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More Kentucky Fun

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I like taking trips to give talks. It gets me out of the house and out from under all the things I do every day--off the hamster wheel. I get to meet people, and hang out with folks I'd like to know better.

Barbara Kingsolver's parents, longtime stalwarts of the Kentucky Ornithological Association, came to my talk, and (over my protests), bought a copy of Letters from Eden. I wanted to give them one. They said they'd seen it on Barbara's shelf. I thanked them for making my day, week, year. Having met them, nothing about her natural history literacy surprised me any more. I guess I'm always surprised when a Real Writer shows much n.h.l. It's usually in the natural history basics and details that many Real Writers stumble. I think her biological literacy what makes Barbara Kingsolver's work really shine. It was easy to see where it started. O happy day!

You never know who you'll run into at these things. 

On the field trip the next morning, I found a tiny bluet I'd never seen before--Houstonia pusilla.

Tiny and gracile and much more purple than common bluet, it sprawled along in the moist meadow by the roadside. Here's the whole plant.

A white forget-me not puzzled me a bit. It was growing in a not-very-forget-me-notty place; not wet at all, but it checked out in my mental catalogue as a Myosotis. But then again, maybe it was wild comfrey,
Cynoglossum virginianum, just not feeling like being blue today. I guess in a pinch you could call those leaves light blue. Both are in the Borage family.

Too soon, it was time to beat it for home. I had consulted , the premier road-eats website by my friends Jane and Michael Stern, for possibilities, and learned about Smokey Valley Truck Stop
in Olive Hill, Kentucky. It's near the intersection of I-64 and Route 2 in eastern Kentucky.
No sign graces the restaurant; a wooden sign at the entrance road points you in the right direction, and then you see the cars lined up. My dad taught me to judge a diner by the parking lot.

It being Sunday, there was a large after-church crowd, parents and grandparents and kids and babies. Huge long tables accommodated all. I took a booth, to watch.

There was a big ol' bass and a muskie, I think, mounted against weathered wood and a fish net. Good sign. I hear the catfish special is great, but it wasn't featured that Sunday.

To the right of the big fern, you can see one of the waitresses on her break. She's having a cigarette inside the restaurant, just keeping the place honest to its name, I guess. Definitely not in Cambridge MA any more.

Wanna-be restaurant review coming next! Nobody asked me for a review, but I was pretending to be a roadfood expert. You can do that on your own blog. You can be the Queen of the Road.


Ive tried giving a restaurant review on my own blog, not a lot of comments for that one. But i enjoyed doing it so thats what counts, and i will be doing more in the future. ..............Also please drop by my blog to a brand new post today from old order Mennonite Jean. And look for Jeans first ever recipe (whoopie pies) on Amish Stories this Wednesday. Richard

Thanks for the site. I'll be looking into that.

Back when I was more of a fiction reader, I loved western Kentucky's Bobbie Ann Mason--the short stories in the Shiloh collection, as well as In Country.

Speaking of getting their naturalist details right, does Annie Dillard do all right with that? I was devoted to her Teaching a Stone to Talk collection.

As for William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways . . . Look what you started. Maybe I'll have to get off this machine and read books again--while sitting in a good Mom & Pop somewhere.

Barbara Kingsolver bought your book! Ooo baby! Got the gumption to ask for a book-jacket blurb?

You must feel like I did the day I met Julie Zickefoose.
Still stoked about that one.

Hey, drop by PF, I have your family's next Florida adventure all planned out for you.

... Even the underwater part.

Just love the look on your face as you meet the Kingsolvers. I can imagine.

FYI, I found some wild comfrey on our property that wasn't much feeling like being blue, either. Maybe they behave like wild Chicory flowers, fading as the day drags on? Looks like good comfrey habitat. And meeting Barbara Kingsolver's parents? Wow - I think I would have been speechless!

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