Friday, May 8, 2009

Adventures in Appalachia-Part Four

Just a teeny tiny note before continuing: this saga, this chronicle of Kentucky life is already over and done with. We left Kentucky in 2006 headed for Memphis and haven't been back save for a few short days to attend Steven's graduation. I'd go back in a second if I had the chance.

On with the show!
Part One is here. Part Two is here. Part Three is here. Catch up, willya?!

The duck. It just sat there. Day after day, gently bobbing in the rushing water. By this time in the year, it was getting cold again. Not cold enough for a jacket, but cold enough for you NOT to go swimming in Clear Creek.

Maybe you wouldn't go swimming, but I might.

I wanted to see that duck.

I took pictures, thinking I could zoom in and see what was holding it in place. Was it real? Was it stuck on something? I couldn't tell.

For days I watched it.

There was nothing else to do.

One day after work, snuck out to the creek bank. Furtively looking around to be sure I wasn't watched, I took off my shoes, rolled up my pantlegs and waded in. The water was freezing! The rocks were slippery, the current was fast, and I almost fell a few times.

Success! I got the duck. I got that darn duck. I guess it's some sort of decoy, though it's not like any I've ever seen before. Some hunter probably had it planted there and I foiled all his plans. At least I like to think so.

I took it home, stuck a marigold in its back and called it a planter. I've still got it. And I was sick for about three weeks after my little swimming trip, but we won't talk about that...

Kind of a letdown, huh?

Kentucky is a magical place. Besides the obvious things like the mountains and the hidden creeks and the glorious solitude, the people are amazing. I'm not naive. I know every place has its good folks and its bad, and I won't pretend some of the people aren't downright creepy, like the time I saw a group of old, bearded men sitting on a porch with shotguns. Another story for another time.

Everywhere you go, people wave. Driving down the street, a wave. Shopping at Wal-Mart, a wave. Passing on the sidewalk, a wave, a how's your husband and a hug if you've seen the person more than once.

I am normally not a touchy person but it's hard to break the habit once you get hugged and handshook a couple hundred times.

If you pass someones house around dinnertime, expect to be invited in for "a quick bite." If your house floods, somebody'll come to your rescue. If your neighbor's got a garden, you've got a garden, too.

If your church has a sing-in, folks from all over the holler will show up to participate. Banjos will be plucked. Fiddles will be sawed. Feet will stomp, hands will clap, shoutin' will commence.

I miss it.

I'm thinking that it's mostly the connectedness that I miss. The togetherness, okay? Yes, the waving and even the hugging. People in bigger cities (in my experience) just don't care about each other. I could run down the street screaming "Rape!" and people might look out their windows at me, but no one would do anything.

I miss our little church, our crumbling trailer, watching the sun set between the mountains. Seeing the people that have lived their for generations delight in the wonder on my face at the sight of mimosa trees covered in blooms. Especially seeing them re-realize the beauty of the things they take for granted every day.

What I wouldn't give to have it back.

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