I have not slept since Sunday ( it’s now five o’clock, Tuesday, on a warm October evening ). I am too wired for sleep just yet. I have flown, taken trains and driven miles upon miles upon miles across state lines in the good ‘ol US of A.
I learned all about bows and arrows from an amazing craftsman who goes by the name of Mike Treadway and before long found myself deep in the mountains of North Carolina, threatening a sponge deer with a handmade long bow. When not firing arrows into fake deer, I nibbled on grits and cornbread, hiked, drank in honky tonk bars, hiked, laughed in New York and threw a squeaky ball for a cute dog until my arm grew weak. Through no fault of my own I learned about a ‘skiff’ called Brenda and her owner’s deep abiding love for her, a love his ‘rattle snake of an ex-wife’ did not share or understand. I overheard the greatest outrage which had me snorting in restrained hysterics (‘I ain’t had no STD since March, so don’t you try lay that shit on me!’) I stood on the corner of 6th and 28th, camera ready, but too shy to photograph what I recognised to be a sign direct for my attention. I walked and I walked and I walked.
When not attached to my camera and notebook, I spent the rest of the time buried deep under a mound of maps and hunting books. I discovered cheese can come in a pressurised can. Opus –naturally – is delighted. I may have eaten my body weight in Reeces Pieces.
Now I am home, worn out and weary with a minging headcold. I have a mountain of notes and information to try make head or tails of and I’m cross-eyed from exhaustion. But forget all that boogy woogie. I am in awe. Awestruck by a country so vast and beautiful it fair took my breath away. Awestruck by the kindness of people, by friends who will drive through torrential storms, with nothing but German technology and a grey rat perched on their shoulders, indebted to hard working folk who willingly and graciously took time to talk, answer questions, show and teach and explain. I can’t say any more just yet only to say it was a hell of a ride and I am deeply grateful.
In the mean time, while I try to debrief and catch some shut-eye, check out this piece in The Times by the always generous Declan Burke. What a cool article to enjoy on the return. Ain’t life grand sometimes? Yes it surely is.