It makes me very happy that Big Boi (of OutKast), one of my favorite rappers, is a huge fan of Kate Bush. I can’t help but smile as I imagine 13-year-old Antwon Patton walking around Atlanta with "Babooshka" playing on repeat on his walkman, utterly lost in his headphones.
My brother Andy went to Germany last summer as part of a research project for the engineering degree he's working on. My brother is a gearhead, talented mechanic, and a fan of stout-style beer; Germany is essentially paradise for him. This three-month trip would be his first experience living abroad, in a place where he didn't know anyone, and where he would be immersed in a language that he didn't speak natively (though he had a few years of German classes under his belt).
In short: there was adventure to be had.
I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, in a town called Waynesboro. It’s one of the largest towns on the Appalachian Trail, but that’s probably not saying much if you’re reading this in Queens. Or, say, Baltimore, where I’m writing this. To much of the urban world, Waynesboro looks like a dozen buildings lost in endless cowfields.
But that’s why I always look forward to driving home. Part of me loves the energy and complexity of cities but the rest of me prefers open space and quiet. If I stay away from the mountains too long, I start to feel lost.
I was hiking in the mountains, back home, on a cold, overcast day and I came across a very old tree. Dead on its feet, its bark was starting to split and rot away. Shelf fungus had begun to grow and climb its trunk, forming bulbous, rhythmic stairsteps that reached toward the branches.
When I see a tree like this, I can't seem to walk past it. I don't know why, exactly, but there's something about fungus that strikes me as both alien and familiar, something both playful and a little unsettling.
My wife’s family often goes on vacation in Ocean City, MD, a place where you can find excellent milk shakes, vinegar fries, shuffle bowl arcade games, and old-school, non-digital photo booths. Oh, and the Atlantic Ocean is there too, but everybody is usually more excited about the milkshakes.
My favorite part, though, is visiting Asateague Island. A small offshore island near the Virginia-Maryland border, it’s about a half-hour drive away. The entire island is a national park with rare herds of wild ponies and spectacular sand dunes and marshes. If you can bear the mosquitoes it’s a great place to hike.