Saturday, June 20, 2009

I travelled among unknown men

I have departed Tennessee - precisely five years, and three months to the day after I arrived. Moving has been an even bigger headache than I'd anticipated, possibly resulting in me having watched most of my worldly possessions being driven into the sunset, never to be seen again. Ah, well. Who really cares?
Driving the 1300 odd miles West to Colorado has provided opportunity to contemplate the move. The drive was enjoyable - a good run to bring Gladys back out West where she belongs. Today was the highlight - climbing low rolling hill after hill, the Rockies getting seeming clearer and crisper in discrete steps. The air felt wonderful, reminding me of summer coastal breezes back home. I didn't run the AC for the first time in days.

People have asked me (numerous times) what, if anything, I will miss about Tennessee. To the astonishment of many, the beer will be high on the list. Contrary to all my expectations, US beer is excellent (if you avoid the big breweries, of course - it wouldn't be fair to write off a Shepherd Neame by sampling a Boddington's now, would it?). For what is lacking from US brewing in the subtlety of marrying malts and hops is made up by the sheer enthusiasm and inventiveness of the brewing - and the US love of hops is to their international credit. Consequently, my home brewing efforts will be focused on reproducing Dead Guys, Anchor Steams, Highlands, Left Hands, Dogfish, New Belgians, Duck Rabbits etc. I'll also miss the quality of driving - the way that, if you're driving a small car, only your own life is at risk, for the only things you can hit are pickup trucks and trees.

The bizarre thing is, save the goodbyes to a number of good friends whom shall be sorely missed, the saddest thing for me was parting with Charlie. She was my walking staff. I roughly fashioned her when leaving the base camp of the Manway, and many peaks (and a growing crack) later, she'd yet to fail me. There's a way that objects can embody the essence of places and, for Tennessee, she was it.