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Saturday, December 5, 2009


first snow

Out the window this morning everything was white. It looked like a wet snow sticking to rhododendron twigs and leaves, the sides of trees, whatever it touched when it landed, barbed wire, the tiniest twigs in the trees, pine needles. Maybe an inch and a half then. By now, after hours of little to no snow, it is pouring down, maybe 3 inches. The sky is white with falling snow. Out in the meadow the snow falls at about a 45 degree angle. Under the trees the snow falls straight down, filtering through the limbs and twigs already full to capacity. This morning started at 33 degrees, and by now, early afternoon, it is 29 degrees. The cold is coming on.

I drove Jr's car to the station this morning, first time to drive it in ice, slush and snow. I was glad for the opportunity to drive the car, Catfish, in snow, ice and slush. The car has front wheel drive, the next thing to 4wheel. I liked how it handled on the slippery roads. Scheduled Tuesday to get new tires. The tires on the car are at least 5 years old, possibly closer to 8. They have tread, but I want to go into winter with new tires. The car would have handled better today with new tires. I let it slip a few times to get a feel for it, and assessed that the slip threshold would be a little farther on with new tires. I have ways of feeling the road surface to see what it's like without threat of leaving the road or causing a ruckus. Like rolling along, touch the brake to see how it slides. The feel of the road I get from the slide gives me an understanding of the limitations.

A curve close to the house gives me a chance at the beginning to test how the tires grip in a curve situation. This morning I felt a slight slip telling me that going into the curve any faster could be a problem. The slip this morning was not like on ice, but on ice slush that gives the tires a little something to grab onto, where smooth ice gives them nothing. If that slush had been frozen solid ice, I'd have had to call in at the station to tell Sue conditions on the mountain don't allow me exit. Couples are out riding around today in 4wheel drive pickups looking at the mountain scenery. It's beautiful everywhere you look today.

The snow even makes Christmas tree patches beautiful. I have seen the snow so deep it covers the Christmas trees entirely, making a field of white cones in regular rows, white on white. I think I've seen it once. Another rarity I only saw once was this very kind of wet snow and about the same amount in October when the leaves were in full color. It looked like candyland. It was when I'd been here 1 year. I walked up to Tom Pruitt's house awed by the scenery all around. Still in my city you-needta mind, I went to tell him to come out and take a look. When I did, he said, "I seen it better." He told me of a time they'd had dense fog all night below freezing. In the morning when the sun came up the sky was clear, all the leaves in full color were covered with ice and the sun shining on it.

It puts me in mind of when somebody I know new here sees something extraordinary and is all over me with you-gotta-see, I always think back to that moment with Tom and how funny it must have been for him. I can't allow myself to say I seen it better, and I remember my own awe in the first years of becoming acquainted with these mountains. I still have that awe, but it's different now. By now I don't have to take pictures of everything new thing I see. I've walked and played in the snow for so many winters it's not new anymore. It's still beautiful and rewards a good walk. I wouldn't have taken any pictures of this snow if it weren't for wanting to get some pictures for you to see it.

Driving down the mountain, down Brown Road to Pine Swamp, I kept the window beside me open and stopped from time to time to get a picture at the side of the road. This one above I got on the way back, driving up the road. I pushed the time getting to the radio station this morning stopping so many times, but made it 15 minutes before time, which is usual. I made an effort to leave about 10 minutes before I otherwise would have. Had a good show this morning of old-time fiddle tunes played by Art Wooten, GB Grayson and Benton Flippen. I had some others along I wanted to play, Dean Sturgill of Whitetop and Raymond Gentry of Trap Hill, but will save them for next week or next time I play fiddle tunes.

I've not paid a lot of attention to GB Grayson's singing voice, but today it called to me, asked me to listen closely. He sang Tom Dooley and others. He'd sing awhile, then play the fiddle, then sing awhile and play the fiddle, the way fiddlers do when they sing too. His style of singing is good for this music. He almost talks the words. While he was playing the fiddle to Lee Highway Blues, Henry Whitter, guitar player, said in the background a couple of times, Why's a man born to die? Whitter lived in Whitehead in his later years. He was Elder Earl Baker's step-dad, married to Baker's mother. Baker's daughter gave Whitter's guitar to the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Parkway a few years ago.

First thing I learned this morning was my window scrapers were burned up with the truck and I need a new one. It was easy to push the snow by hand today. There's no scraping ice off the glass by hand. I've tried that spray can de-icer, but it freezes too. Next time in town I'll stop at NAPA and see what's there in window scrapers. Farmer's might have some. Need new wipers too. Naturally, the one on the driver's side leaves a curved streak right down the middle, perfectly in my line of vision of the road ahead, so I have to look above it or below it. Getting adjusted for the onset of winter. Tuning up.

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