Category Archives: nature

Whether the Suck or the Kettle, it Was My Home

If you were to go there today, what you would find is something far different from the place I knew growing up. The community on the Tennessee River is known by a name going back to the days of the settlers, Suck Creek.

If you are unfamiliar with this small section on the Tennessee River just outside of downtown Chattanooga, you may think the name is funny. However, the “suck” or “kettle” was a whirlpool formed by the water from Suck Creek flowing rapidly into the river. It was a serious obstacle to maritime travel.

Family History

My paternal great grandfather, along with his sons, hoboed a train out of Rainbow City, Alabama, and wound up in Tennessee. When he first got here, he went to work in the mountain above Suck Creek as a logger. From what I’ve been told, they didn’t have much and even slept in tents.

But sometime in the 1940’s my great grandfather and my grandfather built my grandparents’ house. It was small, but so well-built you could probably roll it down a hill and it would stay intact! They constructed it out of wood they milled themselves, all true 2×4’s and tongue-in-groove pine. The pine was so hard that when my dad tried to do some remodeling, the saw blades got stuck or broke!

The house that my grandfather built – the one in which my grandmother, my dad, and my uncle would live, too – was in a spot looking down into the Tennessee River Gorge (or Cash Canyon) and right above Suck Creek.

Below is a painting I just finished today. It’s a view of the river as might be seen from the front yard of our house. All I did was leave out houses and “progress” and imagined what it might have looked like 150 years ago.

“Suck Creek as Seen from Home” (acrylic on canvas)

The Whirlpool and Early-American History

But getting back to the story of the whirlpool, most people are unaware of how in 1780 it temporarily trapped the Donelson party. You see, in 1779 John Donelson (co-founder of Nashville) took a large party of settlers in a group of flatboats down the Tennessee River. They were heading to Fort Nashborough on the Cumberland River. But all along the way they were harassed by Cherokee and Chickasaw.

When the Donalson part reached the place where Suck Creek flowed into the Tennessee River, the flat on which Donelson and his family traveled became stuck in the whirlpool. This meant that they became stationary targets, and the result was one death, besides other injuries. The following quote is from an extensive article in Wikipedia.

“Several miles downriver, beginning with the obstruction known as the Suck or the Kettle, the party was fired upon throughout their passage through the Tennessee River Gorge (Cash Canyon); one person died and several were wounded.”

Wikipedia

Skip forward 70-80 years to the Civil War era. Photos and etchings exist of steam-powered paddle-wheelers being tethered to ropes and winched (warped) close to the riverbank in order to avoid the powerful whirlpool.

“Antique illustration of a steamer on the Tennessee River at the mouth of Suck Creek. Engraving published in Picturesque America (D. Appleton & Co., New York, 1872).”

These Days

So, what about Suck Creek these days? Well, to begin with, back in the early 1900’s the government began constructing hydro-electric power dams along the river. These dams raised the water levels of the river just enough to negate the whirlpool and make river travel easier. However, whenever there are torrential rains that cause the creek to swell and flow rapidly into the river, a whirlpool does form, only not as powerful.

And as to how it’s changed since I grew up there? Let’s just say that the old homesteads and property along the river that once belonged to my relatives is no more. Gone are the old shacks. Gone are the front porches where folk would sit and play guitars and banjoes. Gone are the remnants of the long-abandoned moonshine stills. Now all you will find are million-dollar homes, boat docks, and a view that still beats most I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and the old house where I grew up is actually still there! One of my cousins owns it and refuses to sell, even though he’s been offered enough to live comfortably for a long time.

Sometimes a view is worth more than all the money in the world.

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Filed under America, Family, nature, places

A Popular Painting: Doolittle Pond

You know, it was just a year ago that I started painting in earnest. Up until then I only drew stuff for fun, other than when I illustrated the stories in my school bus book.

However, a recent painting I completed for a client (a commissioned work) has stirred a lot of response. On one Facebook page it’s garnered over 2,100 likes and 631 comments! It is a painting of an actual pond in Sandersville, Georgia, called Doolittle Pond. If you Google it you will find it on just about any Georgia map.

The painting is of the south side of the pond where a couple of old structures dating back to the 1800’s still stand. The actual property is a little more wooded and shady, but he wanted me to “clean up” the view so that the buildings could be seen clearly.

Instead of the cold-pressed paper I usually use for watercolor or Gouache, I went with a 12’x24″ stretched canvas made for watercolor. I am glad I did because the pond – the water part – was a real challenge! I had to “erase” it and redo it 3 times before I was happy!!

Needless to say, I put FAR more hours into this than I planned. The agreed price doesn’t even come close to what it’s worth, really. The owner is getting a steal of a deal 😉

But if you like it, you can contact me via email (pastoracbaker@yahoo.com) and I can provide options and pricing for prints. You can also follow me on Facebook at @AnthonyCBakerArt and/or my website (under development) WallHoleCoverings.com.

AND, if you’d like for me to paint something for you, I’m always willing to negotiate – especially for a watch 🙂

“Doolittle Pond” 12×24″ Watercolor & Gouache on stretched canvas

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Matt. 5:16

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Oh Look! It’s a…

Good morning, friends! It’s Friday!

(cue the OLD Rebecca Black song – the remake is vulgar and sick).

Like I said in a previous post, I am not writing as much due to a lot of other responsibilities and the deadline I’m facing for my degree. However, as I was waking up this morning a thought crossed my mind that I thought I would share with you.

But be warned: this may trigger somebody.


Humans and Animals

I am not an atheist nor an evolutionist. On the other hand, I am keenly aware that many, many are. And what I have heard from so many of them is that humans are no different than any other animal. Am I wrong? Is that not what they say?

Now, to a certain degree I would agree with them. And I would hope that they would have a good explanation for things like altruistic love, self-awareness, higher purpose, and the fact that 99.9% of us don’t eat our young.

But there is something more basic that we all do, creationist and atheist alike… We check our puppies and kittens the same way. Keep reading.

Puppies and Kittens

It doesn’t have to be just dogs and cats; it could be a whole zoo full of critters. The point I am going to make is that whatever it is, when we first pick them up, we almost always ask a basic, fundamental question: Is it a boy or a girl?

Photo by bill emrich on Pexels.com

Granted, the way you check chickens and snakes might be different, but when it comes to most animals, especially little dogs and kittens, you pick them up, lift their tail or look at their belly, and search for a puppy pencil (penis).

If you don’t see anything protruding, you say, “It’s a little girl!” If you see a lipstick case, you say, “Oh, look! It’s a boy!

Modern Puppies and Kittens

The problem we are having now is that any time we pick up the little yard animals to check if they are boys or girls (male or female), we are running the risk of being sued by the kennel.

You see, even though you pick up a puppy and may immediately see the lid off the lipstick, assuming that puppy is a boy is an act of violence – you are attacking it with your pronouns. Fact is, regardless the genitalia, we have no way of knowing how that puppy or kitten identifies. We must wait until it squats or hikes its leg before we fill out its papers.

Further complicating things, there’s the issue of breeding. How many times have we simply assumed that putting a “male” and “female” whatever into a box would result in a litter of look-a-likes? Fact is, many of those times we did this with our German Shepherds and didn’t get a “match,” the problem might have been an offended, pronoun-assaulted hound with unrecognized identity issues!

Animals, or Not?

So, that brings me back full circle to the Creationist/Atheist comment. Are we animals, or not? If so, if we are no different from the rest of the cast of “Lion King,” singing “The Circle of Life” as we accept our fate as feline food, then why all the confusion? Why not just call it when you see it?

Personally, I think we are more than simply animals, just as I believe we were created in the image of God, similar in many ways, but distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom.

It’s just that either way – made in God’s image as male and female or nothing more than bipedal, hunting/gathering apes – there’s little basis for kennel to be co-ed.

Those are my thoughts for this Friday. Have a great weekend!

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Filed under animals, Culture Wars, General Observations, nature, politics

Some Places Never Leave You, Even After You Leave Them

This a view from Edwards Point, the mountain bluff above where I grew up and the pinnacle of every hiking trip I made as a kid.

This is the Tennessee River Gorge. Just across the river is Elder Mountain, where my grandfather hid from revenuers.

To the right is Prentice Cooper Game Reserve. The Cumberland Trail weaves its way through there, down from the top of the mountain, down across the creek, then up to where this scene depicts.

I grew up in the community of Suck Creek. Just out of view, just below the rock bluff, the creek would feed the river. Up until a hundred or so years ago, during hard rain the creek and the river would create a powerful whirlpool capable of pulling small boats under and stopping paddle wheelers.

It was only after a system of dams were built along the Tennessee River (operated by TVA), that the river was tamed enough for safe navigation.

This is also where my Cherokee ancestors on my paternal grandmother’s side resided. They were the ones who actually attacked the early settlers of Nashville when their boats were stuck in the “suck.”

The mountains and the river will always be in my blood. The peaceful drift of the water. The fresh air of old-growth forests. The legends and unforgettable scary bedtime stories from the old-timers.

Unfortunately, much has changed over the last decade. Much of where I spent my childhood and teen years are unrecognizable. Time has exacted a heavy toll from both progress and neglect. And where there was family land that outsiders feared to visit, now there’s million-dollar homes where outsiders moved to “preserve” the beauty.

Yet, I still remember. I still dream. I still imagine. That will never change. Time will only make the memories sweeter and the stories even better.

I may have left, but it’s never left me.

View from Edward’s Point, Signal Mountain, TN

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Filed under community, Family, History, nature, old age, maturity

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: “Visitation”

This is the view from my windshield as I was leaving the home of a church member.

Honestly, I miss the internet speeds of Gig City (Chattanooga), but you can have the traffic and the hustle.

This is where I belong, now.

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Filed under America, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Church, community, ministry, nature, places

Not Just a Magnificent Double Rainbow

Taken with my iPhone 11 on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 in Chattanooga, TN.

How many things are more impressive than a huge end-to-end double rainbow after a major downpour?

Can’t think of many.

But how many even know what a rainbow is? It’s not simply a beautiful phenomenon or the symbol of a social advocacy movement.

It’s a PROMISE!
Genesis 9:12-17 (NLT) 12 Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. 13 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” 17 Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.”

What if it’s a double rainbow? My guess is God needed a little extra reminding today.

 

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Filed under America, current events, grace, Love of God, nature

Purple Flowers

I painted this picture on a greeting card.

It’s called “Purple Flowers.”

It is based on a previous photo I took while walking.

Photographed in natural light with my iPhone 10s.

I will be mailing the card out to a member of our church. I do this on a regular basis in order to encourage our church family. 

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