and this woman was singing my song:
the lover's in love, and the other's run away,
the lover is crying 'cause the other won't stay.
some of us hover when we weep for the other who was
dying since the day they were born.
well, this is not that:
i think that i'm throwing, but i'm thrown.
and i thought I'd live forever, but now i'm not so sure".
---from an old Lisa Loeb song
I got up near dawn to make some copies for my work. Then, in the very early morning just after first light, I drove ninety miles to a little North Carolina town with a little courthouse. On the way there, I passed numerous little attraction signs that said "Potteries". The folks who settled this area, a deep piney woods, started little homespun pottery manufacturing sites. There must have been dozens that I passed. This awed me, a bit, because Camark Pottery, the pottery of my folks' home town (now, I suppose, my home town) featured just one family pottery, and yet it had trouble staying in business in the long haul. Now they write books about it and sell the pottery at a premium on eBay.
I passed over attractive rushing rivers, and past the after-effects of clear-cutting, where the understory trees like holly, dogwood, and scrub hardwoods are gone. When the clear-cutting began in earnest in the 70s, it was thought to be an unmitigated environmental disaster, but the forest proved a bit more resilient than that. Now it's arguably a more mixed thing, but clear-cutting is not to my taste at all. Although these pine stands are not created in "virgin" forest, the loss of biodiversity can be unfortunate. It's not that the forest has always been pristine in the south (usually, southern plots of land included many small-holding farms driven from business by the Great Depression and turned into forests as an alternate cash crop--the denuding of the virgin timber having happened two or three generations earlier). But it's a question of whether land is assessed solely in terms of profit, or also in terms of profit, flora and fauna. I am a big believer in tree farming, in new growth forest. I have no problem with a wood industry. But I want to see fewer clear cuts.
It was too cold and wet to go into the nearby national forest, in search of more pristine places. But I liked the country very much--it was very similar to the types of places I grew up. One difference is that the historical markers commemorated Revolutionary War events, whereas my part of Arkansas was largely held by the Quapaw and the Caddo in that era, with a few trapper/trader/pioneer settlements.
Each historical sign is a story fleetingly seen at sixty five miles an hour. The North Carolina signs are large enough to read at high speeds. But the sign "John MacRae, Gaelic poet who fought on the Loyalist side" fails to give the sense of the Highlander poet Iain mac Mhurchaidh, known in English as John MacRae, who urged his countrymen to emigrate to places free of the domination of the highlands lords, but then lamented the hardships in the new country. So many people moved here and move here to find the promise of salvation from poverty and salvation from tyranny and prejudice. I think it's important to make that vision the foundation for a new future. But history has its puzzles, and of course MacRae and the Highlanders fought against independence from England. Every road sign is a dense story, told in twenty words. Every life is a dense web of interest and intrigue.
My business in rural North Carolina wrapped up early, so I headed back towards Raleigh. I stopped in Sanford, a larger small town, where one store displayed numerous different potters' works. The stylistic range was quite interesting, ranging from muted earth tone solids to somewhat sentimental pieces to quite unique bits of artistry. One artist's statement described how her work was divinely inspired, which set off a knee-jerk reaction, but then I reflected that I would not be so judgmental if the artist had been, say, in Myanmar and written that. It's easier to disrespect prophets in one's own country.
The prices were extremely reasonable, even when dealing with the "mark up" from buying from a retailer rather than a potter. Sadly, I drove by numerous bbq places, and did not get barbecue. I stopped at one place, but it had no place to sit down. I find when I am in my suit that I must eat while sitting if I am to limit my potential ruination factor to the tie I am wearing.
I went to Cary, a Raleigh suburb, to do some legal drafting, and then went to the RDU airport. I originally had been set to fly out Saturday morning. Sadly, instead of great barbecue, I ended up at a simple buffet restaurant where the soul food was fine but not special. I had had images of working late today, hiking in forests or perhaps driving to visit friends in the region. As the air grew colder, though, I decided to fly out tonight to avoid any potential further snowy weather.
I went to the airport and switched out my tickets, which happened at no cost. I am always amused by
airline ticketing. I had looked into a making a modest city change for my return, to facilitate my wanderings, and the change would hve cost a fortune. I wished to make a modest time change, though, and a kind person at the airline desk works it out for me for free.
I purchased Karen Armstrong's biography on the Buddha and read the first chapter. Then I lost the book by setting it down someplace, which is, to me, a moral lesson in the principle of non-attachment (to someone else, it's no doubt a moral lesson in the phenomenon of cool free books, assuming that the Transporation Safety Administration is not blowing up the Buddha as a safety precaution even as we speak).
The RDU airport had this wonderful used bookstore, an innovation each airport should emulate.
I picked up The Pickwick Papers for three dollars. I did my five p.m. client conference call an airport payphone, and then caught my flight home. I alternated between sleep and Pickwic, amused by the duel passages and wearied by the travel. The woman beside me during the Raleigh-Atlanta leg of the trip seemed to have worked out some aerobic way to do yogic stretches with her head buried in her sweater, while the man next to me for the Atlanta-Dallas leg repeatedly intook a rum and juice concoction.
When I arrived home, I found I had been paid for the "Vibrating Electric Fields" CD I auctioned for tsunami relief. I will transfer the money to the charity and do that kind of auction again. I had not been to North Carolina in years, and hope I get to return soon.