Saturday, May 21, 2011


You know that song Johnny Cash always sang so well about "I've been everywhere, man..." Well, that's how we feel after myriad miles on the road in less than a week. We got punchy with some great road limericks and sayings we invented as happenings occurred. The cheapest gas we could find was dead center in northern New England in a college town $3.73.9 a gallon. Still highway robbery, and that last digit has become the tell-tale con. There was a fellow in a mom & pop backwater business selling it for a little bit more down the road from there. Door wide open, three huge stray mutts lounging on the plank floor, everybody in the family working the place, barely hanging on, still happy to chat. Make conversation. Bless them, really.

We had our bicycles and bicycled everywhere we could, no matter the hour or the rain or not. 6:30 this morning in Manchester Center, Vermont. We've been surveying old graveyards too since we are designing the tombstone for a close friend. Last evening down in the Berkshires we cleaned up the graves for some of the family; then bicycled the spooky lanes.

Bicycled in the northern White Mountains — way back in searching out two waterfalls. Saw long distance runners training barefoot. Gazed up higher, snow still deep in the ravines. Lots of beer now being brewed by all sorts of folks in a wide radius of the Whites. Drive into any small town and one can point easily to the Haves and the Have-Nots. Houses all trim and kept like nobody's business by the old timers, whether they have money or not. They just do it. Otherwise, the wealthy or well-to-do are doing just fine, and then there are way too many old homes broken and sunken and terribly lost. Ravaged is the better word.

The bicycle can get in and out where any other vehicle, or even on-foot, can't quite maintain the same slip-easy arrival and departure. The only way to do these towns is by the back ways, side streets, alleys, cemeteries, back lots connecting debris, pathways, shortcuts, and hidden passages. Overhear worlds and clatter from the Chinese restaurant rear open door. Two mops out there, a ratty chair where someone takes a cigarette break.

A black and white yard cat attentive for us in fixed sit position as we approach on bicycles...he's heard and is waiting for us long before we spotted him.

A coyote crosses the interstate highway rain in four or five loped gallops. Something very serious about that tail. The expression on the face. Reckless speed at 80 mph by many and nobody came close to the wild animal sleek.

Cornfields under water. Burlington flooded. A stranger notices our out-of-state plates on a rental and even though we're from the same state warns us, "Don't go there."

We did drop in to see an old poet friend, and it's been years. I saw him sitting in his favorite living room easy chair by the window of the farmhouse where I last left him and tapped at the window. He looked up and gave a small hand wave and with great difficulty hobbled to the door. What a trouper some of these old gentlemen are! After the door opened I asked if he knew who I was. He said he didn't know. When I told him his whole body relaxed as he said my name aloud and smiled and opened both his hands to gesture me inside.

You're home.

photo © bob arnold