It was mid day, hot, and no time to stop for refreshment. Most folks were traveling with windows down. A car full of young black men was moving parallel along side us. The driver honked and after getting my attention waved an open can of beer at me. “Want a cool one, brother?” he offered. “Sure,” I replied, reached over and accomplished a beer relay without even a dip in speed. My driver kept pace perfectly so we obtained refreshments. I took a good sized swig and offered the can to the driver. He took a nip and handed it back to me. Not knowing if our neighbors were offering us the whole can, I looked over and pushed the half full can back out the window. The driver looked at me and questioned, “Do you eat pussy?’ “Sure”, I shot back. “Ok , keep the beer, I wouldn’t touch my lips to it, seeing where yours have been. Here’s another for the driver,” handing me a second cool one. Wanting to repay the kindness, I offered the only thing I was carrying, “Want any mushrooms?” “You mean those things that grow in cow shit? Man, you white folks put your lips on all kinds of stuff,” he teased back, declining my offer. “Stay cool brothers,” He added, then moved on ahead. It seemed the midday beer angel paid us a visit.
Shortly, I was let off near Chattanooga. Quickly, I was scooped up by Luke and Stephen. They were headed to visit a friend who lived east in the mountains of North Carolina and invited me along. “Yes,” I thought, “this detour is working out well.” My hosts were certain to point out a blight in their neighborhood. Long before we arrived, they described how a copper smelter had denuded a section of mountain valley on the way to Murphy, NC. Sure enough as we headed over a hill into Copper Basin, we were greeted by a sight that looked lunar but with red clay base. With this setting in mind , we continued on the way to Ralph’s cabin near Peachtree.
Getting there we decided a sojourn on mushrooms was called for as a way of mediating on the state of our planet, part that we just witnessed. Stephen, Luke and I hiked to a nearby summit to have a prolonged gaze into another reality. Ralph stayed near his cabin. Upon returning, we noticed Ralph standing in a pond holding the end of a sizable piece of rope. It ascended up into a large gum tree overhead. “What’s up?,” we asked. “Oh. I tied my camera up there and rigged this line to snap the shutter, so I can get a picture,” was the logical response. Sure enough the large rope was attached to a smaller line that ran to a camera secured in an upper limb. Just then he tugged the line, the camera dislodged from its perch, flew down, and splashed into the mud next to Ralph. He let out a curse then a wild laugh at the sight he presented. Covered with mud splash and camera deep into it, still with a sizable rope attached. We took it all in good humor.
Ralph changed course and became a chef. He fixed up an excellent example of Southern barbeque ribs. The meal complemented the setting and before retiring we sat around a fire and entertained ourselves with some bluegrass picking. The cool evening was a welcome relief to the heat I felt in the flatlands earlier that day. Gratitude was in order when I tucked myself into my bedroll.