Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Touching Base with Tossie

Traveling north on highways through eastern Georgia, we stopped at a roadside stand of an orchard owner for directions, a bag of apples, and a jar of sugarless Muscatine jelly, which has added the sweet grape flavor to our breakfast toast here at Woodsong. I also couldn’t resist a paper bag of horehound candies, a treat my father used to bring home from Rixlebin Pharmacy in Jonesboro and our mother would have us cough to receive our piece.

We crossed the bridge at Ellijay and continued north into Tennessee, where we passed more villages reminding us of the Cherokee--Ducktown, Turtletown, and Tellico Plains. Somewhere along here we saw a sign pointing to White Path Springs, and I wished we had time to go I thought of the death and burial of the revered elder chief who at my age had to be left behind buried in the foreign soil of Hopkinsville, KY, with a make-shift wooden monument painted to look like marble. A tall pole with white linen flag was placed so the following detachments of displaced Cherokee could mourn his passing.

During this twilight drive, where out road ran through the southern part of the Cherokee National Forrest, I could certainly understand his people’s heartbreak at being forced to leave their homeland in these beautiful mountains. Soon it was dark and the winding road spiraled through the tall green trees. As the night darkened and the curving road was constant, we hoped we wouldn’t meet anyone. We begin to think about the need for a motel. Most of the time, there were no houses and no lodging in sight. Light rain started making the darkness lit by our headlights magically lovely but diminishing driving visibility. We passed the little town Mount Vernon with few houses, and once we enjoyed the delightful scene of small children playing outside in a lit church yard evidently after the evening service while their parents lingered and visited.

As the rain intensified, we were grateful we seldom met a car and were relieved when we found a motel in Madisonville and could pull off the road. After we secured a room by using the phone placed outside the locked office, we went next door for a sandwich before retiring. With the car backed up to our room, we unloaded our bags from the trunk under the cover of the large umbrella we had used for shade at the softball games. We were soon in bed and slept well until almost 6 the next morning.

On up the road, we called our friend Tossie from Shoneys, where we had a great breakfast and abundance of coffee. After driving through the rest of Tennessee, we passed Jellico and entered Kentucky and were soon at Williamsburg. This was our first visit with our long-time dear friend since she moved down from their mountain home and into town. That home on the mountain was one of my all-time favorite houses with two of my very favorite rooms—Chester’s large formal library where he studied and wrote and a dining room built to hold the antique table where wonderful meals and conversations took place. .

After Chester’s long illness and death, Tossie had donated Chester’s library to his alma mater Berea College. She had started giving away furniture before she went to American Samoa to work in a library there, but plans to sell came to a halt. She stayed on top of the mountain by herself for a few years after the Samoa adventure. We visited her there once more and enjoyed the new sunroom and watching the birds as well as eating with her friends at the dining room table. That visit on a drive around town, she even showed us the apartment she thought she might move into someday. However, we knew she had changed her plans. Instead she moved into a house next door to a friend, who had decided to completely redo a small house instead of tearing it down.

We found the yellow house without difficulty and Tossie was outside to greet us. She had once more moved her mother’s iris and mint to a bed in the front yard,. In the large back yard, she had beautiful trees. With plenty of privacy to play her piano as loud as she wants, the house seems just right for her: aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, practical, filled with antiques in use and mementoes of a life well lived. Soon we were hearing stories of how everything worked out perfectly as she gave away her furniture and sold the mountain home to a friend. I loved knowing the antique dining room table was still in place on top of the mountain.

Gerald showed his photo albums, and they reminisced about the Hawaiian children in the church where Chester served as pastor. Tossie was able to bring Gerald up-to-date news of the successes of some of the boys he had coached and driven around the island in the church van while the boys teasingly tried to get him lost. And, of course, we wanted updates on all her children and grandchildren, whose pictures were scattered around.

Since she had a long-scheduled check up with a doctor at Corbin that afternoon, we left behind the yellow house and had lunch in Corbin so we could use every minute talking until time for her appointment and our departure. She had the guest room ready in case we decided to accept her invitation to spend the night, but we were anxious to find if everything were okay after the 60-mile winds left-over from Ike had hit Southern Illinois the previous night.

Before we returned to Woodsong, we drove to the other farm to see if Brian’s corn crop was still standing and it was. Gerald was pleased that Bryce had done some more improvement on the ditch he and the highway people have been working on. Everything looked good there. As we drove up to our house and saw that our crop of sunflowers, which were still blooming beautifully when we left, were now all blown over and comically askew on the ground, we had to laugh. Unlike many homes in our area, our house’s electricity had not gone off, and we settled in for an evening of reading the accumulated newspapers.


Meg in Tally said...

You guys really get around!

I love the beautiful area you visited. N. Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky are absolutely beautiful...of course, S. Illinois is beautiful to us too!

Glad you're home safe and that you had only a bit of damage from the winds...sorry about those sunflowers...

Anonymous said...

Aloha, Sue. I feel so honored that you mentioned me in this week's account. I was surprised to see the picture of you and Gerry in front of my house. It was a pleasure to have a few hours' visit with you. Come anytime.

Anonymous said...

Aloha, Sue. I feel honored that you mentioned your Williamsburg visit. Also, it was neat to see your picture in front of my house. I was a pleasure to see you two and to remember old times in Hawaii. I'm enjoying the pictures you left. Come again anytime.