With summer’s end comes the sweet smell of fall
August 28, 2007
It is most certainly transition time in Woody Creek. The Woody Creek Tavern is in transition from more than 20-some years of management and then ownership by one couple to a new couple. A few old and familiar faces have disappeared from the scene, but that was to be expected. For someone such as myself, who has been involved with the Tavern one way or another since the day it opened in 1980, it is sad to know that old friends will no longer be a part of the scene. By the same token, it is rather nice to know that the new faces may, in time, become new friends. A transition is, after all, a passage and not all passages are completed with ease. Next door to the Tavern, the Woody Creek Store/Community Center is undergoing a major transition – something akin to a rebirth. The Center is being rebuilt from the bottom up and the top down to satisfy the county’s codes. Ann Owsley, who manages the center, hopes to be open once again in October. Anyone who wants to volunteer some time or money is more than welcome. This is a true community project, and it will take the community’s participation to make it work.And anyone who has been near Woody Creek this summer knows that the Woody Creek Trailer Park also is experiencing a major transition. It has been something of a war zone for park residents, but all of the disruptions and heavy-equipment work will eventually mean a nicer place to live. But there is another important transition going on, one that pretty much impacts the Northern Hemisphere. If you have had your iPod turned up too high, you may not have noticed that autumn is in the air. This is a sweet and gentle transition. Fall officially arrives Sept. 23 with the autumnal equinox, but it has already shown that it is on the way. You can feel it, sense it, smell it and see it, at least that is the case in Lenado, where I live. Suddenly the light seems softer, the air crisper, and the colors that surround you are somehow muted. It is such a passive transition – and a welcome one.I will miss summer, of course, but long ago I learned to embrace our mountain autumns. With fall seems to come an internal deceleration, a willingness to slow down and enjoy. The thinning of the tourists may have something to do with the change of pace we experience in the fall. In their desire to see and do as much as possible during their vacations (which is understandable considering what they pay to visit here), a level of frenzy is often achieved, one that can rub off on the rest of us. Of course there are things about summer that will be missed in Woody Creek. I suppose most of us who live down here will truly miss those hordes of visitors careening down River Road on their rent-a-bikes, riding two, or three or even four abreast, completely oblivious of the vehicular traffic attempting to negotiate a way by them. And quite often, the cyclists will refuse to move over, which forces drivers to pass in spots where they shouldn’t be passing, thus putting the bike riders, the driver of the car or truck and any oncoming vehicle in danger. Maybe I’m being too naive, but it seems to me that if you really want to enjoy a vacation, it would be a good idea to bring your brain along with you. Of course, it is impossible to know how many of those bike riders may just be suicidal. Speaking of suicidal, try driving Woody Creek Road on a regular basis. It has far fewer cyclists than River Road, but it seems to attract riders with a very disturbing trait. Many of them have the habit of stopping to chat, or whatever, while they remain in the middle of the road. That could be tolerated if it were not for the fact that they insist on gathering in the middle of blind curves, which gives a driver only a second or two to react. And amazingly enough, those cyclists will often glare at you, apparently upset that you had the nerve to interrupt their little gathering. They remind me of chipmunks, those little critters that wait until the last second before dashing in front of your car. Talk about being suicidal!In all fairness, it should be pointed out that I have been talking about a minority of cyclists. The fact that cars, trucks and bikers share a narrow mountain road without serious incident is a credit to everyone involved.My favorite memory from this summer did involve a cyclist, however. I was sitting at the bar in the Woody Creek Tavern on one of those extremely hot days we had in August. The lunch crowd had arrived, so the place was fairly busy. A rather large fellow in his Lycra biking outfit came up behind me and ordered a beer. Believe me, he had worked up a sweat and I’m certain he really needed that beer. Unfortunately he had to reach over my shoulder to retrieve his beer and in doing so he was forced to place his armpit a bit too close to my nose.I swear that the odor that attacked me would have fried the tiles on the space shuttle. “Nauseous” doesn’t begin to describe my reaction. I’m surprised I didn’t vomit right then and there. But what the hell, the guy was on vacation, and he probably would not have appreciated me throwing up on him. I will miss summer, but I don’t quite know why?This is the 344th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where we enjoy autumn because it smells better than summer.