Monday, June 28, 2010

The new way to the beach

Just getting on Us 301 south in North Carolina from Rocky Mount to Topsail Beach, there are lots of deserted buildings and very few new or elaborate signs or buildings. There are plenty of signs only in Spanish, advertising frutas and such. Black-haired families sitting in parking lots in the opened trunks of 1990's era Dodge vans. But after a bit, North Carolina has added a new 4 lane highway, 795, to whisk you away from the sights of poverty to a nicer view and a more pleasant ride to the beaches. Here are fields and forests, cows and corn and tobacco. Now my first glimpse of the invasive Japanse kudzu since being in NC; it's taken over a patch of trees. Its large leaves and spindly vines seem pretty, yet people in the south "close their windows at night to keep it from growing in the house," a saying coined because it grows so fast (a foot a day). [Note: Here's a neat website that advocates kudzu: ...kudzu quiche?! kudzu paper, kudzu hay bales and baskets!] A cemetary next to a Budweiser plant next to a tobacco warehouse. "Large sweet cantolope" spray painted in black on a chipboard sign. "I luv used" in a red heart painted on an off-white cement building. Pine trees, browned grass, not many wildflowers although it's almost July. It's so hot here it must have dried everything out. Today it's 99ยบ. There are no strawberries in the strawberry pickin' fields. What does it mean if you put a white cloth out of the window of your broken down car on the side of the highway? That you need help? That you surrender? That you're in the local gang? Probably just means "this car's screwed." And now we've hooked up with I-40, the iconic east-west connector with its famous Barstow, CA 2,554 miles [a website documenting the signs along I-40]. In my high school town of Wilmington, if you'd seen the opppsite sign in California (which I had by the time I was 18) that was really something to talk about. Highway 17 to Topsail Beach looks the same as it always has, nothing too noteworthy, a mix of new and refurbished old with spots of green in between. We know water is to our right somewhere, but it's hidden by green. Then over the bridge into Surf City, a dead racoon marks our entrance. Now we're in between the sound and the ocean. Just after through the main intersection we get cutoff by a white SUV with a license plate that reads "CHUNKDOG," the driver fits to a T, white, bald, and quite chunky. Welcome to Topsail Beach.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

a nice thought while driving (yes, sometimes i write and drive)

i flew over the mountain
found a peaceful land
of flower and vegetable gardens and
gentle, kind creatures

when i grew old and died
my body floated up and away
and turned into a rainbow

my daughter shed tears of happiness
that turned into a crystal clear creek
all the creatures turned to drink from it

my grey hair had been cut
wispy and bright,
it was woven into jewelry
to be worn for generations

p.s. yeah i can get a little hippy dippy sometimes, but so what? it makes me feel good...