Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bleak? Not in This House!

June 5th looked to continue the miseries of the 4th - a tumultuous thunderstorm kept me from rest for a second consecutive night. I was unsure of what to do with the backpack, which couldn't last much longer. With no cel reception or internet I couldn't contact Mom to let her know to send the new one she has bought me for my upcoming birthday. I'd originally thought the old sack could make it two more weeks until she visits with my brother and her friend Duffy.
I stayed awhile at the church caught up in indecision and waiting for my damp sleeping bag to dry in the sun. Right as I was ready to leave, the pastor, a man named Charlie, arrived. He invited me in so I could get water and use the bathroom. He and his assistant asked me to stay for service. I didn't have any church clothes, but they said that was irrelevant.
The service was different from the more formal liturgy I have experienced growing up as a Lutheran. I found the casual atmosphere appealing and the way the group interacted impressed me. The congregation was very open about the various problems in their lives and there was a palpable sense of community in the room. Their emotion was contagious and I started to tear up a little when they asked me to speak about Ken and the Wounded Warrior Project.
At the conclusion of services I met Dave and Betty Jarvis. Dave had experienced a long sleepless night as I had and almost skipped church that morning. Everyone was glad he came - Charlie had to leave to take care of his ailing wife and Dave was called on to give the sermon at the last moment, a task he performed like a seasoned pro.
No one was happier to meet Dave than I - when he heard about my pack he immediately thought of a great temporary fix, lashing it to an old frame he had lying around his house. He and Betty took me to lunch in Stockport and on a tour of the old mill there, which is now a Bed and Breakfast that seamlessly integrates the mill's dormant machinery as decor. The dam that powered the factory still rages with fast-moving water just outside and one of the only hand-operated locks in existence allows any boat traffic to pass safely by the obstruction.
Stockport was also an important hub on the underground railroad. A local man named Rial Cheadle was the main organizer. He fooled the slave catchers by pretending to have been hit on the head one too many times. The bounty hunters, thinking him a moron, never suspected he was masterminding the escape operations.
At this point I decided to take my first zero day since Parsons and give my feet a much-needed break. Dave and Betty let me do laundry and shower at their farm and I felt like a new man.
I also got to meet their animal menagerie, which included twelve alpacas looking like shaved poodles with over-sized heads following a recent shearing. An all-white peacock was the star of the show, something I had never seen before. With their help I also figured out that the long-necked bird I had seen moving rapidly thru the long grass yesterday was most likely an emu - one of the neighbors raises them on his farm.
I spent a second night under the stars behind the Brethren Church, calmed and comforted by the good people here.

0 miles/564 total miles

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting background on Rial Cheadle bro. Made me think of the Verbal Kent ruse in "Usual Suspects."