What a beautiful morning it is here in Macon, Georgia. The birds are greeting the day with their spring song. The air and the earth are fresh from the nights steady rain. The temperature is just perfect for sleeping with the windows open although I sleep with them open even if it’s twenty degrees outside.
This weekend my sister Tricia invited me to go to a bluegrass festival with her and her husband on Saturday. The festival was held at a 1400 acre wildlife rehabilitation facility called Dauset Trails about thirty minutes north of Macon. The venue itself is something unique. They house and rehab injured or nuisance wild animals and the ones that can be reintroduced to the wild are. The ones that can no longer survive in the wild call this place home.
There is a bald eagle that can not fly. Several hawks and owls. Raccoons and bears and even a panther. All indigenous to Georgia. Yes we have panthers here. Not to mention the reptiles. We are famous for our swamp lands so you can just imagine what the reptile house is like.
Still we weren’t prepared for the mass of people that we saw in the parking lot. A lot of them were there just for the Easter egg hunt. But when you spread all those people out on 1400 acres there was plenty of room.
There were contraptions for kids to jump and climb on. There were arts and crafts for wives to spend their money on. There was barbecue and fried pig skins for the men to use their antacids on. There were babies in strollers and old folks in wheelchairs. There were long hairs and there were no hairs. There was even a confederate camp complete with confederate soldiers resplendent in their hot wool uniforms standing guard. Still fighting the ” war of northern aggression”. (that’s what we call it down here)
The music was something special. A stage set up deep in the pines with a huge American flag hanging behind it was the place where all the pickin’ and grinnin’ was done. Pure mountain music. No electric guitars and the only percussion was the stomping of the feet and clapping of the hands.
The name of the band was the Packway Handle Band. They have been playing in these parts for over twenty-five years. If you want to hear some clear pure music go to youtube and pull them up. There is a banjo, a stand up bass, a fiddle, a dulcimer, and a guitar. The only thing I thought they were missing was a harp (harmonica) and if I had taken mine I would have honked right a long with them.
But the most pure thing in that entire setting…more so than the harmonies…more than the animals…even more that the pines themselves was a little boy named Jackie. Jackie had snow white blonde hair and a smile that would make your heart speed up. He was dancing with his daddy bouncing to the music , twirling and laughing. We clapped our hands to the beat and cheered him on.
When the dance was over Jackie walked over and stood in front of my sister with both hands out. Inviting her to dance with him. Of course she did. When that song was over he came and stood in front of me. I was anxiously waiting for him to open up his arms offering me an invitation to dance. Then he just smiled at me and moved down the line to the next female. Go figure. This went on song after song until all the women had a chance to dance with this angel.
When we were getting ready to leave I looked around for Jackie. I wanted to thank him for reminding us how to have fun and maybe squeeze out a hug. He was fast asleep in his mothers lap. He was laying with his knees drawn up under him and his face flat on her stomach with a smile on his face.
Jackie had Down’s Syndrome. This little boys joy and hearty laugh reminded us all how lucky some people can be. What I mean by that is this little boys parents were some of the luckiest people in the world to have an angel from heaven in their lives like Jackie.