Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Grey Pilgrim

Fall came today. This isn't to say that by the end of the week we might be back up to 100, but today was, for me, the first day of fall in Kentucky. You can just see the tips of the trees starting to think about turning brown on the tops of the mountains, and everywhere you go, cool breezes shake the first of the falling leaves down, warning the wildflowers of their impending doom in the form of an early frost.
Joe, Jennie, and I went to mass up in the big city of Berea, KY at St. Claire's. (as an aside, I should probably tell you about Joe, since he is on my crew and is a large part of my day in and day out interaction. Joe is a 77 year old man from New Orleans and is a long time volunteer, on and off, with CAP. He has several children, of which he talks often, and is a huge Boston Red Sox fan. Often times, Ross (our fearless crew leader/local hero) will tell Joe that he will make a carpenter out of him, even if he has to marry Joe to a woman with the last name of carpenter. Coincidentally, there is a lovely woman who lives just up Deer Lick road with a bottom this big (extends arms to full wing span) who is just perfect for Joe. Not only that, her father has now taken to paying young gentlemen to take her out on the town. As a reply to Ross' threats/offers, Joe often exclaims, "I AIN'T MARRYING NO CARPENTER WOMAN" then ferociously starts to hammer with much more vigor and accuracy. Joe is a former lawyer and politician down in Louisiana. These characteristics often show through when Joe exclaims, "You're working me too hard today Ross, you ought to be ashamed of yourself" or "never worked so hard in my life". Joe has also taken to 'volunteering' my services to everyone in town. For example, the janitor up at camp needed help with the toilets, and Joe was more than happy to let her know that I was available and that toilets just happened to be my specialty. She was delighted. In all honesty though, he has a heart of gold and has been one of my closest friends here so far. (one might go so far as to say that he is the Gandalf to my Sam...if one was so inclined). We are alike in many ways, except Joe is a STAUNCH Democrat.... I told him I'd discuss politics with him in 3 months. But, our conversation mostly sticks to him working too hard, faith, and Ross' frequency and strength of flatulence.)
Mass at St Claire's was delightful, as was the entire city of Berea. After mass, we stopped by a local pizza place. Berea is a small Christian liberal arts school where every student pays their own way through by working in the community. Students pay for their books, but they also have a job locally which covers their tuition costs. Originally, the school was started to aid Appalachian youth in getting a quality education and apparently, it continues to provide such quality to this day. It had all the charm of a small liberal arts school. I could've sworn - eating that pizza, staring out the window at the brick buildings and turning leaves, feeling the cold breeze drifting through the cracks in the old wood floor, that I was back in Champaign on a Sunday afternoon.
Later in the day, I was taken back to a pseudo-Champaign place when Laura and I were on a run. Running in one of the only flat parts of the state, there was a large corn field which had browned nicely and waited to be harvested. Smelling the corn and staring up at the crisp blue sky fading into an orange and purple sunset, I could've sworn I was running down Race street, or coming up First Street just past the south farms. But I was not. I was in Kentucky. And it is right where I needed to be.

Phrase of the Day: in New York accent: (yeah we're still doing that) "Bears defense, they'll bust yo head, forget aboud it"


a.e. nee said...

this is really good,maybe your best yet. you inspired me to open a blogspot. so far it has just been a transferral of my most recent myspace entries, but it's a start anyway. cheers.

-amy nee

John said...

I thought I was your Gandalf. What is this whorishness? Did you replace me? Sad day. I'm glad to hear things are going well for you bud. Stay out of trouble and away from the durchfall.

Peace, John