Redbuds and Coonhounds
March 29, 2012 § 2 Comments
When the green dust covers the cars, there’s no denying it. My eyes, ears, and nose can’t ignore the change. I see the first redbuds on my street. The one I bought years ago for Jeff must have grown tall in our old yard by now, and I think of the mountains. I think of the old Louvin brothers song: Kentucky, you are the dearest land outside of Heaven to me. Kentucky, your laurels and your red bud trees. This is the time when the hills are still a mix of brown and pale green, only dots of pink and white can be seen in the woods and on the edge of the crumbling highways; the mountains are only just trying to come back. This is the place I feel spring fighting hardest.
Spring is not for cities, at least not for me. They have the steamy summer, heat rising off the pavement. Winter belongs to the concrete. Spring is half dead, half alive. It comes on slow, then bursts into a blanket of kudzu over the rock. It happens in the mountains, where my family began and ended.
Jeff and I fell in love with coonhounds in Kentucky when one wandered onto a trail near a friend’s house and went home with us as if she had always known us. That was Ruby. Now, in Durham, we have a crazy hound dog, named Annie. After eight years, she has finally learned to come home when she gets loose. She wedges her head through our iron gate, then slinks her body through somehow, like a snake, whenever she can’t fight her desire. For years, she would bark and run all around the neighborhood. She still does sometimes. The neighbors know her. Some will never forgive us. I always forgive her.
I used to live on Kingdom Come Creek, a place that really exists. It is the realest place. Here, dogs run until they stop, and people stay close to creeks and rivers, close enough to touch the hillsides sometimes. I had a huge garden there, where my cat brought her kittens into the young bean plants to hunt a baby rabbit. I learned to make movies there too, where words and pictures might change the world.
My twenties are in Kentucky, along with a lot of people who don’t even age when I see them. My friend Katie still lives there. She used to do advertisements for the radio station I worked at, WMMT. She says Chevrolet in a way that sounds like Kentucky to me. I hear it when spring comes, when the Louvin brothers fade back in after the ad: Kentucky, I will be coming soon