These vagabond shoes are longing to stray

The eye of Tropical Storm Isabel hit the Appalachians two nights ago. Her eye collapsed in upon itself, and she turned into Badass Rainstorm Isabel. She shouted about seven inches of rain upon the mountains around us before proceeding to New York. The local streams promptly overswelled their banks, and the Deer Run creek, usually not deep enough to sustain trout, became five feet of rambling whitewater. The sussurant sound of rain on the gabled roof was the only noise we heard until 4:00 a.m. exactly, when a wailing klaxon jolted us awake. The local volunteer fire department was being paged. To us bewildered white folk, it sounded like the end of the world.

The rain reluctantly died off after lunch yesterday, so we ventured out to the Treasure Mountain Festival. In California, the summer parade of Art and Wine festivals are all basically the same: you can buy the same silver-plated heart pendant jewelry, or dry-ice cherry sodas, or maintenance-free downspouts. Not so, the Treasure Mountain Festival. Our eyes fell on a small stand labelled APPLE BUTTER. Apple butter is a brown gooey concoction, best spread on toast or eaten in spoonfuls direct from the refrigerator door. Apple butter is boiled in a large black kettle (in this case, over an open outdoors fire) and then decanted into Ball jars with rusty metal tops. Contents of apple butter, according to the whitebeard that sold it to us, include apples, cinnamon, and “other.” We were sad to buy only two jars. I’m certain ten jars wouldn’t survive the upcoming trip to Tokyo. I also bought ten CDs of local bluegrass music, lovingly burned onto CD-Rs, with Scotch-taped labels from a color inkjet printer.

Bye bye, West Virginia. A teeny commuter plane is winging us from Washington, DC to JFK International. Only a day after the death of Isabel it’s a beautiful blue flight to New York City.

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