Cumberland Gap

Beltane Waxing Dyan Moon May 30th, toward evening

Capitol Limited, traveling through the Cumberland Gap

We passed Cumberland, West Virgina 15 minutes ago. The train stopped near the Union Rescue Mission. Nearby a man with a sleeveless t-shirt, a gut and a gray beard shrugged. Beside him a four year old boy with no shirt mimicked his shrug. Exactly.

The Cumberland Gap is a true piece of Americana, the first straightforward path through the Appalachia’s. Until its discovery the west was difficult to reach for all but the most determined. We went through a long stretch of no phone service, maybe 100 miles in western Maryland.

At supper I met a guy who works for the Bosch company. He says the company has a charitable foundation. No big news there. If it works the way he said it does, though, the reality amazes. He says each year the foundation divides up the profits. The company is wholly owned by the Bosch family. They get 2-3% of the profit. The board which helps them manage gets the same. The rest, 94% or so each year, goes to the foundation for charitable work. Last year the profit was $67,000,000,000. That’s one hell of a lot of money. Or, at least it was before the bank bail-outs.

A weird thing on the way to the metro to the Smithsonian. I saw a guy that looked a lot like my Dad. He a Red Skins hat on and a Hawai’ian style shirt, but he had the Spitler nose and Dad’s distinctive cheek bones and squarish face. He looked enough like him to make me look twice.

I forgot about him. Then,while I ate lunch at the Smithsonian Castle Cafe, he came through the hallway beside the table where I sat. This second encounter caused my imagination to leap into high gear. What if it was Dad? Why now? What would we say to each other?

There was a moment where I pushed myself all the way into that scenario. I allowed myself to imagine actually encountering my Dad father, after all these years. What would our conversation have been like? A frisson of fear shot through me. Dead Dad, after all. I realized the conversation we’d had would have been much like the one’s in life. Interesting, but somehow disengaged, distant.

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I would have asked a question or two about the afterlife.

The train just went around a curve, still here in the Cumberland Gap. I could see our engines and the other cars ahead of us. The sleeping cars come last in the train. I imagine that cuts down on traffic in the hallways.

I’ll sign off now as the sun sinks down below the Appalachian mount just ahead of us.

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