Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Road Home...

The road home, of course, begins with chocolate. Unfortunately Jenny was unable to join us the previous night at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge with Ms. Cherie. So we made a pitstop on our way to Pennsylvania. It would have been easy to sit there all day with the liquid truffles, chatting and catching up over ceramic mugs of molten chocolate... but we had to get on the road.

I didn't get a chance to see our friend Meg Carswell Reilley this trip, but was nice to feel her presence with her photographs gracing some of the walls.

Above are the mugs (handcrafted by local potter) filled with the mouthwateringly delicious, ganache-based beverages. Mine was the maple flavor, which consists of a blend of milk and dark chocolate, maple syrup, butter and a sprinkling of smoked salt. Jenny's was the Indian kulfi. It's a mix of milk chocolate, kulfi, rose, pistachio, and cardamon.

After having lived in New York for many years, I have become a little desensitized to graffiti. It's everywhere! And it seems like there's always some young artist dying to be heard and trying to be the next Jean-Michel Basquiat, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, or Barry McGee. But every now and then, I come across a piece of street art that stops me in my tracks. Layered on top of the cover-up of other graffiti, the paper bird composed of flowing lines looked all the more tragic and as a result... all the more beautiful.

We wound our way northward, through the mountains of West Virginia. The day seemed perfect. We made a short stop at the New River Gorge Bridge lookout. It's a steel arch bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia, which you might recall its likeness appearing on the commemorative West Virginia quarter.

As the roads became more twisted and the drops steeper, our perfect day quickly turned into dark clouds raining heavily and pelting the car with hailstones. It got so bad that we had to pull over. High winds had knocked signs over that blended in with the dark sparkle of rain-slicked roads, making us nervous as we went over them, fearing that the tires would blow out. It was a tense time, but we triumphed... coming in only three hours after our original expected arrival time.

We ended the long day with a glass of wine and the Ten Commandments.

We celebrated Easter together. It wasn't the first time that we celebrated this spring-time holiday together. Back in New York, Jenny and her partner used to host an annual Spring Feast. Isn't it odd how we always manage to see the same people at the same time of year?

This was her first trip out here and we took her to see Buttermilk Falls. It's just a short drive away and a good starting point for any trip.

Sprinkled along the trail were trillium erectum blossoms. Some call this dark red, almost purplish bloom, "Stinking Benjamin". Apparently it has a pungent odor akin to rotting meat that attracts flies for pollination. (I didn't notice anything, but perhaps it's a smell detected by insects.) An odd fact about trilliums is that they are spread by ants. Their fertilized ovums are carried and transplanted by the tiny bugs. Isn't it fascinating how interlaced this flower is to its surroundings and the creatures within it?

Near the falls is a "barren" patch for the electric lines. Above is a picture of Jenny there. In truth, it's covered with a carpet of golden grasses, spongy mosses and star-shaped lichen.

It seemed that where ever we went, there was always carvings in the trees. Whether we were off the roads of West Virginia, walking down the streets of Asheville, or picking our way along the paths of Pennsylvania... there they were. Although I don't like the idea of cutting up trees, there's something to be said for wanting to be remembered – to want to freeze a moment or make a love last. Maybe there's something primal, a need to leave behind a marker or evidence of having lived and loved?

Jenny had expressed an interest in the Johnstown floods. She had read about them as a girl and was curious to see where they had actually taken place. So we went to Johnstown to ride the Inclined Plane. It's the world's steepest vehicular incline and one of the best views in town. Almost the entire city can be seen from the observation decks.

We mostly saw flowers and wide expanses of country on her visit. Mostly everything was closed for the holiday. We did a tour of Blairsville and Ligonier. Both were mostly empty.

It was good to see my friend and show her around where I live. It was good to reconnect, after time apart and share a little bit of my home.


Holly Lea Baldwin said...

Andrew your posts are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing your world with all of us. Your words add extra layers of vibrant color and deep thought. Amazing.


Cynthia Thornton said...

Hey! That's a great picture of Jenny - very natural, as though you caught her just as something very humorous was said.

Andrew Thornton said...

We're always having a laugh. It was most definitely captured as something sassy was said.

Unknown said...

I love the waterfall, what a beautiful setting. The white trillium is our provincial (Ontario) flower.