Oh Bring Us Some Foggy Pudding

At 11:25 last night, the phone rang. It was Ann, half-way home. She had made it part way down George’s Run, and had to turn back. It was so foggy she could go no farther without the white lines along the edges of the road to guide her–something that little country road lacks, though it is paved for all its very dark, winding four miles, a short-cut that drops about five minutes from the trip.

And so I put on my bathrobe and fired up the laptop to have something to do to stay awake for the 30 minutes it would take her to get home down Christiansburg Mountain, along Allegheny Spring road–complete, all the way to our country lane with white lines to show the way.

But what would I do if she didn’t show up in a reasonable amount of time? And just how long should I wait? She would be out of cell phone reception; nobody else would be on the road that time of night, should she end up in a ditch or wrapped around a tree–or a deer. And would it make sense for BOTH OF US to be pulled off the side of the same road in different places penned down by the fog?

At midnight, I put on my clothes, not really knowing what I intended to do, but preferring to be ready to leave the house, should she call from one of the dark and far-between farm houses along the way.

At ten after 12, reluctantly and not knowing how to proceed, I picked up the phone. When I punched the ON button, the dog bolted up the way he does when he hears a car coming. Maybe it was just the phone noise that startled him. I dialed the “9” of 911, preparing to tell the hiway patrol to be aware of her route and situation.

Then I heard what the dog had heard, then saw the sweep of headlights through the pines, and Ann drove up non-plussed at about 12:15. Merry Christmas, welcome home, and such is life in the boondocks.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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