It's a rainy gray mornin in Bedford, Virginia. The harsh sound of trucks on 460 rattles the motel windows. Folks down here are complainin about a late spring even though the dogwoods and forsythias are bloomin all along the highway, unlike back in north Jersey where there isn't green bud to be seen anywhere. This's always been pretty country, goin back to Jefferson and the Lees and earlier, the Blue Ridge in soft rain, the Peaks of Otter, the twisty, tumblin rivers and creeks, hollows neatly tucked away off the back roads, cows standin in fields at impossible angles. My friend was born and raised here, and she just had to come back home when she retired. The city was a drain. These days, perched on a hill with deer, raccoon, possum, all manner of bird-life, facin east to the risin sun, she's one among the many living creatures of her world, and the life around her sustains her. Her worry lines have disappeared.
I've been readin McPherson's Tried by War, a necessary corrective to romanticizin this landscape too much. Lots of blood in the soil around here. Yankee blood and Rebel blood. Shoot, Appomattox is just a quick ride to the east and we know what Jackson did with his double-time marchin around the Shendendoah northwest of here. If you're born and raised up north, in some ways the South is still another country, despite the golf courses, wineries, BMW dealerships, and ugly develpments that dot the countryside. Sometimes I don't know where in hell I am -- it may look like Jersey but it sure ain't.
Then I come to, like a coma patient. Listenin to the quiet come down the hill to my friend's house, stealthy as a cat, and watchin that slow, peaceful smile take hold of her face, I sip a little wine and get a shiver. It's human love that makes a place beautiful, poot. This place beautiful.