night comic coals for years. When will people stop making jokes about the fire on the Cuyahoga river? The last fire was in 1969 people! Give it up. It was one incident that mirrored the collective thinking of the day. Run your factory, dump your waste into the river and move on was a phenomenon taking place all over the country, yet Cleveland seems to be the one forever embedded the countries collective memory. Thankfully the story drew attention to the problem and many investigations spurred changes to the laws regulating our natural resources.

I am happy to report our rivers are clean and thriving with wildlife. You can fish off a handy pier or swim, jet ski, water ski or sit and dangle your feet in the water as you bird watch. You can take a trip on the GoodTime III and tour the sites nestled against the mighty Cuyahoga River. Our water ways and marshes are full of loons, cranes, eagles, owls, song birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

We are proud of our “Emerald Necklace,” a connected series of undeveloped land designated as state parks that travel from one end of the state to the other. I am lucky that a short five-minute drive will place me smack dab in the center of these habitats. We have free access to over twenty-one thousand untainted acres of wilderness where we can walk, hike, ride bikes, go horse back riding, swim, fish, take structured nature hikes, learn about local flora and fauna or just lay out a blanket and read. A short drive from anywhere will have you immersed in nature, marsh life, wet lands, bird sanctuaries, spawning Salmon, rivers, lakes and local animals. Lose yourself in majestic trees, hidden trails, bubbling creeks or challenge yourself on an intense hike over foothills and rough terrain. This vast amount of protected landscape is a true gift given by our forward-thinking elders.

If nature is not on my agenda I can hop on I71 and be in Cleveland proper in under twenty minutes. There you can visit the West Side Market for the freshest produce, meat, cheese, bread and anything else you can think of to eat or cook with.

I can attend festivals that honor our many immigrants, their food, art, dance, drink, clothing and culture.
In one trip I can tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the submarine S.S. Cod or the restored ship known as the William G. Mather.

If I am looking for education, I can go to Baldwin Wallace University, Kent State, Ohio State, Miami University and many others. I can also hone my skills at Cleveland State, Tri-C or the Cleveland Institute of Art.

A single square mile known as University circle is filled with world-class centers of education, medical training and arts & cultural institutions like the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Museum of Art, the Botanical Gardens, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Institute of Art, Severance Hall, the Cleveland Orchestra, Western Reserve Historical Society, Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, The Children’s Museum, James A. Garfield Memorial and Cleveland School of the Arts, all a mere four miles from downtown Cleveland.

In the mood for a fantastic stage show or a good movie? Head to Playhouse Square, the home of magnificent theaters restored to their former glory. Here you will find the Allen, Hanna, Ohio, State, Palace, Westfield, 14th and Kennedy theater. You can experience Broadway, comedy, concerts, dance, plays, opera, family shows and more, all available by car or public transportation.

Lake Erie is surrounded by miles of beaches from Sandusky to Ashtabula. Countless protected areas provide swimming, boating, fishing, diving and anything else you can do in the water. Picnic and camping areas retain a small town feel while offering convenient perks.

Medical experts at the top of their game call Cleveland home. People from all over the globe turn to Cleveland for treatment.

I can turn one way when I leave my drive to experience downtown and all it has to offer in less than twenty-minutes. Or…I can turn the other way and find myself driving simple two lane roads dotted with farms and forests, stopping now and then for a garage sale, flea market, wineries, farmers market, ice-cream or a home cooked meal at a mom and pop eatery.

I have it all! Clean beaches, education, entertainment, nature preserves, foothills and rivers. I can attend local theater at our college or take in big name stars performing in Playhouse Square. We even have a few drive-in theaters up and running, talk about a treat!

I have traveled over this country and I spent time at places I felt I could stay in forever. The U.S.A. has a lot to offer, but I find that what I need is right under my nose. When you hear the name “Cleveland,” I want you to think theater, mixed cultures, music, NASA, public assistant programs, farmland, architecture, nature and good people doing their best to improve their environment.

c2012 Jane Kohler

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