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Sunday, February 24, 2013


Saturday at one was the deadline for the photo exhibit at the library. I'd taken two prints to Willard Gayheart in Woodlawn last Friday for matting toward the show. I was to pick them up Friday night at the Fiddle and Plow show at Willard's gallery. Friday I headed out for Woodlawn. It had snowed an inch and a half in the night, crunchy icy snow, the kind that would be easy to drive on the first few tire tracks over it. But after several tire tracks it turns to slick ice. I went down the road to Pine Swamp and determined I would not attempt to return that way in the dark and uphill. I saw several skid marks in the place I suspected I might not pass beyond. I'd backed down from that place in the dark once. It's not something I want to repeat. Backing downhill on a winding mountain dirt road covered with a sheet of ice in the dark, so glad the reverse light bulbs were working. Without them I'd have to open the door and watch the back tire in relation to the bank on the left side. I didn't want to do that. At the end of the unpaved part of the road, I came onto clear asphalt from there on. Before the ice I'd intended to drive down the Parkway to get Dana Ross, but could not use the Parkway for the ice. I went around using Waterfall Road, Air Bellows Gap Road, Brown Road, Pine Swamp Road, Wolf Branch Road, Mahogany Rock Road, Dewitt Road, Hwy 21, Pulltail Road, Vestal Road and then Mountain Hearth Road.

By the time I reached Dana's place I was ready to get home as fast as I could git. An icy mist so thick it made a fog was freezing on tree limbs. White pines were covered with ice, limbs hanging down with bottom limbs touching the ground. During my half hour drive I saw the tree limbs turning white and sagging toward the ground. I started thinking about trees breaking and falling across the road. No chainsaw in the trunk, I wanted to go home. When Dana came to the door I showed him what I was seeing. Woodlawn was north all the way. What I saw over the last half hour, given three more hours it will be black ice all the way home. I don't want to drive on black ice. It can't be done. I said straight out I wasn't going. It was Carl Jones and Erynn Marshall, a show I looked forward to. I was getting concerned about making it home with the frozen mist coming down so fast. We decided to sit by the fire with a cup of coffee and visit since I was there and the coffee might help me up the mountain. Outside a half hour later the tree limbs had cleared of the frost. They were up again with just a little bit of white on their tips. The temperature had risen above freezing. The icy snow on the ground had turned to slush, the ice was gone. It heartened me to go ahead and drive to Woodlawn. Then I remembered that I am no weather prophet and dare not pretend to be. Crazy as the weather was, I decided not to chance it. Forty miles to Woodlawn and no telling what was between here and there.

The mist cleared away, the snow and ice were completely gone. All the way home it was like nothing had happened. I went up the mountain on the road from Whitehead, a good choice. I get to the top and there was the ice and snow again. The snow and ice were localized to Air Bellows and Cherry Lane. Cherry Lane gets a current of air that runs through Roaring Gap and goes around Bullhead mountain. Those two gaps, Air Bellows Gap and Roaring Gap must have been letting the same weather through. Who knows? I am not a weather prophet. I just receive it as it happens.The big IT, the weather. Sometimes the weather seems like it has a personality, like it's conscious. If that weather Friday night was really conscious and speaking to me, I was getting the message loud and clear, get yer ass home. Walking to the house was in the snow that was there since morning. I didn't even wonder what was up. Didn't care. I got the message. I was home. Safe. No dents on the car, no air bag blowing up in my face, no insurance issues, no estimates, no repairs, no problem.

Still, I needed to get the two photographs I'd left last week for Willard to mat. Up Saturday morning to the coffee shop to have a coffee and work the Jumble puzzle in the paper, and visit with whoever was there, this morning Tom Guy. Willard opened his shop at 10, so I left Sparta at 9:30 to get to Woodlawn by 10:15. Took 21 and 58 through Independence and Galax. A good drive at a good time of day when few cars were on the road. I like the scenery in Southwest Virginia. Stopped and bought gas for 24c a gallon less than in NC. That much state tax difference. I like to support my state, but when my state charges me that much more tax when I buy something I need as much as gas, I'll give my money in Virginia. Since I go to Virginia regularly, that's where I buy gas. Saved $3 today. It's my way of saying to my state: you screw me, I screw you. My state is ruthless when it comes to taking my money. The state of NC regards me a numbered object that owes it money. Need I think of NC in any other way?

Willard did a beautiful job of matting the two photographs. One was Thornton Spencer of Whitetop Mountain Band playing his fiddle and the other was Lyle Croco of Buffalo Death Rattle, a Louisiana old-time band, playing his fiddle silhouette against blue sky. I'm not putting pictures in looking to win a contest, but to participate in the show. I like to hang something on the wall with other people from around here. I see it a community show, the people of this county who have an aesthetic eye for still photographs. We have quite a number of people in the county now who make some beautiful photographs. I like to see a show of them and I like to have something among theirs. Had a good uninterrupted conversation with Willard until we ran down. That's the best way to end a conversation, when it runs down. He had finished and framed his colored pencil drawing of me painting the picture of him. I'm happy to have something by Willard in the house. I also have his color drawing of Tommy Jarrell playing fiddle and Paul Brown on banjo. I'm going to hang them on the same wall, one above the other.

Back to Sparta by 58 and 21, to the library delivering the matted prints one hour before closing time. I filled out the forms, paid the fee, talked a bit with Debbie and staff, went to the coffee shop and visited with Tom Guy again. He'd been away and came back. Tim the Techman came in and we had a good conversation corner over coffee. Winding down after several hours of driving, talking and paying attention listening, I stumbled out of the coffee shop and Drew Tuggle called me from across the street in the art store. Carol was volunteering there on Saturday mornings. We talked for a good while until I couldn't stand up anymore without assistance. I had a new blanket in the back seat of the car I'd just bought at Magic something or other where Walmart used to be in Galax. I wanted to wrap up in the new blanket and sleep. At home I make a bee line for the bed, wrap up in the blanket and lay there with my head buzzing like a yellow jacket nest in the wall. I was thinking it hopeless to attempt to sleep. Maybe I could calm down watching a quiet movie. I stayed where I was, unwilling to move. Then woke up two hours later, refreshed.


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