Georgia On My Mind

February 24, 2019

Yeah, ok, so it’s been over a year since I’ve posted on my blog. I’m still here, though there are some I know who wish I were not.  🙂  I’m planning on being around for a bit longer. I just can’t guarantee how often I’ll land here. One day at a time.

It’s one of those days for reminiscing. Southern Vermont, a winter of snow, thaw, rain, ice, more snow, thaw, rain. Who knows what’s next. Going on 33 years in this state and I have never seen anything like it before. Humans are changing the climate, people! Let’s all try to do our part.

That’s not what I’m here for today. I’m here to share some sweet, happy, and heart-warming reminiscing. I hope all my readers have moments like this in your life.

Earlier today, I was outside for a couple of hours with my pickaxe chopping ditches in the ice to channel water away from my home and cottage. They both lie at the north end of a south to north downward slope on my property. I came inside, lit a deliciously warm and inviting fire in my fireplace and opened my email for one short moment. While I was outside hacking at the ice I was thinking back to 2016 when I lived in the REPUBLIC of Georgia. That’s NOT the state of Georgia that some of my readers may be a little more well-acquainted with. I worked there as a management advisor to a peace institute, the International Center for Peace and Integration. While I was hacking at the frozen ground, for some reason I started to reminisce about Georgia – (The Republic of) Georgia… on my mind. When I opened my email in front of my cozy fire what was the first note that popped up? Nothing other than one from my dear friend and professional colleague, Natali Kenkadze. Please take some time to watch her inspiring Tedx talk by clicking on her hyperlinked name. Her email warmed my heart more than anything the heat of my fireplace could do.

Natali got me thinking… she’s had me thinking, actually. We met in NYC this past December when she was attending a U.N. conference. She accompanied me to Vermont where I had the pleasure of sharing my beautiful state with her and spending some of the most splendid time of 2018 with a dear, dear friend. Incidentally, I will be opening a photographic exhibit of 16 select photos – from thousands, I took – at the Crowell Gallery of the Moore Free Library in Newfane, Vermont, on March 2. I got to thinking there are so many photos from Georgia (THE Republic of) I have never shared with anyone. I decided to share some of them here today.

So, with no further ado, travel with me through my reminiscings as I share my warm heart and happy memories of a country that will always have a place in my heart.

Clockwise from top left:

(1) Steve with the management team of the International Center for Peace and Integration: Gvantsa, Ani, Me, NATALI, Ana, Gocha, Khatuna (and her sweet daughter); (2) Traditional Georgian Dancing to rock n’ roll at an ICPI party; (3) A traditional Georgian dancer; (4) Selling fruit by the side of the road in Kazbeghi, on the Russian border; (5) My chacha friends (you’ll have to look up “chacha” on the web to learn more – hint: search on ‘Georgian chacha’


Waiting for Stalin

I’ve called this photo ‘Waiting for Stalin’ because I met these women outside the Stalin museum in Gori, the home of Stalin. At their age, they undoubtedly had so many memories to share. Unfortunately, because they did not speak English and my Georgian was limited to ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, and ‘where is the restroom?’ I could not converse with them, though I so much wanted to!

The back streets of Tbilisi – my favorite places to while away my time (and I spent a lot of time doing so). If only the walls, windows, twisted gates, hanging laundry, and cobblestone streets could talk – and sometimes the walls did talk.


And one of my favorite places to stop and pick up a bag of popcorn for less than twenty-five cents (while I wandered the streets) was the popcorn vendor on Rustaveli Boulevard.


I visited this sacred church in Mtskheta several times. Each time I stepped inside I walked to this corner and pondered, “What is it like to be a monk in this 6th-century building that has so many stories in its soil and stone?”

As a mostly landscape photographer, I will let these last few images speak for themselves. If you wish to learn more, do an internet search.


Dmanisi – house on the hill


Dmanisi – castle ruins and Orthodox Church


The hike to Gergeti Trinity Orthodox Church and Monastery, Kazbeghi (Russian border)


Enchanted moss-covered forest, outside of Kutaisi


Doorways into doorways


Have you looked up chacha on the internet?

Beware, the day after!

Watch Ray Charles sing the most beautiful rendition of ‘Georgia On My Mind’ here.


Georgia, Georgia
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)
I said Georgia
A song of you
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
I said Georgia
Ooh Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
Whoa, Georgia
No peace, no peace I find
Just this old, sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
I said just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind

Be well, my friends. Sending blessing and warmth!




All content copyrighted ©Stephen Tavella

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