Monday, December 03, 2007

Perfect Attendance

When I was a kid, my parents moved their dwindling family to the mountains of northern Georgia. Despite the fact that we were in the northern fourth of the state, and that we were near some of the highest country in Georgia, it never snowed where we lived. Well, almost never. We got one good snowfall during the four years we lived there.

However, when we’d drive to the end of the road, we could look toward the Tennessee border and see the really big mountains that loomed not too many miles away. Peaks like Rich Mountain, Grassy Mountain, and Big Frog Mountain, all of which were right at, or over 4,000 feet above sea level. When the weather was moist and cool around our house, those mountains would get a good snowfall. Every couple of weeks in the fall and winter we’d come to a particularly good view and those high peaks would be solid white with ice and snow. “Look”, my dad would say. “Grassy’s frozen again.” Often, I’d sit there with him and we’d gaze up at those glistening ridges reaching high into the cold gray sky or scraping the blue horizon.

“We should drive up there,” one of us would say. “We should drive up there and play in the snow.” Natives of the low country near the Florida border, neither of us had seen many snowfalls. Not me as a teen, nor my dad as a fifty-six year old man.

“Let’s go,” I’d say.

But my dad would think about it a minute, and always reply that I’d have to miss school and he didn’t want me to miss my classes. I think he was telling the truth. I was a smart kid and my parents thought that I’d end up in a decent college and become something other than a plumber or a bookseller. They figured I’d be a chemist or a biologist or an engineer or a zoologist or an English professor. Something for which I’d need the education I was getting in the public schools.

As it was, I ended up being a mailman. It didn’t matter at all if I’d missed a day or two of school now and again to drive up into the high country with my dad to play in snow that was rare and beautiful to us low country Southern boys. It wouldn’t have mattered at all, and I’d have a few more memories of time spent with my dad, other than seeing him gripping the steering wheel of his Chevy pickup truck, his eyes squinting at those white, gleaming ramparts rising high into the sky, dominating the blue to the north.

I’d have liked that.

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