Sunday, July 3, 2011

Crisscrossing America, from Tree to Shining Tree

Traveling exhausts me.

This past week I’ve been to New York, Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Vermont, Pennsylvania, California, Tennessee, and Massachusetts. Sometimes twice. Never in any practical order.

I’m visiting the homes and trees of literary and cultural icons with author Richard Horan. This morning we swam in Walden’s Pond and took Frost’s Road Less Traveled. Yesterday we communed with Flannery O’Connor, Willa Cather, and Pearl Buck. Before that it was John Muir, L. Frank Baum, Henry Miller, and Edith Wharton.

It’s a mad-dash tour that’s only halfway completed, yet we have to wrap it up by this coming Saturday—the day our “vehicle” must be returned to the library.

“The secret God-grin is in the trees.”
—Jack Kerouac

For nearly any place you want to go, there’s a book that will take you there. However, when said tome belongs to a library, your timetable isn’t your own. That’s my frustration with reading Horan’s Seeds: One Man’s Serendipitous Journey to Find the Trees that Inspired Famous American Writers. If the book belonged to me, I’d take more time to savor it. Ideally, I’d read a work by each writer mentioned and use the Web to explore the towns, trees, terrain, and architecture that colored the thoughts of those writers. The trip could continue for months.

But this trip has to be over this Saturday. So if you don’t hear from me, I’m likely in Tuscumbia, Yazoo City, Appomattox, Saratoga Springs, or Monticello—or somewhere in between.

Happy trails …

[Trees pictured are the now uncommon American Chestnut: top photo from the USDA Forest Service and bottom photo from The American Chestnut Foundation.]

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