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Wednesday, December 15, 2010


flow lines

It's curious how this image of land and snow resembles ripples in water, like on a lake or at sea. It could even resemble a very close-up of a section of a fingerprint. It could pass for an abstract painting. Or it could pass for a hyper-realism painting. Snow on the ground, windblown. Sand on the desert. Back when we had a gravel road, after a gully-washer I'd look into the ruts in the sides of the road made by the rain and see a miniature version of a major canyon. Very same elements both places. A flow of water in a few hours creates in a small way the same thing the flow of water in several million years creates, canyons. Very same principle. I've taken a few pictures in the past when we had gully-washers, but haven't made any since digital camera. Next big rain I'll make it a point to find some rivulets to photograph up close that look like canyons.

The backside of Waterfall Road is the perfect place to find some. That old roadbed was the road up the mountain in the old days that many a wagon, horse and foot traveled. You can see the creekbed of the torrent it became during a big rain toward the bottom. Starting at the place where the road starts sloping downward with no more plateau, the sides get higher and higher until the bottom where the walls are probably 5 feet high. The road was a major rivulet, a small canyon. As more water flowed into the roadbed it became a riverbed, which must have really been going when it was down about to Neff's driveway. It would be a major challenge for a kayak. When the roadbed was mud, the wagons would sink in and make deeper ruts as time went by. Then a gullywasher, a September hurricane, comes through and washes out the tracks and new ones begin. It took perhaps a couple centuries to wash out the canyon that is the backside of Waterfall Road.

I mourn the loss of my gravel road the same as I mourn the loss of a dog, a cat or a friend. No matter where I went in the world, when I drove down the road from Air Bellows Gap Road, it was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. And I lived there. Now I drive down the road and it's just another road, just another place. At least the back part of the road is unpaved for now. Talking with a friend who lives on Cleary Road, the gravel part, she said Cleary Road is road #2 up for paving next. I told her to fight it with everything she and her husband have to fight with. Cleary Road is one of the rare old beautiful roads left in the county. You can see it on YouTube. Write Cleary Road in the search box and it will come up. Its full title is Cleary Road Alleghany CO NC, but Cleary Road will get it. It's a 4 minute 22 second ride on a beautiful mountain road. All the trees both sides of the road will be laid down by a trackhoe, not cut, uprooted. For weeks they will be a wall on both sides of the road of devastation, all your friends uprooted, all the leaves hanging down. It's a desolate feeling driving between the two walls of death. From then on, it's ugliness as long as any of us will be living.

One of the State's ploys is to threaten that they'll get everyone else on the road to sign for it, then it will be paved up to your line from both sides, and the section along your property won't be paved. Your neighbors won't like it. Like who gives a shit? In my experience, I was promised certain things for signing, but when it came time to deliver, it didn't apply any more. I had to call in a higher power with more authority in the voice than I have to get them to do like they said. Before you sign, it's a sweet sell. After you sign, it's a rape. Please preserve Cleary Road as a county treasure. It will be a travesty to pave it. That's not saying anything, really. Travesty is what we get used to, like when the long-arm bush-hog shreds small trees and rhododendron along the sides of the road. Absolutely trashes the sides of the road for a very long time. The way it grows back becomes hideous. Oh, but it's cheaper than.... Everybody agrees it's a great thing because it's cheaper than.


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