Saturday, January 17, 2009
Roads Less Traveled
Thinking: Curiosity didn’t kill the cat. It just made her more knowledgeable. I am convinced!
I predict this will be the year of day trips. I find myself, along with the world, in a conservative spending mood, so day trips is all I’ll have to splurge on for now, till a better economy decides to roll around. No big deal though.
I was reading a travel blog this week, and the author said it doesn’t matter whether you travel alone or with someone (Amen for that! Finally someone decided to bust the “must have a boyfriend/ girlfriend to travel” myth), the important thing is that you travel. That you go.
Paraphrasing that: I don’t think it matters how far from home you go, it matters that you go! Any corner of the world that’s not been seen yet, distance is irrelevant, should be new to you, and reveal something you’re not familiar with.
So, today, in 20 degree weather and with my kitchen pipes frozen solid, with a sinus cold that’s kept me up all night, I decided I won’t watch the pot boil … eeeerrr… the pipes defreeze, but I’d keep my own self busy, and head out of town. Anywhere.
I have always heard good things about Seagrove, NC, a pottery hub, that was still unknown to me, after all these years (almost 11) of living here. And after all, “why not”, Seagrove, right?!
I have always loved pottery. I love clay, and the things man makes out of it, just like I love anything natural: wood, stone, bamboo or wicker. It is a rudimentary way of using what’s God given. It’s simple.
So, I headed down 220S for about 40 some miles. Seagrove was quiet. Not sure whether the low temps scared people off the streets or what, but it was a ghost town. I could hardly find the Pottery Center, because there was no “noise”.
I visited The Pottery Center, learned about the Owen(s) and Cole – some of the first potters, or “turners” as they are called in the South, families who have laid the foundation of pottery making in these parts; learned about kilns, pronounced “kills” in these parts, and various glazes (lead, alkaline or ash, or even salt ones), also about Native American pottery, the first in this country, of course. I made a contribution to the center, to support it, and it’s educating the people about the ancient trade. I browsed in the museum’s store, and visited the Seagrove Pottery town store which was like a museum itself. The shelves were overloaded with “stuff”, all unique, not two pieces alike! I spent an hour in that town store, to probably the dismay of the two 16 year old girls who were manning it today!
Then, I headed North, towards home, again. I noticed a brown sign for ‘Pisgah Covered Bridge’ on 220N, so I decided to take that exit. I remembered my creativity professor, once upon a time: she advised us that sometimes, to find your creative well, it’s good to drive into nowhere, with no set destination, but just to pick a direction and see where it takes you. I thought this would be good practice for that.
I am also fascinated with covered bridges: why did they cover them? I understand tunnels, but covered bridges? All that lumber? For what?! For one very brief covered piece of one’s journey? They’re a mystery to me! Plus: I had never seen one in real life! I don’t think I have, at least. If I did, shame on my memory for not helping now! Another reason: I live off of a Pisgah Road - so, this is a must!
So, I drove. For a while. I just followed the signs towards the Pisgah Covered Bridge, and let me tell you: it’s hiding! You take a left, and then a right, and then another left, and then another left … I went for miles and miles and miles, without seeing a car. It was getting dusky, too, so I was getting antsy: where is this thing?? Will I have any picture opps by the time I get there?? Will I get shot by some redneck thinking I am trespassing?! It was no-man’s-land out there! Just woods, and more woods, and hills and streams, and pastures. I was sure I was going to get lost!
North Carolina drives like a bluegrass song. Rolling hills, sun peeking through leafless woods, “barns hooked up to satellite dishes”, rebel flags, pick up trucks with gun racks, and porches with swing doors; white picket fences and old tobacco barns that are falling apart, but they still store wood; lonely animals wondering why in the hell are they left out in 20 degree weather?! There is no grass! Everything is either picked, or “yella”, so they’re wondering why the hell they’re out here, in the open wind?! It’s lonely, and it’s open, and it’s quiet. It’s a fine ride, though! One where you can finally hear your thoughts, and know what you’re going to do tomorrow when that loser calls back! It does bring you back to … you. And it replenishes the well! So, the creativity professor was right.
I did eventually find the bridge. And it was neat, just like I hoped it would be. I still don’t know why they cover it. I wish my bridge, back in my teen years were covered, so folks won’t see me steal a kiss or two … Maybe that was it: ‘whatever happened under there, stayed there…’?! I am not sure whether I'd pick up and look for the covered bridges all over the country like Clint Eastwood in the "Madison County" movie, but still: it was fascinating! It was quiet, and lonely, and it looked new. I were to find out it was 1911 new, and it only cost $40 to build! Oh, the olden times!
I even found my way back with no trouble at all – maybe a couple of wrong turns or three – but they were all worth it. I figured, the sun slipping over the hills, and saying “good night” was proud of my guts for taking the less traveled roads, and finding the hidden treasures. And I know I will sleep better knowing that I have added to my memories the fine looks of North Carolina hills and the first covered bridge I remember seeing.
My kitchen pipes never did burst, and the water did run in the afternoon – so it didn’t need me at all to stay home and wait for it. And, see, it pays to be curious about a brown sign on the highway that you never noticed before. See for yourself.