I-40 unzips Oklahoma like your grandpa's old sweater, with the leather on the elbows and the one cigarette burn at the bottom that he always sort of folded under when he sat down. Oklahoma rolls out from under it, broad flesh and bone. When we get into Arkansas we take the backroads - or the state highways, at least. Stone houses with horsey lots that stretch back to the creek, signs that say catfish, good clouds. In North Carolina the clouds rise out of the mountain valleys and the sign reading Smokys makes me smile. We stop to investigate a tree, all full of fruit and buds in this winter month. Here it is so warm - nearly 60 - that we consider a dip in the river down the road. In Oklahoma two nights back we set the tent beneath a midnight full moon, 30 degrees and falling. Clear cold, and frost to crunch when I ran to the bathroom in the morning.
In Tennessee we bought a banjo, and he is playing it now in our Asheville hotel room and I hope that the rooms beside us are empty. Tomorrow we're headed for Bennington, Vermont, to spend the night in a hunting camp with a friend, then to Burlington thereafter, where I fervently hope Providence sees fit to send me a job.