Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Taking the Back Roads

      I jumped out of bed a few Saturdays back to head up to North Georgia for a bluegrass festival. Jump out of bed might be stretching the truth some because it was after ten before I got out the door. I knew where I was going. Sort of. I’d been there before and it’s near a couple of rivers I paddle. There is, however, a difference between knowing and sort of knowing. You know you’re lost when you are headed to North Georgia and see signs for Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina.  I doubled back to Toccoa and hit the back roads.  It made sense at the time or maybe I just needed a break from the peddle to the metal urgency I’d been feeling.
   You can get really lost on the back roads. That’s why I like them. I like what I discover along the way.  It helps that I know that I will eventually get where I need to be.  First you must surrender any idea that you actually know where you are going, just drop all resistance and enjoy the ride. Roll down the windows and take it all in.  Turn up the radio and sing along to the country songs you pretend you don’t know and secretly love.
    I saw all the things I love about small southern towns and mountain towns in particular.  When I stopped up around Blairsville for gas the woman behind the counter was singing softly and when she saw me she stopped and smiled, “Would you like to see something pretty?”  I expected to see a quilt piece or some knitting.  When she turned around she handed me an infant girl. “This is my first grandbaby. Isn’t she a pretty thing?”  She was just that and as sweet as she could be.   There were potters and quilters and old men selling sourwood honey and blackberry jam.  I stopped for boiled peanuts and the view near Ellijay and told the older woman counting out my change that I thought I might be lost. She patted me on the back and said, “You better take that up with the man upstairs honey."   I just laughed because the one thing I know for sure is that I’m not lost and have never been lost.  It doesn’t mean I always know where I’m going or how I’m getting there. That’s where faith comes in. A GPS is also good.
     The weather turned blustery when I pulled into the festival.  I found a jam, (bluegrass not blackberry), with some people I know and took out my fiddle and sat in a couple of fiddle songs then asked if I could sing a song.  One of the songs I sing is I Am a Pilgrim  Leah Calvert who was my fiddle teacher with a great voice suggested that it would be a good song for me to sing and she was right.    

I am a pilgrim and a stranger
                                    Traveling through this worrisome land
                                    I’ve got a home in that yonder city
                                    And it’s not, not made by hand.

     There’s a lot faith in those lyrics and I like singing them. I’ve liked living them too. And the worrisome part of life? It’s all part of the wilderness experience of being human. I sang a couple of more songs then the wind picked up and it got a little hard trying to fiddle and hold down the hem of my new spring dress so I headed home. A wise woman always pays attention and knows when it’s time to go home.  I met wonderful people, saw beauty everywhere I looked and experienced love in the most unlikely places. The journey was great but it was time to go home and home is just where I went.  It’s either fear or love baby and in case you forgot, home is where the love is. Pretty simple when you come right down to it isn’t it?

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