2017-11-01 / Opinion

BACKROADS AND BOBTAILS

Outrunning the Blues
by Bob Kornegay

Doin’ the road. Runnin’ from the blues. Motorized. Too hot to walk.

Maybe too hot to drive soon. My truck’s air conditioner only works on one speed. One, two and three went out some time ago. Praying number four stays reliable. I run it awhile; then switch it off awhile. Freeze/sweat, freeze/sweat. Nothing to kick about. A fella gets used to it after a time.

Nice out here, the scenery. Dry-brown in some places, wet-green in others. A coastal plain Indian summer. Some folks get rain, some don’t. Someone’s getting it just east of here. Slategray cloud pregnant with moisture. Some lightning, but not much. “Don’t take much,” my uncle would’ve said. He was also fond of, “It ain’t rainin’ less’n it’s rainin’ on you.

I bird a little as I drive. Never know, might spot something rare. Bad time of day, though. Just mockingbirds. And vultures. I occupy myself for a few minutes picking out the odd black vulture in the turkey vulture flocks. Good pastime, birding. Always something to see, even if you’ve seen it before.

I motor on, smiling at a remembered line from a Carl Hiaasen novel: Never eat catfish before an alligator wrestling match because “them @#$%&! devil lizards can smell it on your breath.” I think weird things at weird times. Still, it’s nice to smile.

I don’t smile at the road litter. Or the hardwood clearcuts. Clearcutting hardwoods has always bothered me. Planted pines not so much. John Muir once said, “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” Thank you, Mr. Muir. That one’s a keeper.

The road twists and turns, and for a short time I’m reminded of the mountains. Not long, though. Too far south. The road soon straightens. The land flattens again. Left turn north along the Alabama/Georgia border. The lower Chattahoochee, west bank.

Walter F. George Dam. Not pretty, but imposing. Cormorants loaf on the rocks while migrating swallows fly up, down and over the wall. Well worth watching, but too hot to linger long on the pedestrian walkway. I return to the truck. A/C setting #4 still works. Praise be.

I idle the engine and sit watching the catfishermen awhile. Better men than I, I think. Lord, it’s way too hot to fish.

I drive again, headed west, looking for pasture waterholes and maybe a vagrant sandpiper or two. Nothing. No water, no birds. Dry here. It ain’t rainin’ less’n it’s rainin’ on you. I sing the words, trying to make up a ditty. Doesn’t work. Makes no sense at all.

Wait. Here’s a wet spot. I pull off on the shoulder and glass the pond. Two great egrets and a few killdeer. Good banks, though. Receding-water mudflats. Maybe the sandpipers will come in later.

No. The blues again. Gotta roll. Moving helps some. A/C, don’t fail me now.

Back home. I pick up my journal. I log my day. I get wordy. Ya’ll know that, of course. My entries read like a cross between a legal contract and Lamentations, Chapters 1-5. Put it down, boy, put it down.

Sleep. Hopefully dreamless. Or at least dreams of places where evenings are cool and they don’t cut down the oaks and hickories.

Tomorrow. Doin’ the road. Runnin’ from the blues. Motorized. Miles and miles. Iffy air conditioner be hanged. Wasting energy, wasting time.

“You ain’t practicin’ what you preach, runnin’ around burnin’ all that gas,” says a voice from inside. Come on, if I’m going to start hearing voices, must they all sound like my uncle’s? Gimme a break.

“Okay,” says voice #2, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Enough already! From my uncle to Pogo the ‘Possum? Please!

Trouble is, though, they both speak the truth.

Oh, boy. Just what I need.

More blues to run from.

Maybe it’s the heat. I’ll start earlier tomorrow. Cool fall mornings make great blues chasers.

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