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Unmarked Crossings: a poet and her journeys

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March 30, 2010

Home. After a six-hour drive that would have taken under four hours had I-40 West not been closed due to a rockslide near the North Carolina/Tennessee border, I pulled into my driveway. My friend James’s car was parked there, so I knew I would be greeted by my three dogs that had been guests at his farm outside Lancaster. I was not disappointed. Not only were my three dogs, Petunia, Camellia, and Chloe, waiting for me, but also Chula, James’s year-old American Bulldog.

Although the dogs were glad to see me, they seemed more interested in the box of Krispy Kreme donuts I had picked up on my way out of Hendersonville (I swear I only ate two on the road). They had to sniff my suitcases and bags (did they smell goats?) as James brought them in from the car.
It was good to be home. Today has been a very hectic day. I stayed up late last night, packing and trying to prepare for a long drive home. I took time to go outside and enjoy the light from the full moon, as it shone brightly for a few seconds, then disappeared behind clouds. Even with the cloud cover, I could see clearly the goat barn and other buildings in that area of the park. In the dark, the scent of the pines and other growing things, seemed more intense than in the light of day.

I said my good-byes then, in the semi-darkness, knowing I would miss my little house and the solitude and inspiration I have found at Connemara. And, although I am not a firm believer in an afterworld where the dead still prowl around, I sense some benevolent spirits keeping watch over the buildings, forests, and Glassy Mountain. If there are ghosts, I’m sure that those at Connemara are happy to be there. And why not with so many visitors to keep things interesting.

I was to meet Sarah at the park offices at 8:30; we were driving to a local radio station for a live talk show from 9 – 10. Fortunately, I had planned everything last night because when I awoke (on my own), the clock said 8:06! I have never packed a car so fast in my life. Unfortunately, I was not able to vacuum my little home-for-three-weeks, but the dishes and towels were washed (although the former were not put away), and I had stripped the bed and put the linens in the laundry area. It was 8:38 when I pulled up to the park offices and, by the time I followed Sarah to the radio station, we still had seven or eight minutes to spare.

After an hour of Q & A on a morning talk show and a quick stop at McD’s for coffee and a sausage biscuit and I was on the road. Although the closure of I-40 was an inconvenience, the detour took me through a part of the country I had never seen. I-26 winds through the mountains for more than fifty miles, providing sweeping vistas of seemingly endless mountains, then plunging down into deep gorges, sometimes literally through the middles of mountains where the rock has been blown away. Although I appreciate the convenience, I feel rather hypocritical enjoying the smooth asphalt, knowing what that convenience has done to the landscape, watersheds, and wildlife that the roads displaced.

After reaching I-81 and turning west through Tennessee, near the junction where I-81 meets up again with I-40, I was surprised to see a sign that read, “Asheville 90 Miles.” What?! I had driven around three hours and was only a little over one hundred miles from where I started.
Another two hours and I was crossing back over into Kentucky. I’m not a native Kentuckian, but it where I feel most at content these days. The familiar town names announced that I was nearing home: London, Mt. Vernon, Berea (where I got off the interstate and took a winding two-lane road across the hills). By the time I turned onto Maple Avenue and passed the convenience store (that used to be Jerry’s Quickstop, but is now something else—even I’ve seen changes in my little town), I was ready to be greeting with sloppy doggie kisses and a warm hug. These three weeks have been a time I will always treasure. I was treated like someone of importance by people I grew to appreciate (Connie, Sarah, Sabrina, Linda, Jan, and the others). But, trite as it sounds, there really is no place like home.
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