Hillside Farm, Pulaski, VA
Oil on canvas, 10x10
Here are some thoughts I had on the trip, and some things I noticed that never made their way into my emails:
IF YOU WANT A JOB, the South wants you.
Starting in Georgia, I began to see huge highway billboards announcing jobs available. I saw these through Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana.
In general, I didn't recognize the companies, but they seemed to range from manufacturing to oil to high-tech, just judging from the names. Of course, the pay levels were not listed on the billboards. But there are jobs for people in cities in those states.
FROM NOVEMBER until just about 10 days ago, an arsonist here on the Eastern Shore burned more than 70 abandoned buildings. Night after night, the fire alarm would sound, and the little volunteer fire companies would go out and find an old, abandoned building ablaze.
Police came here in droves, and tried everything they could think of to find the culprit, but the fires continued, night after night after night.
Finally, a cop pretty much stumbled on them - a man and his girlfriend - and made the arrests. The couple confessed to setting most of the fires. The remainder were set, I am sure, by opportunistic homeowners.
Maybe this is something that only someone who lives on the Eastern Shore would understand, but as I drove along through the South and toward the West, and saw abandoned building after abandoned building, I found myself thinking: "Gee, I bet the arsonist would like THAT building..."
It was only then that I realized that I'd been thinking those very same thoughts for months about abandoned buildings here.
AS I DROVE THROUGH LOUISIANA, and the outskirts of New Orleans, I saw a sign for the French Quarter, Le Vieux Carre. I've seen photos and movies of the French Quarter all my life, it seems. Heard people's stories, read travel articles and restaurant reviews, read novels set in and around New Orleans.
My decision not to go into the city brought with it a certain feeling of finality. If I didn't go to New Orleans this trip, it seems unlikely that I will ever go to New Orleans.
I remember leaving Key West during an unhappy art-fair trip to Florida in November and realizing that I would never go back there. I'd seen Key West, I'd stood on the edge of America, seen Mile Zero, seen the descendants of Hemingway's cats - and I would not be back.
I'm 56. Not old, but not young, either. There are millions of places to see, and I am not done seeing them.
Sometimes I think of life as a long, long hallway with many, many doors opening onto many, many choices and many, many experiences. I can't quite see the end of the hallway, but I am starting to know that it is there.
While there are hundreds of doors ahead of me, some of the ones behind me have swung shut and are locked tight.
Scenes from the Road
This scene from Fort Monroe, AL, is going to make it into a painting soon.
This Texas farm was abandoned, I think. I like the way the buildings sit on the land, and in the big Texas sunshine.
These saguaro cacti were growing pretty high up, on the road to Sedona.
THE DOG OF THE DAY is Gypsy, who lives with Heather MacLeod and her husband Joe Keller in snowy Brownfield, Maine! Your dog can be the Dog of the Day, too! Send me a photo at carrieBjacobson@gmail.com