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July 4, 2020

Mack Williams: COVID cabin fever outing

By Mack Williams
For the Salisbury Post
I recently went for another cardio walk in a local park, later exercising my car (and mind) with a drive in the country. During the pedestrian part of my COVID cabin fever outing, I walked past a catalpa tree in bloom. It should be “catawba” instead of “catalpa,” but due to a French naturalist’s mistake in transcribing it into the scientific record, it must be forever known as catalpa.
Some of the catalpa blooms were past their prime and fallen to the road, looking like popped popcorn fallen from an overfilled bag at a carnival. Just past the catalpa tree, and also along that paved walking trail, a mulberry tree had been dropping its fruit for a while, evinced by dark blue/purple circular stains on the asphalt, where the berries had been mashed by walkers and cars.
Seeing those wine-like stains after having just encountered popcorn-like blooms, I also thought of drinking wine and eating popcorn in the dorm during my college days at Appalachian (of course, after it was legal to have alcohol in the dorms).
Later in my walk, I got the whiff of something resembling a gardenia on steroids, then saw it came from one remaining bloom in the uppermost part of a magnolia tree. The scent from that single bloom, even so far above, seemed to fill the park. I wondered if this were due to the wind’s direction, or simply a wish on my part.
Having been back home for several hours, my COVID wanderlust returned; and I continued via wheels into the countryside.
I was surprised at how much the kudzu had already advanced in its landscape modification. The human mind wants to see a face present in circular or oval-shaped objects. And in these masses of kudzu which overlaid skeletal tree trunks and limbs, I imagined human-form, verdant giants — reminiscent of the tree-form giants I saw in “The Day of the Triffids”(1962) at Salisbury’s Capitol Theater.
I then passed an old, vine-covered, solitary, abandoned house. It appeared to have self-quarantined itself from humanity for many decades now.
Further down that two-lane, easy-going country road, I saw a distant, almost ancient-looking, two-story barn. The Ansel Adams photo clarity of its gray wood stood out in direct contrast to the misty, Monet-green of its floral field surrounding.
Having begun my drive during late afternoon, the sun had set when I returned home. A thunderstorm was already in progress; and my last impression of that day was of each lightning flash, repeatedly trying its best to pull the string, as if to switch-on that much needed, life-renewing sun bulb again.

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