Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Break.

The weather stops for no blog. Since we last broadcast from this space: winter, breaking gently back towards today's near-Indian-summer conditions. Hell of a way to come down off the mountain, but it had be done. You cannot live at or on vacation forever.

What you can do, though, over the course of a handful of internetless days: put the dog on Bluff Mountain, on Whitetop Mountain, on Mount Rogers. Hang onto her while she stops dead still, barks at a huge flushed deer (thirty hands high, at least), vibrates, begs you to let her run to all the parts of southwest Virginia at once. Thirteen years old, my ass: the old lady's maybe a step slower on average, but now I think it's only because she's keeping everything extra in store for that one next time when I won't see the deer before she does, when she'll get that quick first step, when she'll be gone and gone again like the old days, tennish years ago now, when we'd be out at the lake and some branch would snap and she'd be vanished, three long bounds and over some little rise, and it'd be forty minutes before she'd come dragassing back, bellying along the ground and sporting a torn ear, a tongue a half-mile long and covered in dirt, her whole self so utterly, primally happy she didn't give a damn what I yelled at her.

Snow that first night up there. Wood stove pumping away, getting the little cinder-block cabin nearly warm. Snow on the mountain the next day like it'd been scoured on: icicles, I'd want to call them, if they hadn't been snow, sticking off the Appalachian Trail markers at hard ninety degree angles, four and five inches long. No snow on the one side, and those beards of snow right off the other. All the low grasses that way, too. It must have been one hell of a wind up there. I've never seen snow stick on anything sideways before.

Dog in the snow like she was home.

Back 27401-ward, on the porch: joggers with flashlights, dogs barking, cars pulling through the intersection, motors, mowers, trains. Had got used to quiet. Now to get used to here again.

On vacation: perhaps I could live that way forever. I'd want a little easier access to a thing like a fresh Brussels sprout, or really just a grocery store in general, but give me some way to every now and then make a meal that's not a one-potter, and I'll sell everything but the wife and dog and my ten fleece hats, and that will do me.

When we were kids, none of us understood the way my mom got when we'd first be able to see or smell the ocean on our trips down past St. Augustine every year. I know now. Maybe I've said this before. I don't know. It doesn't matter. Children, gather round. Listen to your old man tell this story. Twelve years up there in Grayson. Every damn one of them with the dog. Muscle memory. Reflex. Driving up that road to the state park, or the sweetrot smell of the leaves off the back porch of this little beat-up four-room rental: what to say other than I already know how much space there is between this fall break and the next one?

1 comment:

Luke said...

I was up in Grayson Highlands (10 mi. from Mt. Rogers) on Saturday, watching the snow fall. 10 degrees colder on the mountain than at the entrance.

Glad you got to do some breaking, some dogging, some quieting. Next time you're up this way, let me know, I'm just down the road from Mt. Rogers.