The ancient Chinese told how dragons might be responsible for storms. The Aztecs had Quetzalcoatl. But the old timers in the eastern part of West Virginia told stories about the Snallygastor. A dragon in the New World. Even though the feature image shows a dragon-like impression in the texture of the clouds I’m not quite ready to lay responsibility of a storm on the existence of a “fearsome critter”. But it does seem to fuel the imagination. I can imagine a grandfather type character looking out from the shelter with children on his knee telling them all about the dragons as the storms pass. The story always has a happy ending and the children become so enthralled by the tale that they forget about the fear of thunder and lightning outside.
A morning stop at the junction of the Gauley River, New River and the Kanawha River was rewarded with a display of the mists rising up from the surrounding mountains. Fog and mists are inspiration for the imagination. While looking at the scene before my eyes it was easy to conjure up what it must have been like during the settlement era. There were no houses or roads. Just the river and the tree covered mountains with the occasional rocky ledge. If I close my eyes and focus on the image I can hear a Shawnee playing his flute as he sits on the bank. He’s working on a love song for his true love, drawing inspiration from the song birds. The tune has to be perfect because it’s the only dowry he has. I can also smell the fire from his camp as his breakfast cooks. He’s having fish from the weir he made yesterday. He’s wrapped the fish in wild aromatic herbs and the scent is amazing. The leaves of Carolina Allspice impart a lemon flavor to meal.
The young warrior pauses to make a mental note of the tune and turns towards his meal. He pretends not to notice that she has been watching him the whole time. He smiles as he watches her reflection in the calm pool along the river’s edge. Playfully he calls out, “If only there was someone who would share this meal with me!” With slight giggle his true love emerges from edge of the bushes. They embrace and I am called back to the real world. I pulled my truck back onto the highway and began my morning commute. However, as I did could have sworn that I saw the two lovers reflected in the river.
Tonight I have a thought that I just can’t seem to suppress. A few days ago a meme came up on my Facebook feed. The meme asked what super power you would choose and one of the choices was time travel. I began to think about all the science fiction stories on t.v. and in books as well as movies and how they depicted time travel. Normally they accelerate the subject and the surrounding environment freezes. (Except for Dr. Who, he just vanishes with a psychedelic whirring noise. ) I have a slightly different concept. I think that time travel would require one to leave time-space completely and reenter at the destination point. It’s a concept that I came up with while working on a science fiction story. The complicated part would be that time isn’t really a specific quantity and destiny isn’t fixed. Our destiny is a result of our choices and our choices are influenced by our past experiences. Therefore, a time traveler who exited time-space would have to choose between infinite possible futures and perceive infinite past choices that were never made. The quote that applies is “Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions.” (Which is attributed to so many people that I’m not sure who actually said it. ) The obvious temptation for our time traveler would be to go back and correct the mistakes of the past. But in doing so he would prevent the experience of future and therefore gain no wisdom. Of course being outside time-space he would have all of eternity to explore the possibilities without any effect on the present. Perhaps the lesson he would learn would be to leave well enough alone and let things happen naturally. He would learn how important his past mistakes were and why he must learn from them.
In the 1970s my brother and I would watch science fiction reruns on VHF T.V. and the adventures of Saturday Afternoons included reliving those we observed in monochrome. Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and a slough of guys in rubber suits. Space travel was still new and every time an astronaut was shot into space the world held it’s breath. For two brothers growing up in rural Appalachia virtual reality required a large empty box, some crayons and bits of whatever they could find. Was the moon really made of green cheese? There’s only one way to find out.
The two boys worked diligently. Because they were brothers they didn’t need to speak much. Each knew instinctively what the other needed. A piece of tape here and crayon there. Flashlights rested in cardboard holsters on their hips. If the enemies attack before they were done they would need their laser swords close at a hand. The last meteor shower had done a lot of damage to the ship. Repairs took a lot of time but doing it right was worth the effort. Being the better mathematician, the younger brother picked up a stick and double checked his calculations in the dirt. “I think we’re ready.” He said as the boys stepped back and admired their handiwork. The refrigerator box had everything a good spaceship needs. Empty two liter bottles for rocket boosters. Empty toilet paper tubes for death rays. And flexible hoses they found in the shed for miscellaneous systems. They were really ready for a moon landing. Fortunately, they were able to record some space sounds by placing a cassette tape recorder next to T.V. This would allow for more realistic experience. The young astronauts entered into the cardboard ship and took their places at the control panel. The older brother pushed play on the recorder. Three…Two…One.. We have liftoff!
The adventure never ends as long as you believe.
I walked down the silent road with only a plume of dust to mark my passage. The gray world around me seemed so empty and lost. Nothing seemed to move now. No insects in the grass and only the giant raven in the sky. He circled around as he lead me back to the beginning of the road. When I came to the head of the road I looked around. The birds sat still in the trees. If it had not been for the occasional flash of feathers as they shifted position I would have been convinced that a flock of stuffed birds had been placed on the edge of the dark forest surrounding this strange highway in the dreamworld. The raven lighted in a majestic but ancient and gnarled tree. His red eyes flashed at me and he nodded to a dimly lit path in the wood. I understood that he could guide me no farther in this quest. Will a bit of angst I stepped inside the woods and looking towards the place where the light fell away I saw her. Dressed all in white and crying as she sat on a fallen log. At her feet lay a broken dulcimer. And then I knew the answer. She was the voice of this world. And without the dulcimer that voice was gone. The birds could not wake the morning sun and the clouds ruled the day. Silence is not always golden. As she wept quietly I approached her with cautious anticipation. When she noticed me standing on the edge of the path she wasn’t startled. She looked up at me in desperation and gestured to the shattered remains of her joy lying in pieces. I opened my mouth to speak words of comfort but no sound came from my throat. She took me by the hand and pulled me to a large stone in forest. We cleared away centuries of moss and there carved into the granite more strange symbols. I studied them for a moment and realized that I knew the meaning.
To be continued