Thank Those Foggy Stars

I drive up out of the valley through the syrupy fog to the top of Seven Mile Ridge. This is the back way to GP’s new rental and I owe him a visit. The ridge tops out at around 4,000 feet, then it’s a right turn to cut down the backside of Chestnut Mountain. From there, I take another right onto Crabtree Falls and follow the black, snaking road across the county line, through townships and fire districts, past the Blue Ridge Parkway, and finally to 226A and the small, hilltop town we’ll call Little Sweden.

On a clear night, it’s worth seeking the few turnouts on this route to park the car and take in the view. From the ridgeline it’s possible to see all the way to Charlotte – two and a half hours away by car. But more than likely, the view is glazed with fog that sugarcoats the mountain view and makes the cabins that dot the cliff sides feel placeless.

Tonight is such a night and so it is that I find myself swimming in the mountains, floating above the pavement, buried in a lightness, and all other forms of sensorial paradoxes that the imagination could dream up. It’s a 14 mile drive from my place to GP’s and tonight it takes thirty minutes. Still fairly good by mountain fog standards and I only had one scare when a snow-white dog the size of a baby polar bear bounded down the slopes of his territory, hurling his body at what seemed like certain velocity in the direction of my two ton vehicle. Of course, the bear-dog knew better and was only doing his part. He stopped just short of the fog line on the road, his flesh still leaping forward and bunching up around his shoulders and collar as his four paws stood firmly on the ground.

Bark. Bark.

I debate about the proper response. A honk from one beastly body to another? Roll down my window and arf-arf back at him? But before I can decide, time moves faster than the car and the car moves faster than my brain and then the dog is gone, fading into a foggy circle of light reflected in my side view mirror.

I thank the stars I cannot see but are surely somewhere overhead. Thank them for bear-dogs and holidays and mountain passes and even for the fog. Thank them for fog lines and loving parents and Chinese medicine and sensitive ex-lovers. Thank them for poetry and particularly, Bob Dylan, Stanely Kunitz, Walt Whitman, and these days, Joseph Millar and Oscar Wilde.

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