I traveled my highway today. It winds across West Virginia's west-central region, passing through small towns, and communities with names but only a few scattered houses.
I passed the road that travels past a lake to my son's house; I passed my own road, waving as I went.
I passed the place where Larry is helping a friend lay block for a house addition. I tooted my horn and drove on because I was on a tight schedule and a storm was threatening.
I passed the Peniel Store (best little store in Peniel because it's the only store) and noticed how vines are growing up the sides and across the eaves. How long will it be before the vines claim the building?
I drove through a small town that still has a movie theater with a window in front with old-time popcorn and Coke lettering. I passed Howard Fulk's old store and his house, where someone else now lives. I remember the ice hooks and the horse collar and mine lamp I bought from him, and how he told me he'd know me today but probably not tomorrow because Alzheimer's was taking its toll. I don't know if he died, or if he's in a home. All I know is he's gone and someone else is living in his house.
I passed the place my log barn used to be. It wasn't really my barn but every time we passed it, we'd talk about whether or not the owner would let us move it. One day we drove passed and the barn was gone. I was glad in a way because the tin roof was blowing off and it would not be long before the barn rotted away. Someone tore it down and I hope they re-used the logs to build a cabin, a room or even another barn.
I looked for the creasy greens in the place we picked them before but there are none to be seen at this time of year. I passed my walnut tree--not really mine, but a tree on the side of the road where I have stopped in the past to gather the nuts. No one seems to mind.
I passed the place where an old barn was torn down last year and saw a new gate had been built in the stone fence. I liked the old barn and the old gate, but all things change. At least the stone fence is still in place.
I passed the unique house on top of Sand Ridge, the place that was bought by a couple from Arizona or someplace West who didn't really seem to fit in. The place looks unkempt and I wonder if they moved out. The house will not last long without people to care for it.
I passed Susie's Place, a small bar that seems to survive no matter the economy. I noticed that Top Dog drilling support company in Stumptown is still growing, and the the old falling-down house and store across the road from Top Dog has been torn down. It needed to happen; the place was a danger. And yet it's one more piece of history gone.
I passed the road to Burnt House and recalled once again the story of how the community got its name. I had just told that story to the Toyota plant employees this morning. I resisted the urge to turn and revisit the place. Time pressed and the storm caught up with me. Rain fell in buckets.
I passed one closed post office after another: Sand Ridge, Leatherbark, Lockney, others.
I passed garden after garden, looking to see how they were getting on. There are some good gardeners on my road, but some gardens were struggling with weeds and lack of care. Potatoes are blighting.
I drove up, over and around mountain after mountain, recalling stories (Lower Run where I heard there is a haunted house, Rosedale Road with its pretty name, Pickle Street with yet another haunted house) and finally into Glenville where the WV State Folk Festival is in full swing. I pushed through water to a parking place, shut off the ignition and went off to tell stories. After the storytelling, I got back in my car and drove back along my
road, retracing the stories as I traveled, wondering what stories I have
Driving my road puts me in a storytelling frame of mind. There are stories all along my road, stories of my own imagining, stories of the doings of other people, stories waiting to be found.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.