Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Letters from Kalien)

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I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Where’s your shame?
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time
—David Bowie

I knew things were ch-ch-ch-changin’ a few days back. We were racing toward Kalien from town in our peppy (preppy?) little Fiat, we call her Bella, all decked out in stylish Verde Chiaro, when an epiphany occurred.

As you wind through the valley in between the mountains, just before you turn onto the very na-na-na-na-narrow winding road that ends at our farm, the already na-na-narrow winding road on which you are driving continues. Where it leads was a mystery. We had always been in such a hurry to get to our place we never even considered the possibility of another.

Just past the feeding trough, and black cows that make Remy growl, after the muddy churned up pasture that I suspect (and hope) smells of peat, you can make out a dilapidating and abandoned farmhouse. It rests at the end of the valley before the mountains reach up to swallow the road.

On a sudden whim—I went straight (straight being a relative term in the Appalachian mountains)—and took the road we had yet to travel. Gina was about to say “where are you going?,” but she just gave me a resigned and knowing look that has come from living with my propensity for improvisation.

As the road grew even more narrow and winding, we were forced to slow down. It felt as though we had been teleported to a movie set. On the right were hilly tree-filled meadows and mossy woods and on the left was a rugged creek filled with an outer rigid layer of ledges and rocks that looked like unearthed tectonic plates. They created perfect waterfalls.

It was as if Bella had been transformed into one of those Disney rides, the ones where you get into a car and it moves you through an imaginary place. We were on an idyllic country road, the limbs of ancient trees providing a welcoming canopy, leading to who knows where.

I said, “oh, my gosh, Gina, we can ride our horses down this road. Can you imagine what it will look like in spring and autumn? and summer? and look how it looks now?” She laughed, took my hand, and we slowed down even more and soaked in the experience. Let’s just say the drive got better and better.

After a while, coming to the end of the road, we reluctantly turned around and headed back to the place we are slowly starting to call home. Time had passed quickly and we were running behind.

As we rounded the final curve just before our road, a big green and well-used John Deere tractor with a huge front loader blocked our way. The fence (and the cows which were now only a few inches from our window) made passage impossible—and Remy began a low rumbling growl that promised to crescendo—her snarl was only heightened as she spied two dogs in the bushes to our left, one a blue merle Australian shepherd.

Seeing two people fumbling with a chain at an old rusty gate by the road, I reached to blow my horn, but something stopped me.

And that’s when I knew ch-ch-ch-ch-changes were takin’ place inside of me. So I turned and faced the strange. I decided to try patience and bide my time.

I lowered the window. The overpowering chug-chug-chug of the diesel tractor was so loud you could barely hear yourself think—that combined with the now vociferous dogs as they spied Remy in our car spying them and the cows made for a calamitous moment.

Or I suppose I should say, an epiphanous one.

Next: The Epiphany

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