A quote from Uncle Walt, this one from Song 48 of Song of Myself:
“Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that where-soe-er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.”
On September 24, he came walking up to the library, like a modern Whitman, or Kerouac, or Jesus, on his way from San Francisco to Boston, not yet favoring his bloody Achillies tendons (not figuratively or Britishly bloody, but literally bloody from his new high-topped trail boots). Like so many profits through the ages before him, he was carrying a message with him, many messages really. But they were not messages from his own voice, they were messages from the people he had met along his way. You see, B. J. Hill was walking across America to “bring the voice of the people to our next president,” and he was coming to collect messages (big and small, those whispered and those shouted) from people in Gadsden. And in his well-traveled book, he collected our messages.
Now, unless you’ve found yourself in the position of having no choice but to sleep outside (and some of you out there are saying, “But Carol, he made the choice to walk across America, so he knew he’d have to sleep outside…” yes, I understand that, but nonetheless, play along with me for a minute), you don’t know how happy the offering of a room for the evening can make a person (the thought of a hot shower, a place to wash your clothing, an actual bed to sleep in is almost too good to be true). When Gadsden Times reporter Andy Powell mentioned to library director Amanda Jackson and Councilman Ben Reed, “Wouldn’t it be nice if B.J. could stay at a cabin at the Falls…,” it was done. Had it been me instead of B.J., I would’ve thought myself Coleridge’s Kubla Khan and spent the evening comparing the cabin at Noccalula Falls to Xanadu, and Black Creek to Alph, that sacred river that “ran through caverns measureless to man,” as I am a firm believer in entertaining hyperbole (Mr. Hill may have been doing just that later that evening, we’ll never know for sure unless he fesses up one day).
The cabin must have been a success, for the next morning B.J. arrived refreshed back at the library to resume his trek at the point he left off the day before (no cheating allowed when you’re the Walk America 2008 Guy, you see). Last I saw of him, he, several messages heavier, was heading out our back door, having just eaten a piece of sweet potato pie (courtesy of the Ebony Enchantress), and walking in the direction of the Pitman Theatre on Broad Street.
BJ, we want to thank you for making Gadsden a stop on your route across America, and good luck on the remainder of your journey. We will be thinking of you as you eventually head back north, and as the weather begins to change. We hope that all those miles and all those words do not weigh heavy upon you. We wish you many comfortable sofas upon which to surf, and lots of communion along the way with interesting and kind people.
You may follow B.J. Hill’s journey yourself through his website at Walk America 2008.
I want to mention the passing of a friend, Jennifer Pritchett. Jennifer was a mate to my sis back in high school, a popular girl who would be friends with you whether you were popular or not. Jennifer was what a lot of people should be, someone who was optimistic, funny, caring, and kind. She and my sis supported each other through their battles with cancer. We will miss Jennifer.
About to read: one of the many books borrowed from E (and hoping that he forgives the marginalia I leave behind like rabbit poop…d’oh! At least it’s in pencil)
Listening to: Frank Sinatra, the Reprise Collection.
Cooking: Salmon with roasted red pepper cream sauce from my new tapas cookbook (I hope I don’t eff it up).