Today’s miles: 15.2 on bike
Dobson to Traphill Road, Stone Mtn area
Overcaffeinated brainstorming while waiting out the rain in the Surry Inn room…
What is it about North Carolina in particular that makes it unique? Everything about barrier islands screams change and a relative simplicity in a world where ecological excess results in a complex struggle – competition, evolution. On the outer banks, the soil is sandy, the wind and water reign supreme and everything is ephemeral and ever-changing. It is a perfect arena to study relationships – between land and sea, sand and sun and water and plants, animals migrating and year-round residents (humans included), and our relationships with the land and how attitudes have changed from even the era of colonization. From small, personal relationship to pure economic gambling paid for by federal insurance.
Historically, freshwater dictates where most life can occur (save desert and marine organisms). We have worked around rivers, floods, lakes, springs, and wells. Farming has used local water to make food for local consumption. And then we got smarter than Ecology, Mother Nature, Magic, God, whatever you want to believe is in charge of the organization of the world.
Suddenly, it made sense to irrigate a desert golf course (but those beautiful natural sand traps!) and plug up a river beaver-style with a dam strong enough to control the flow of water but disallow the flow of fish. No biggie, we chant and toss in a few fish ladders, choke-hold traditional fishing, and genetically engineer those fishies. We stop eating fish (ethics, pollutants, slimy-gook, three eyes) and begin finding the winters more bluesy. Pop some pills for depression only to find all we’ve gotta do is Tom-Sawyer it down by the river with line and hook, build a 13-year-old dream raft and feel what it’s like to be alive. Remember that feeling? Not satisfaction or full or calm but neurons vibrating (there goes the coffee bean on its orbital turn around my head!).
After I got my crazy on at the little Surry Diner, I headed out to the road at about 12:30 by which time the rain had stopped. Everything, however, was cloaked in a thin layer of ice from the freezing rain, and as I peddled chunks of it would fall down from trees and powerlines and splat! on the pavement. Chased by a couple of dogs, the afternoon was cold (sub 35 all day) and gray. I biked to the Faith Baptist Church on Traphill Road and sat for a couple hours, mostly reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. I was going to stay the night on the porch but then a couple trucks pulled into the drive and rubber-necked, so I decided to move on. I went less than half-mile down the road and knocked on a door to a well-kept house. A nervous looking woman with hair curlers came around the side. I explained my situation, and she said, “Well, I don’t know. I’ve never been asked that before.”
I waited until her husband pulled up in a big tractor, and he came out of the house about 10 minutes later, and said that I could sleep in the barn. Here I am in the barn, by the bull munching on hay and the farm equipment covered in mud. I saw a skunk outside. I hope I don’t get a smelly visitor tonight. It’s also ironic that I am sleeping on the ground of a barn as I read the section in Guns Germs and Steel about how crowded domestic animals living close to humans is the source of most infectious diseases. Uh-oh. Tomorrow, to Greensboro to the Friends of the-Mountains-to-Sea annual meeting!
“Somewhere in the archives of crudest instinct is recorded the truth that it is better to be endangered and free than captive and comfortable.” – Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction