Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee Part 2b

Note: I'm home now, sitting in my own chair, the dog at my feet, a cat at my shoulder. The air conditioner hums, a motorcylce varooms in the distance. I can see a slight breeze moving the plants around. I already miss the mountain views, but settling into the delightfulness of home. me

After coming down the mountain from Tellico Plains, we stopped at Hardee's to get some quick food because my sister had to go to work.  If I haven't said it before now, it is fair to say we began to veer off  our diet regimen of the last month somewhere around the Georgia border. "I'm on vacation," Sweetie said when he came out of Subway with a combo that included potato chips. I looked at my nutritious, but lackluster apple slices and made a mental note to go for the chips next time. What are vacations for if not to toss away the everydayness of our lives at least for a time.

Whitt's General Store
The big black cloud that had been hovering over the mountain suddenly sat right over us. It opened up and dropped buckets of water in a giant whoosh.  We had to run across the steaming parking lot a whole 6 feet but got drenched as if we'd been standing in a car wash. I think had we not been on vacation we would have cussed and fumed, wondered why we hadn't thought to bring an umbrella. Instead we laughed. Wonder what it is about letting rain wash over you that makes one laugh?
On that note, we dropped Jean off at her car, and made another dash through the rain to get inside the motel. After drying off, the first task was to take a nap!

When You and I Were Young Maggie
written by George Johnson
When we woke up a little while later, the sun was back out, the sky blue again and the clouds puffy and white. So we loaded up the dog and went exploring again.  Jean had given us directions  - turn right at the corner, turn left at 123, right at ABC, and follow the road back to XYZ. At least that's what it sounded like. My mind kind of shuts down when I'm being given instructions I'm supposed to follow. (Hmm. I may have just had an AHA moment) Sweetie, who had returned to his youthful self - the one where he tried to see how fast he could go around the twists and turns - took to the mountain like Daniel Boone. Since we had time and no real destination, we followed the main road, but also took forks and paths just to see what we'd find.

Hiwassee Union Baptist Church
I think if our civilization is ever wiped out and anthropologists from another planet try to piece together the nature of our societies, they will stand in an overgrown Tennessee fields, swat away flies and chiggers, and scratch their heads as they ponder the rusted fossils of John Deere tractors, old pick up trucks, barns caving in on themselves, dried up hay bales and rocking chairs in the unlikeliest of places. But just like some GA slaves who uncovered the bones of a giant sloth back in the 1800's their questions might eventually be answered. I still can't figure why barns and houses and tractors are just left to disintegrate, while people live in a double-wide trailer not too far away. Do they just look at the mountain and not their back yard?

We followed signs to Maggie's Mill and found instead a family cemetery surrounded by woods and a country store. A sign posted on a tree near the rutted road warned of bear traps to cut down the population (the bears or the people driving by?) and that we were on a dead end road. Mountain humor? Cemetery. Dead End? Hahahaha! The two scrawny yappy dogs who showed up when we stopped to take a picture were warning enough. Like the Hotel California or the movie Deliverance, "this could be heaven, or it could be hell." We did eventually find Maggie's Mill or what was left of it.  A grist stone memorial told us it was the place where George Johnson wrote and dedicated a poem to Maggie Harris, when she was dying of tuberculosis at the age of 23. There was a slight discrepancy of dates, I read 1820 on the marker, but Google had the music and song published around 1860?

Hiwasee Union Baptist Church
Next stop a widening of the Hiawassee River where people rent inner tubes and rafts. We'd opened our windows to feel the cooler air and listen to the water rippling over rocks. Birds were singing their evening songs, and I was sure I could hear a pair of Loons calling like the ones in On Golden Pond. I probably wouldn't know a Loon if I saw it and I never did so maybe I was just getting my bird calls mixed up. The two story church that stood on the banks of the river was a wonderment. It sat on stacks of mortared stones. It may have once been very steady. And hell it was still standing after decades. But it sure did look rickety to me. I'm not sure I would have ever ventured to the top floor where the Masons held their meetings even if I'd been allowed in.

The sun retreated behind the clouds as we worked our way back to Highway 411 and home. All of us, Sweetie, the dog and I were better for having made this trip. I can't explain why. Maybe it was a way to shed some of the ennui we'd accumulated over the 18 months. Maybe we developed a new way of looking at our age-induced maladies - achy backs, sore feet, tender hips. Just because we're a little rickety, doesn't mean we're out to pasture. And even if we were, we could stand there rusting into perpetuity and people would still drive by, stop to take our picture and marvel mountain's preservative qualities.

Evening mist rising on the Hiwassee River

It was late when we got back to Etowah. We couldn't face another burger joint so we ate at the only restaurant in town still open.  Michael's Cafe, I think it was called. A giant pig welcomed us at the door. Not a guy in a pig suit, thank goodness. When I asked the waitress what was good, she said, "oh I don't know, I only eat the pasta!" Sweetie and I took a wild on vacation chance, opting  for blackend fish and brisket smoked to just this side of jerky. My oh my, was it good. And before leaving the waitress said she'd tried the pulled pork on her break and would highly recommend it the next time we were there. Live and learn, I say.

The day provided many opportunities for gratitude. I tried to embrace them all.

Wishing for you a vacation mind-set in your every day life,

Merry ME

The Road Less Traveled?


AkasaWolfSong said...

I've sat and read all of your blog entries for the past few days and I have to say this...there is never a dull moment with you, Sweetie and Suze! :) I'd love to be a little mouse giggling in the corner as I watched your daily journey.
However Brave Beloved Mary...I'm singing in my heart...for the bravery it took you to let go of the ashes of your Parents, and the freedom, yet sad sweetness that was for you. You my Sweet Sister, are my Hero! I send you much love and many hugs.
I'm so blessed to know you.
I am also in love with the River Photo and the mist hovering over the water...that is outstanding!
Breathe Peace...

Molly said...

I love this post! Thanks for sharing. You've refreshed my itch to travel...

seraph said...

Beautiful, thanks for sharing!