We drive slowly through the narrow lanes, past Newport’s piers and shops, and once again admire the old Rhode Island town’s historic sea captain’s houses and millionaire’s mansions, then head out onto the scenic road that skirts Narragansett Bay.
The bay is hardly visible, as fog has swallowed up familiar scenes. One of our young companions looks out and observes, “It’s like the Newport Bridge never even existed!”
And so I am preoccupied with thoughts of bridges lost and drifting in the fog, of sailing ships and whaling ships, of those who must go down to the sea, of bodies and souls both tempest-tossed, of swirling surf and wild waves, of cabbages and kings.
Just then a snowy egret takes wing before my very eyes, bright pure holy white against the churning dark sea.
This day near the ocean is harsh and howling, its energy chaotic and its strength overwhelming and its roaring message sounding like a warning…It is a lovely day.
What with this powerful storm galloping toward the East Coast like the Four Horsemen unleashed, I decided this morning to do something I’ve meant to do ever since my first stay at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, which is located in the Shenandoah Valley in Amherst, Va. — to check out that hazy blue vision hovering in the western sky, the remarkable Blue Ridge Mountains.
So I drove westward along Highway 60 — through desolated abandoned hamlets at lonely crossroads, over whispering streams and flowing rivers, past green cow pastures and through deep autumn woods, up roads that kept swerving and curving higher and higher on a seemingly endless climb, as I glanced nervously at steep roadside ravines and gazed up in wonder at the soaring forested mountainsides.
I never made it to my destinations — the towns of Buena Vista and Lexington –because, by accident, I stumbled upon a most beautiful spot that is at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway and crosses paths with the famed Appalachian trail. I pulled over and got out of my car, and this is what I saw from my mountain aerie perched just beneath the clouds:
It was so beautiful up there that something magical apparently happened and my soul has been possessed by the ghost of John Denver, which is compelling me to include one of his most famous songs…OK, I know, I know, but he does mention the Blue Ridge Mountains, and fondly and quite sweetly, even though he apparently didn’t know that tthey’re in Virginia, not West Virginia.