Years ago I left the safety of home passing thru a gate much like this one. ‘Fail not the trail that leads beyond.’ This overcast day, shall I pass thru again for what may await inside, or pause, reflect and then move on.
. It's about 10 spirit-lifting miles from Sugar Grove to Flat Ridge over the mountain between the Holston and New River Headwaters. Over the mountain between the Raccoon Branch and Jerry Creek headwaters to bring the scale down to truck level, to belly level stoked with pork tenderloin, scrambled eggs and Peggy's sweet honey. It's 10:30 am. A late start for me, but it's been raining for four days and all this morning. No need to chase morning light. No need to read maps, no need to look for stops and shots. I know them by heart. I've traveled this road many times over, a natural North-South track, quiet, local, forested with lots of old values. It's 10:45 am. The Old Pasture Gate. I've leaned on it and talked to it. I've marveled at it's endurance and the lovely fields beyond. With film and computer chip. Spring and Fall. Hot sun and, today, foggy rain. It's beyond me to explain my love for this old gate. But, no need.
. County Road 601 Grayson County, Virginia Wednesday 27 May 2009
Twenty years ago an itinerant photographer would be greeted by local folks with genuine hospitality delighted that an outsider would travel so far to enjoy their mountain countryside. "You mean, you come here, on purpose, for your vacation," would be a typical reaction. "We leave here for vacation." (I loved those conversations.) Itinerant photographers are now greeted with a degree of suspicion I never used to see and, more recently, with outright hostility. The general prosperity of the 1990s rudely transformed the rural mountain areas in the five states I know very well: Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Everywhere transformed, right before my incredulous eyes. Folks tell me about the influx of 'outsiders' with a romanticized view of the mountains - how mountains should look and be - clashing headlong with their old way of life and the ethos spawned by generations of mountain tribes. They worked the land, for a simple living. Earlier this morning, as I was photographing an abandoned car in an empty field, a young man slid to an angry stop beside me. Expecting my do-gooder pictures were intended to take him to Court he voiced his displeasure in a way that could be clearly understood. He could not be calmed nor persuaded that my intentions were supportive of his 'way of life' and spun away emotional fires blazing, "if you're lookin' for a f***ing fight, you've come to the right place." That was really sad for me to be roughly and so incorrectly judged. And sad for him, too, that he missed the chance to get to know Doctor Flowers a little better. Mercifully, I soon found this hospitable pasture gate bridging both sides of the fence, waiting for me in a gentle rain and quiet morning fog.
The ole King Devil (Hieracium praetense) doesn't notice or care that it's not a beautiful aged rustic wood rail fence but a state-of-the-art mass-produced regularly rectangled properly installed steel wire screen instead.
Maybe ole Doc Flowers can learn something important from this many-headed Hawkweed.
King Devil Casts its own shadow Weathered rail fence