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Mack Williams: Paved past

Mack Williams

The other day, I started down to Yanceyville for a regular checkup at the Caswell Family Medical Center.
Some people, after moving even just a dozen or so miles away like I did, would have switched their records to a doctor practically just down the street,but not me. I’m on a first name basis with “front window” workers, Gloria, Sonya, and Kim; however, not with my doctor. One never is, unless you went to high school with a future doctor, as I did with Dr. Steven K. McCombs of Faith.
On the way down from Danville, I ran into a repaving road crew on highway 86 South. Well, I didn’t really run into them, I could see them in the distance and smell them (not the men, the asphalt they were spreading). There’s some “paving” and “repaving” going on in Kilauea Island as a result of the Kilauea Volcano (but that kind doesn’t necessarily follow the route of the roads).
When the Ancient Romans “paved” roads (The Appian Way), they stayed paved longer, with paving stones overlying five feet of rock, sand and cement.
I thought back to trips I had made over that current pavement of the road, and prior pavings before. One that especially popped into my mind was a time back in late 70s, when my late wife Diane and I took my late mother to Long River Chinese Restaurant in Danville. This was the first time, my mother (Frances Lorraine Hamlet Williams had been to a Chinese restaurant (and my first time too). I think there was MSG being used there back then, and my slight resulting dizziness added to the air of the “Mysteries of the Orient.”
Just now, I remember eating lunch some years ago with the late Esther Rufty Hodgin at Salisbury’s “China Buffet.” It was long past the time of Chinese restaurants’ use of MSG, so I experienced no dizziness( but I do remember an aura of Esther). Someday, I will be as “late” as all of the “lates” which I have mentioned here, all of us becoming concurrent in our “lateness.”
On the road again: I noticed where many fresh tire tracks had been made on the old unpaved asphalt, having been tracked there by a previously passing car which had passed over the freshly “tarred” section (tarred tires and Tar Heels). I thought of there being some layer deep down over which I had driven to take my daughter Rachel back and forth to dance classes in Danville from 1981-95. In addition to this, somewhere down there were repeated, round trip “personal paths” to Danville’s First Presbyterian Church every Wednesday for choir, and every Sunday for Service, along with numerous shopping and “movie” trips (no theater or mall in Yanceyville).
Along that route were other occurrences, such as numerous haltings to help eastern box turtles across the road, or swerving to avoid hitting snakes (yes, I brake for snakes). Sometime it’s hard to tell a “mirage snake” from a real snake. Those wet-looking black mirages way up ahead on the traveled summer highway seem to shimmer and slither just like a snake. Some of the asphalt, freshly laid by the roadwork crew had the shine and color of a blacksnake, though infinitely wider and longer.
Just off the road, instead of “repairing,” there was the cutting down of a great old tree, the sawed sections of its massive trunk resembling the fallen sections of a Doric column of Egypt’s El Karnak Temple.
In a sort of way, some of my memories are entombed in the numerous re-pavings of that road, but not as “gravely” like the skeletons of workers entombed in China’s Great Wall.
Those physical routes of my memories are multiply paved-over; and their connected memories are “en-paved” within me like the growth rings of a tree. Some of the “rings” are good, or bad; and some are fat, or lean, like the cattle in Joseph’s dream.
“One season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”

 

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