Into the West, with a promise of good beer

As we drove into the west, winding the small roads of our youth, the clouds were fat with drama but promised no rain. I had shopped in the shopping center on the left, years and lives ago. It was empty now, stretched long and solid and off the road. No stores, no cars, a ghost of Christmas past. I looked for the house under the trestle which was the home place for the Smatherses, my grandmother’s mother’s people. There were houses there, to be sure, but I needed a reference point more manageable than the old photos resting in my brain.

My friend from high school was driving me to her old stomping ground to do a booksigning at a cool indie bookshop called City Lights. We would be arriving early enough to stop by her (now our) friends’ brewery to sample the Roktoberfest.

As is my wont, I looked for crows flying their omens and for cats in the hedgerows. I had seen a dead armadillo in Georgia a few days before and wondered what wonders of roadkill might be glimpsed as we went.

Somewhere in Haywood county, I think it was, a bird grazed a circle above us and to the right. It was too big for a redtail and didn’t fly the right way for a turkey vulture. It was big and dark against the mountains as it looped above.

What is that? We marveled like children spotting the first dragon of the season. What is that?

Today, sitting in front of a search engine, I looked at the possibility of eagles. Are they here, in the southern highlands? They are–bald and golden. I peered at images of eagles from below and calculated wingspan.

A golden, I think now. A golden eagle marking our pathway into the west.

We had a grand time. There was good beer, good talk, ideas shared, old friends seen anew and new friends made.

And we sold a few books.

A good omen, that eagle.

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