Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Saturday, 19 August 2006

The 3rd Best Southern Small City in Which to Live

Roanoke, Virginia – 19 August, 2006

We are staying with retired friends on Smith Mountain Lake in western Virginia. The pace of life here is very slow. We spend days watching the bird feeders, playing tennis doubles, swimming in isolated coves and drinking wine in the evening.

The sensation of floating on your back with submerged ears and looking at blue sky and tree lines upside down is strange and disorienting. It’s like laying on your back with earphones and watching a lover's face move while they talk. It's hard to get used to the mouth being where the forehead belongs or the weightless, soundless feeling that makes you think you might fall upward forever into the blue sky. The lakes grow colder as we move north.

One of the birds here (a house wren) has severe flight control issues. It lurches toward the feeder, overshoots, backpedals, folds it wings and makes a crash landing on the feeder lip. It scared me badly by flying into the back of my leg while I was on my cell phone and by flying into my knee while I was reading. I watch its progress daily but there is no improvement.

We played three sets of doubles yesterday. I take turns with different partners. In the last set I partner with Mrs. Phred and actually win. It feels good. My first tennis victory. She wins with all three of her partners.

The fireflies put on a light show at dusk on the lake-shore. A rapid blink rate is a prized male characteristic for the females waiting in the grass below. They like flashy males.

Here are some pictures of the birds and the lake.

We went into Roanoke, 45 minutes away, today, and we happened upon an Indian festival (the kind from Asia. The market was full of vegetables, fruits, jugglers, Indians in bright dress and bearded blue grass musicians. The town has a laser light show twice a day with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin music and a poetry Open Mike on Sundays. They were holding the monthly silent peace vigil in the town square today…a lovely small town. Open coal cars fill the rail yards…the Blue Ridge Parkway has an entrance on the edge of town.

We watched “RV” last night. It may be a good thing Robin Williams is going into rehab. He only made me laugh once with the line “Whenever I hear banjo music, it makes my cheeks pucker”. I give Ann and Andy my hard-copy of “Deliverance” by James Dickey from our RV library.

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