hard to believe i'd ever not just jump on a plane
and maybe out of respect for those who NEED to get places quickly
i opted to drive up to cleveland for a couple items of business this weekend
8, almost nine hours in a car...and yet
in light of what's befallen our country, it was the best thing i could have
we live these go-go fast paced lives, racing and jumping and twisting
to fit it all in, hit the mark, make our number
and the pressure builds and the pressure drains us of the basics
like how beautiful our country truly is
rolling out of nashville on the three lanes of I-65 north
it was green and rolling, as the nation fell beneath my tires
relinquishing the ground that is all of ours to cherish, to savor, to embrace
the hills were reaching up toward the horizon,
but they were also beckoning me to come forward and really consider this
kentucky was those stone faces, blown apart to make way for concrete ribbons
all the jagged edges, the piles of slate extending different lengths
like shelving built to last forever, holding the tales of all who'd ever traveled through there
and the lushness of it all
the pine needles scraping out against the blue
the thick, forest and emerald green of oaks and maples and every other
tree rich with sap, bobbling on the breeze, tranquil, yet strong
at rest because it's the posture that best suits sun dappled fridays
those trees lining the hillside, rising and falling with the topography
but always reaching to the heavens with a faith that defies gravity
even as there is nothing more firmly rooted in the rich kentucky soil
and there was louisville in all its preserved glory
exactly as it was, even as it grows more modern every day
reminding me that the past is the key to the future
and forgetting what we were and are negates the fertile lives we've led that
brought us here...
for the birthright and the experience accrued is a gift
kentucky, with it's white fences and its horsey allusions (even their highway
signs) offered that sense of the land as emerging power...
as the ground moving and swelling...
as something that is a force of its own
ohio offered its fecundity as a broad gift
once cincinnati with its skyline and its stadium and its merging lanes
fell away and the two lane each way (no superhighway for my home state)
pulled away from the bottom bookend of the buckeye state,
ohio's vast expanses spread themselves endlessly before like the sun
-- spilling melted crimson lipstick beyond the eye's view --
on the ocean in key west...
behind barbed wire or split rail fences, the fields are ready for the harvest
the corn probably taller than i am...
brown with its tassles swinging in the wind
green fields with yellow flowers on the tips, some crop i probably should know
hayfields half-mowed, with the big rolls of winter-food for livestock left in
the midst of the newly shorn green fields where they promise both a future
filled with more waving grasses to be brought in and the knowledge that
winter will not starve the cattle or the sheep or the horses or whatever else
they'll feed it to
there were the paint peeling barns in reds and whites with tar black roofs
the aging witnessing the time already committed to a way of life that keeps
our country strong
-- and reminds us, too, that farm aid's message (keep family farmers on the
is as much about protecting a way of life that was the backbone of this
you could see flags on the mailboxes, where the access roads abutted 71
and those mailboxes all sported those tiny flags in tangible
demonstration of their commitment to the greater way of life...
and the houses and the fields and the equipment and the crops are all part of
this amazing multi-layered truth that is this country...
that is the unseen things
that are the fiber of our being
sure, the roads were scarred and patched.
the ride was bumpy
and i think i got sunburned on my face while driving
but it was also breath-taking, to come over a hill and see an amazing
to look down from a bridge and see the water flowing forward,
not concerned about who did it or what does it mean
just moving forward in tranquility, the power coiled in the current
+ the faith lodged in something higher yet more basic
i drove because i was afraid to fly
i arrived a rich woman, reacquainted with the majesty that is this land
to see trees creating a canopy for travel
to watch tobacco leaves bend and wave and sigh
to know that there is richness in the soil that will feed us forever if cared
for what more could be want from our nation?
it is a gorgeous, beautiful, inspiring place in its raw forms
it is worth seeing to remember where it all starts from
if you're feeling weak or small or scared or impotent
get in your car
get out of town
drive 'til you come to a much less cultivated or urban place
and just feast on what you see...
it will take you to a place where you heart soars, your eyes tear and
your soul is fed in ways that it desparately needs right now
because i could feel much of my terror and sadness falling away...
a tranquility and a joy replacing it just when i needed it most
and was sure it was to temporal to even try to chase
sure i wept a few tears, but they were tears of recognition
with jimmy webb's "wish you were here" and "just like always"
playing as the miles fell away with the sun-dappled afternoon
and those tears set me free
for whatever it's worth
it's not giving blood,
but if what you can do is remind yourself how vast and beautiful it is
what better gift for yourself and your fellow travellers?
and may st christopher go with you!
cleveland, ohio by way of nashville, tennessee
18 sept 2001