Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Friday, November 07, 2008

People Usually Update Their Blogs By Telling You What They Had For Lunch

It was the nature of his profession that his experience with death
should be greater than for most and he said that while it was true
that time heals bereavement it does so only at the cost of the slow
extinction of those loved ones from the heart's memory which is the
sole place of their abode then or now. Faces fade, voices dim. Seize
them back, whispered the sepulturero. Speak with them. Call their
names. Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of
every gift.

Cormac McCarthy
The Crossing

Ginger has convinced me that this tale is worthy of a post. Her title is: They Don’t Call It Troublesome Gap For Nothin’
It all started Tuesday, after I voted at the Spring Creek Senior Citizen’s Center. I was upstream of the farm, and had errands to do in Marshall, necessitating a drive down to Hot Springs and then over Walnut Mountain to Marshall. And I said to myself: It’s a beautiful fall day, and I’ll take the shortcut over Spring Creek Mountain. This is a road that starts out paved at the fork of Spring Creek and Baltimore Branch, goes straight up the mountain, turns to dirt, goes straighter up the mountain, to the summit at Troublesome Gap, and is still a dirt road to the North Fork of Pine Creek, where it’s paved down to the French Broad. It’s been so dry lately, that I thought the road would be fine. It’s after a few days of heavy rain that you want to avoid that road.
I was pretty close to the top when trouble started. The wheels of my little van were spinning and spinning, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I braked and stopped, and then started sliding backwards. Then I slid backwards some more. And came to a stop. I tried to ease it forward just a bit, but got nowhere. The wheels spun and spun but forward I did not go. I braked again and slid just a bit further down the hill. I gave up on making summit and decided I just had to try to ease it downhill, slowly, slowly, till I could turn around and abandon my mission. I put it in reverse and eased back, but was sliding faster than I really meant to go. And noticed that steering was no longer an applicable concept; the van pretty much just went where it wanted to go. That’s when I started to realize the extent of my problem. I couldn’t go up. I could go down, but not exactly down in quite the way I wanted to. Just down in whatever way the van felt like going. And the edge of the mountain was getting closer and closer.
I should mention that on one side of me, me left, was the dirt face where they had carved the road into the mountain. On my other side was the edge of the mountain, straight down further than I cared to think about. There was a little, bitty drainage ditch between the road and the dirt face of the mountain, full of leaves and snuff cans, but there nonetheless. I started to think that if I could get the wheels into that ditch, then the ditch would guide me downhill some. At least it would prevent me from sliding off the mountain.
Bit by bit, I guided the little van into the ditch, straight back into a rock, the only rock, I noticed, for as far as I could see, up and down, in the dirt face. I was stuck, but at least I wasn’t sliding. I was about to walk down the hill and ask for help, when I said to myself one of those things that selfs say to itself sometimes, and almost always presages trouble: Lemme try one more thing. I wedged myself between the van and the mountain, back against the van and feet against the dirt, and pushed.
And the van actually moved. An inch away from the rock, and six inches down the hill. And back into the rock. So I pushed again. And again, an inch away from the rock and six inches down the hill. And stuck again. And so, of course, I tried one more time. The back of the van slid away from the rock, the front of the van slid toward me, and all of us slid down the hill six inches. And I was pinned. I pivoted around sideways, put a shoulder into the van, and pushed just a bit, just enough to allow me to shimmy up the van and over the top.
I reconsidered this and that, then started the van up and put it in reverse. I drove, or, more like it, slid backwards, bit by bit, by bit. The brakes were useless, but I could control my speed by wiggling the front wheel in the ditch: straight went faster, turned slowed everything down. And down I went, until I ran out of ditch. I was back on the road, all four wheels, and sliding back slowly. I came to a stop after a while, and decided there was only one way out: Up. Reverse just made me slide, possibly somewhere I didn’t want to be.
I put it in drive and gunned it, one last all out attempt to get to the top. I avoided the middle of the road this time, where the gravel was loosest, and hugged the inside shoulder. I slipped and slided and spun a bit, but I kept going and made it. To the top. Troublesome Gap.
I looked around, and coasted down the other side.I’ve forgotten just what my errands were, and, somehow, they don’t seem quite so important now.


  • At January 10, 2009 1:38 AM, Blogger joe said…

    That is... wow. I don't even know. Let's say that if I ever make my way to your area, I'll never (as a driver) take that shortcut.


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