Winding Ways of the Road
So yesterday morning I set out from southwest Virginia from Sam and Susans' fantastic 200-year-old poplar and wormy chestnut two-story log cabin and headed down 19E to visit my friends Bill and Janice down near Roan Mountain. Bill has a junkyard and you never know what you'll find there, but there he was pulling parts out of old trucks and stuff. Janice and I sat in their living room trying to find some comfort in the wake of the full-bore fans but they never quite cooled us from that hot Tennessee afternoon. Later, we all headed up the mountain toward North Carolina on Route 321 to a place I've forgotten the name of but what I did remember was that I actually had a $1.79 grilled cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato and I can't think of the last time I paid that little for a nice sandwich, maybe back in Salyersville Kentucky (home of Charlie Sizemore) about 20 years ago.
Anyway, we said our goodbyes after a nice meal and I headed on up the mountain past the place the Old Crow Medicine Show used to live a few years back before they hit it big-time on the national Americana scene....those boys used to be good pals of mine way back then. Anyway, these places in the road hold memories and so I relived a few yesterday at the log cabin, at Bill & Janice's, passing over the NC line an onto 421 and so forth.
Through Boone, a really cool town, and on through Wilkesboro to visit my friend Becky who's about to move to eastern Kentucky (lucky girl). WELL...the drive was superb. It was that time of day when the light goes all golden and then flushes orangey and finally into a rich pink. The sun was this huge glowing orb in the sky behind me (yeah I was lucky I was heading east) as I wound through North Carolina past farmers doing what they've done so well for as long as I can remember - making hay while the sun shines (at nearly 100 degrees it surely was shining). Is there anything that smell better than freshly cut hay? Perhaps, but I'll have to say that it's one of my very favorite scents. Maybe it brings back those memories of summer days on Grandpa's farm proving my mettle as I threw those rectangular bales (I tried to make it look effortless but I was a small and skinny kid) up on the hay wagon. I remembered meeting this old boy who had a big tote sack on his back and when I asked him what was in it he said he was frog giggin', still not sure what that meant exactly but I reckon it meant he caught frogs and then cut off their legs to eat, or sold them to someone else who did.
The sunset was spectacular and I felt myself longing to stay on the road awhile longer, but I was already nearly two hours later than I'd said I'd be getting to Becky's. There's just something so special and fulfilling about driving through farm country in the mountains as the day draws to a close with the windows open, all alone, listening to soaring music by Eva Cassidy (if you don't know her music, check her out!) and Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole...geez, I'm turning into my parents (they always said it would happen). But back to that feeling.....ever had it? It's at once the most exhilarating, "free" feeling to be out on a steep, winding road alone, all by choice, listening to music you love, yet little twinges of lonesomeness may break through, just for a moment, and you sort of wish there were someone there to share all these sights and sounds with, someone to talk to. 'Course that would change it all, wouldn't it? So I'll just say how full I felt to be FREE - to start, to stop, to listen, to breathe, to watch, to smell. Life is good.
Later, I pulled up to Becky's and found that she'd decided to invite a few friends over and as I walked through the door there was a jam session underway which I soon joined. We had a nice meal of some cheese pasta and fresh tomatoes and herbs - yum, yum (never mind I'm on a low carb diet). It was a nice evening. And a big surprise for me was that old pals Charlie and MJ were here, too, down from their home in Virginia to greet me.
Life alone is just fine with me but it is the company of friends and the sounds of good music, the sights of life in the countryside and those timeless scents like that of horses and new-mown hay that bind it all together and make it joyful.