I went to visit Susie and Todd last weekend over in Laurel. The catalyst for the visit was small engine repair as Todd has a gift with saws, tillers, mowers, weedeaters and such.
But visits with Todd and Susie are always about much more than spark plugs and carburetors and this was no different. We talked at length about their recent trip to India and Europe, about Istanbul, and a drive through the French Alps for a short stay in Italy.
We talked a lot about Susie’s father, Bill Mosher, a long-time professor at Warren Wilson College, who was born in India to parents that were agricultural missionaries there. Bill took scores of students to India for cultural studies and continues to go back for extended stays every two years or so, even now at 81 years old. Susie, and often Todd, accompany him.
In my mind Bill should be a role model for all of us elders, everyone really. He’s open-minded, and adventuresome, fearless really, always ready to try new foods, meet new people, and absorb new places. He’s a wonderful photographer, also, and has an engaging manner with people that produces intimate portraits. Susie told me of a recent solo trip Bill made, where he drove around the south for a few weeks, sleeping in his car, often in Walmart parking lots, visiting small and large towns, going to art galleries, delighting in his near total anonymity, and not knowing where he would end up from one day to the next. He’s inspirational and it’s easy to understand why his students loved him.
I was thinking about Bill as I left Todd and Susie’s house for the winding ride home. Down the mountain and across the Dickie bridge and then up the hill to Peachtree where I turned onto Lonesome Mountain road. While visiting, we all noticed a change in the light and the air - softer with darkening skies and the air sweeter with the distinct smell of approaching rain.
Dellie would always refer to Lonesome Mountain as Ol’ Lonesome, granting it an ominous or haunting description that was close to the truth. Especially at night, the dark, narrow road with steep turns and switchbacks, with overhanging trees and few houses and could be scary, as it was on this evening.
The rain came in sheets as I approached the top, the sky black, gusts of wind strong enough to move my truck, the road slick, no guardrails, and steep dropoffs. Ol’ Lonesome at her finest. I slowed, not only for safety and better traction, but to make photographs through the windshield, trying to capture something of this storm’s fury.
At the bottom, where Lonesome Mountain meets Hwy. 25-70, the sky lightened and opened, the road widened, signaling an end to my passage over Ol’ Lonesome. As always, I stopped at the painted rock to read its current message.