It’s Day 24 of our little trek, and I’m in Douglasville, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, staying with my niece and her family. Libby’s getting another dose of country living, with her southern canine cousins, both females. There were a few raised hackles at first, reminded me of the woman who pulled up behind me at the Hope Mills General Store, in appropriately named, Hope Mills, VA. By the time that brief stopover was through, I was hoping to get out of there alive. Okay, I’m exaggerating – a bit.
I’d stopped for gas and a bathroom break and the view from the fillin’ station was magnificent. I hopped back out of the car to snap (although we don’t “snap” photos anymore) and I’m standing there, minding my own business, my back to the single gas pump when this pickup rumbled to a stop behind me and cuts the engine. I had pulled out of the way of the pump. I look over my shoulder briefly, but go about my business, when I hear this woman’s voice, in a Dixie Carter kind of drawl.
“Folks around here don’t like people takin’ pitchers of their barns.”
I turn to see a leathery-tanned blonde woman leaning out of the cab of the pickup, smoking a cigarette, which makes me nervous anyhow, being around gas pumps and all. Her male companion was filling up the truck. He looked at me hard.
“Say what?” I offer up in a friendly, non-confrontational way, as I pivot, every so slightly, focusing my camera phone away from the barn, aiming now at the panoramic view to my right…at three o’clock.
When I turned around, she was still staring at me, menacingly.
I ask, “I’m sorry, is this your place?”
“Nope.” That’s it, nothing more.
“I’m from Missouri, traveling across the country with my dog. This was just such a beautiful spot. I’ve been taking pictures of stuff I see along the road.” I was thinking if I said something nice it might win her over.
“Yeah, it’s r-e-e-e-l nice here. And people don’t like other people coming around takin’ pitchers.”
“Well, okay then. Thanks a lot.” The only stupid-ass thing I didn’t say was “have a nice day!” Like WTF would I be telling her to have a nice day for? And what in the hell was I thanking her for? For being a jerk? I got in the car, with their eyes burning a hole through my license plate, and drove on down the highway, with that narrowly-missed-being-hit-by-a-bus shudder. You know what I mean? Only in this case, it was more like, narrowly-missed-being-shot-in-the-ass.
I’m shaking it off as I try to get back into the pastoral calm of a two-lane highway, in the Appalachian Mountains, which would have happened a lot faster, if not for the locals in Suburbans or F110 pickups who were riding my ass the entire way, and I promise you I was not driving slow. They drive like maniacs on these roads because they know them like the backs of their leathered hands. I pull over a couple of times to get the hell out of the way and travel up gravel roads, again, the threat of buckshot in my butt ever present but the views SO worth it…
This was the first time Libby had gotten this close to a cow.
And the calm is starting settle in around my head, the way fog hugs the hills, and I am simply happy. I am out in the middle of nowhere, in Rappahannock County, Virginia, close to the Shenandoah River, parked on a gravel road, the bugs buzzing in the tall grass, probably even a snake or two about, with my faithful mutt, who doesn’t question a single thing I do, admiring the view and mostly, just breathing in all the summery fragrance of the sweet earth at that precise spot on the globe.
It is a cleansing breath. And I’ll tell you this, my friend, there wasn’t a single, solitary gnarly old chicken bone in this whole damn pasture.
We had nobody waiting for us, my daughter (part of my crack logistics team) had called ahead to Waynesboro and had found us a room, so I was just enjoying the bumper crop of sunset views, when I rolled into Elkton, VA, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but the flip side to the tent revival I’d seen in Brooklyn.
I couldn’t BELIEVE IT! I drove down the hill, parked in the grassy lot and sat out on the roof of my car and absorbed all the abundant benevolence I could ingest, compared to the hair-raising malevolence from just an hour before. And yes, I got video, from a distance, not wanting to invade their spiritual space, the drummer gave me a friendly wave with his drum sticks.
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I was thinking that gal at the gas station might want to drop by there….
before she drops in, here. I’m just sayin…