Thursday, April 17, 2008

Somehow now it’s already evening. This morning, we walked to Mingo Falls, up a very steep flight of wooden stairs, some stairs muddy from the recent snow, our hearts thudding with exertion. The sound of the falls was a constant, rhododendron everywhere, large tree-sized shrubs not yet budding, yet the promise of spring everywhere in the palest of green leaves shimmering in a hardwood forest.

Yet the sound of the falls pulled us forward into warm morning. Ahead we could see the wooden bridge and a trail’s end. Above, the falls maybe 50 feet high (the stairs were higher), but we saw several lovely connected cascades, mossy rocks, a few fallen logs, not as majestic as those we have seen in our own Pacific Northwest or along the Columbia Gorge, but still a respite.

Then we drove out of the Great Smoky National Park, along curving roads, past very isolated farms and houses, the road so curving I couldn’t watch the landscape change from forest to fields to towns, but dodged trucks and slowed for two accidents. No one follows the speed limit here of 70.

We only drove about 200 miles and then here to a Quality Inn near Winston-Salem. We settled into our room, double bed, cable tv, fridge, a room with a view of a field and a swimming pool covered up as it’s not the season, and yet we heard the sweetest bird song we cannot name.

We laughed through a barbeque dinner at the nearby Sagebrush restaurant, a cowboy theme everywhere, including a fancy tooled saddle somewhat like Grandad kept in his office, though his was weather beaten and plain leather, well worn. This country reminds me of why my family moved west, west to Oklahoma and Missouri, then west to California. All this finally led me to write today's poem about my grandfather. Whew!

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