Thursday, February 24, 2011

The bugs, the bulls, and the bells.

VFrom Midway, where I had washed all my blankets and clothes my van smelled fresh but the baby-wipe bath, Bag balm protection and cologne left me lacking that spring fresh feeling as I began what turned out to begin my three day walk thru Chatham County-Savannah Metro. A thirty two and one half mile odyssey. I must have prepared fairly well because the gnat-flies weren't interested in me, at one point early the first day a man passed me and I could see the bugs swarming all around him even from across the road.
The first miles were calm, the wind gently helping us move toward Richmond Hill. I crossed an intersection where a man in a Jeep was taking a photo of us as he waited to turn, I asked for some help to get some air in the soft world. He quickly agreed and pulled off to the side so we could plug in the air pump to his lighter socket. As I pumped up the world I said, "I guess you want to know what I'm doing." He replied,"It's none of my d-----d business. If you don't want to tell me, I don't need to know." I have never gotten that response before, especially from a person so willing to help me. Georgia is friendly like that out in the country. We ended up talking for awhile about health, and the difference between city dwellers and country folk. His name was Bo and he was as down to earth as they come. My next fill up was from a sweet southern bell who wanted to know my story for her "little friends" in her preschool class. She thought they would be so excited about our adventure. I found a large white feather, the prettiest I had ever found on my walks and later gave it to a woman who stopped whose husband had just been diagnosed with diabetes. She appreciated the gift and the message to walk with the ones you love to help them stay healthy. She was going to hang the feather from the mirror of her pretty white truck. Then there were the three young men with a four wheeler in the back of their little pick up who wanted to see if I wanted to sell he world but admitted they only had five dollars and still needed to gas up the ATV. You've gotta' love the country friendliness. That is about the time the wind picked up, which really got the ball rolling.

When I got to the far side of Richmond Hill at the last road before a long straight to the river I foun a municpal building and a fire house, side by side, where I was sure I could have stayed. It was almost four, we had walked thirteen miles, but something spurred me to go back from the parking lot I stood in. I looked at my watch, it was three fifty six. Driven, I rolled on another five and a half miles where I stayed the night. An astrology buff I know was talking to me the next day, in conversation she shared the time Mercury passed into a new position. The same moment I felt the urge like quick silver-mercury to charge on. The bridge crossing was so windy the ball buffeted and spun against the bridge rail, by the far side of the river the cool wind had made the world flop as I rolled it. On one side of the road was Loves restaurant and marina, on the other side was a park closed for construction. Gated off, it still allowed for a couple who had stopped for a picture. Instead of stopping for the night at the Marina I asked for use of their lighter socket and pressed on. I walked a longer distance than I had ever walked pushing walking the dog, carrying a pack. It was the wind that spurred me on and not the changes in the stars.
I was in Savannah, the destination I had been pressed to give since beginning this journey. I was on the outskirts, I just had to make it to downtown and the river. On the second day we made our way just before an expressway where there were many motels. During this long walk I had not gotten a room, always sleeping in my van. I thought since I would be in the historic downtown the next day I deserved a shower, a relaxing night in a bed for the first time since the first week in January and checked in to the cleanest looking pace. The manager rode me to the van and I then settled in, took a shower and cleaned the dirt from days of wind and filth blowing on me. Then I realized I was just a gueast imn a house of roaches.they where crawling up the walls, out of the electrical sockets and the final straw was when one walked across the bed to see what I was eating. I picked up my things, took them to the van, returned my key to the front desk and parked in a vacant lot on the other side of the highway for the night. The manager said he'd give me a different room. I just wanted to get as far away as I could from the building. I had gotten my expensive shower and just wanted to sleep.the van is comfortable and bug free.
The last day in Georgia we were up and going early to make sure we could get to the historic downtown. After walking through a depressed section of town where every house was in need of paint I turned onto Bull street because I liked the name. It let me directly into the park s and tourist section and the beauty the city is known for. Fields, fountains, monuments, historic markers, churches and homes rich in architecture steeped in southern culture. in that setting I was intervieweed by the college press and three beautiful bells from Southern Magazine before I made my way to River Street, the cobblestone riverside walk and the ferry. My hope was to get to my next state by the way of the ferry. I thought it was a long-shot but gave it a try. The ball was to large and the mansaid he could not accommodate us. While walking over to the cobblstone rampway up to the old town center a woman ran up to me asking when the the show was going to begin. The dock was lined with local street people who weave grass flowers and things to sell to the tourists so I guessed I was thought to be another attraction for the visitors to the city. My weathered hat, cane and mountain man look I am sure begged for an old southern story. In New York City we got the same sort of response as if we fit in to the city and it's catering to the tourist's entertainment.
I walked up the ramp and found myself at the cotton exchange of old. It was also the Freemason's hall. Next to it was displayed the oldest bell in Georgia that chimmed the cities important events . It would also be rung each evening to announce the end oof business. As I read the historic marker, a far off church bell chimed. My business here was concluded.
As I was standing there a young man walked up to ask my purpose. He reminded me of my son, not in looks so much, still his demeanor had me thinking of my boy. He was working across the street at The Outback Steak House and offered to ride us to the van when he got off work in an hour and a half. That gave me enough time to pull the plug in the world and fold it into a neat package. While I was waiting for the world to melt into a pile of canvas a young family stopped to take a picture of the Mason's Hall. The farher had an infant in a cloth carrier on his chest and I was again reminded of my only child, when I carried him in the same manner. Then a young mother with her parents came to pose in front of the old town center with her newborn and I was swept to the memory when I was walking my new baby in our neighborhood. It was his first spring, he was just beginning to notice things beyond the faces of his parents. As I walked around our block he saw at tree with its spring leaves and gasped in awe. Then noticed the blue sky and clouds. He gasped again. A house, a gasp! Flowers! A gasp! All the sights and smells were rushing over his senses! The newness was too muich for him, he was gasping air in but was too young to know that he needed to exhale. I was his tiny hands turning blue and rushed him frantically back into the house so he would breath again,where he could relax in the comfort of his parents arms, the familiar face of his protectors.
I longed for my son face again.
The young man later pulled uop in his small car and we packed the world, the dog and all into it. It smelled of the musty musk that young traveling kids have. The young man was saving his money for spring when he was going to walk the Appalachian Trail. We talked of life, his urge to travel, the young urge for new sights and experience. He shared to hardship he went through with his Mother death to diabetes; the amputation of her leg, the debilitating decline. I could sense in him another reason for his travels. When he dropped me off he thanked me for what I was doing and praised the good cause. I thanked him and longed for the sight and musty smell of my own son.
I drove to the bridge and crossed the Savannah River into South Carolina. And called home where my son was visiting his mother before he began his journey to get to Europe. He had left her and gone to visit a friend by the Kentucky, Tennessee border. I know it may be a long time before I see him again so I called him and drove through the night, through blinding rain storms to hug my son, and yes, smell his musty odor.
I have not had a rain day, a day of rest since I began this trek. In two weeks it will be over.
For the love of my son, I am taking a couple days off.

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