Fifteen hours to get there; sixteen coming back. We used to swim in this river; climb into an inner-tube and float down under the bridge that no longer exists. Water's way too low this time though; you can literally walk from one shore to the other. The rocks on the bottom are covered with thick brown crud, very slippery; hard on the feet because some are also sharp. A foamy bubbly residue sometimes floats by. Further on up river by the eddies, swimming was happening, where you can still find the odd, deep (up to or over the shoulder) swim hole. We used to be able to dive for fish hooks, could open your eyes underwater and see every fish and pebble, clearly. Notsomuch anymore.
The area badly needs rain. It was hot, humid, and basically a drought. Not good news for the gas drillers up on top the mountain. Fracking takes an enormous amount of water.
In the early morning a fog descends and the quiet is deafening. I was watching the river, from a third-floor window, and it was absolutely STILL. Not a breath of a ripple, current, or movement of any kind but of course that can't be true. Rivers don't just sit there; they "flow". It did, but so slowly you could barely detect it.
I was not prepared for the shock of changes. My grandparents' old house, boarded up, its bricks falling inward into empty space; the other grandparents' graves in danger of sliding down the mountainside (the church can no longer afford to keep up the grounds). Caravans of trucks going up and down the mountain on steep, narrow, winding roads hauling sand & equipment; three families report their chickens have died; a farmer in another county, his cows all died after a leak from the drilling operations seeped into his property. Lost his entire dairy farm business. Folks here have mixed feelings about the gas drilling, worry about their water supply, etc.
You used to be able to buy pine tar soap here; looked all over, none to be found. They still sell teaberry ice cream, though. Wonderful to see the family & all the cousins again. Megabussed back with dozens of other weary travelers and am off again tomorrow, this time south, to Beantown with the rideshare peeps. Parts of my garden have turned into a mini-jungle since my absence, or so it seems. Thinking about all the projects/research/reading/writing, etc. waiting when I get back. All of which I'm looking forward to. And to Boston as well. The summer's passing too quickly. It's as if time's been fastforwarded and am still collecting impressions, not yet ready to unpack.
August already, jeepers.