Sunday, October 4, 2009


Nothing equals a car trip in the Fall when leaves are beginning to turn yellow and red, trees in the Appalachian range ablaze with life before they fall to the ground of winter. Fall moves in, trailing a shower of leaves; its sky a porcelain blue.

Thursday, we set out from Sewanee, TN for Asheville, NC and the 80th celebration of Thomas Wolfe’s LOOK HOMEWARD ANGEL. We traveled the Hwy. 64/74 route which took us through Ocoee and the Cherokee National Forest, alongside strong rushing water created by the TVA Dam. Creeks along the way bore strange names; e.g., Goforth Creek, which we surmised must have been baptismal waters for fundamentalist sects scattered throughout the mountains. The creek named Brush Creek was entirely that –dense brush that had overtaken a dry stream bed. River birch, sweet gum, sycamore, and jack pines followed the water and stood sentinel by streams and rivers we passed. The sun was out, the air crisp and fine. It was a perfect day to make a trek through woods and water.

That morning before we left, I had learned about the death of the mother of a close friend and had written the following poem, which will appear in a new book I am writing entitled OLD RIDGES:


The old woman sunning in the garden
scorns locusts as singing insects,
complaining that they are God’s plague,
forever tuning up and having
only one note in their score,
practicing the sound until it becomes no music
but a ritonello of torture
offending her scale of joy.

She cannot know that they bury themselves
underground for 17 years of solitude and prayer
before bursting through decay and loam
to sing the aria of resurrection,
enchanted with that one note,
loosely translated as light.

Traveling through the Fall scenery in the TN and NC mountains, I felt inspired by the light about which I had written early that morning. I also felt a tug to backtrack when the ride ended and we entered the City of Asheville, lured on by the celebration honoring the 80th anniversary of Thomas Wolfe’s masterpiece, LOOK HOMEWARD ANGEL. The celebration featured an Occasional Theatre Production entitled “Return of an Angel, written by Sandra Mason and directed by Michael Lilly. We had come a long way (six hours) to view a two-hour drama, but it was worth the scenic drive. Asheville has many places where good books, author readings, music and gallery events draw us over the mountains into a metropolis that features the best of Appalachia.

Note: The second part of the North Carolina trek follows in a succeeding blog.
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