Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blackstone, VA: Welcome to the South

Miles since last blog: 29.6

The word of the day is "dogs." But we'll get to that later.

Yes, I am officially in the South. Red Country for sure during this election year. Today, I passed my first rebel flag on a flagpole in someone's front yard. A short time later I was nearly hit by a raised and camouflaged, mud covered 4x4 with a rebel flag front license plate. The South, but not just the South, the backwoods. Yes, my excitement at new experiences and country soon turned to fear as I heard footsteps through the woods. I kept waiting for someone to yell, "PURTY MOUTH!" and for hill people to comes flooding out of the woods, feet as bare as their gums.

To console myself I laughed off my movie driven anxieties with some southern music, 'Big Old Jet Airliner' by Steve Miller Band (which incidentally I thought was Big Old Jed and Lina when I was young, why that mean couple was carrying him away I don't know), just I was starting to get into this swing of things and singing the first of the periodic shotgun blasts started. They would be present off and on throughout the rest of the day. You have to understand, I grew up in the Bay Area first, gun shots were not signs of fun there, they were signs of robberies and murders, that kind of thing sticks with you, especially in unfamiliar places.

Of course the other thing you always hear about the South is about incredible hospitality, and I will say that today most people passing me waved and I was offered my first ride, which I of course declined.

There was a lot to today, but the most important thing to talk about is dogs, I'll leave the rest for the book ;) I haven't been afraid of a dog since my uncles pit bull R.I.P. took a bite out of my butt when I was a kid. Previous to that the only dog I was afraid of was my Grandma's Chihuahua 'Chiquita,' who in retrospect was likely a Gremlin. But today a pair of Doberman Pinchers scared me pretty good. You see, houses out here range from trailors to grand estates but most of them have a few things in common: giant yards, and no fences.

I being a city boy, see a dog off leash in a front yard and think, "ooh, one of those nifty electric fences."

When the dog gets closer, I think, "Wow, that fence is really big."

Closer still, "Hmmm, I don't see the collar, perhaps he's just trained to stay on the property."

And finally when the dog's nails are tapping on the asphalt 5 feet behind you, "Uh oh."

Ultimately, I was not attacked, but it was only the first in a series of dog run ins, most at night when I can't see them and don't know they are there until they are feet away from me and still running.

A few nights ago the night was peaceful and beautiful, tonight as I tried to make it to the camp Free had set up, I was trying to tip-toe on blisters past houses in the dark in case they had dogs.

Now we sit in a tent on a dirt road, sounds, not always nature sounds, are all around us. Did I just hear a whisper?

"Purdy Mouth . . . "

1 comment:

Lahaina Lee said...

Jet Airliner was Steve Miller, another southern rocker who spent a lot of time playing in San Francisco. Miller's guitar teacher was Les Paul. In the original Steve Miller band the back up guitarist was Boz Scaggs.

And,if you didn't make fun of the way people talk in Boston and New Jersey, you might want to think twice about the South. You're going to be there for a long time and contrary to popular belief, they can read.