Monday, September 20, 2010


Loverby and I drove six hours to meet a simple country girl, her family, and one of her favorite musicians. She invited us. It was worth the drive. The farm country filled our senses with healing and wholeness. We miss small town farm life.

We packed light. Our tent, bedding, and coffee pot.

The first night we found a free camp spot on the Snake River called Madame Dorian's. It had an outhouse. No running water. Right on a lake with a train whistling through at all hours. It seemed a good fit. The sardine packed RV park that we had just passed wasn't our style.

It was dark when we arrived. As we were setting up the tent with a small flashlight, two older men came over with lanterns. The were toothless, wore scruffy clothes, and had had a bad hair day. They each had one lazy eye that kept drifting off. With severe speech impediments, they talked incessantly. We were grateful for the light, and their kindness, but it was awkward. It became clear that they were mentally disabled. Getting them to go home became a challenge. Social codes, norms, and cues weren't translating well.

Loverby needed to use the outhouse. He was gone quite a while. Too long. I started imagining the worst: Those men were part of a gypsy band of miscreants. They had jumped him. Stolen his wallet, threw him in the bushes dead. The truck keys were in his pocket. The area had few other campers. It was dark. The stake hammer was outside, out of reach. It felt like this was Deliverance and we were in need of some. Was that Dueling Banjos playing faintly in the background?

He finally came back. I asked if he could grab the hammer on the ground.

Sure, I'll put it in the truck.

No, no, bring it inside.


It is our only weapon.

Oh. For what?

Well, just in case we need it.


We promptly fell asleep to a train racing along the river. Its whistle was the last thing I remember until a patch of sheet lightning, lightning and cracking thunder woke us up. The sky split open. A downpour pounded. The tent pitched and bucked, but we went back to sleep when we realized no water was coming in. We woke up ~ surprised to be not only alive, but warm and dry.

The brothers and a son were waiting outside to greet us, as soon as we unzipped the door. Each was eating a bowl of dry fruit loops. Our hair looked similar to theirs now. Our clothes just as rumpled. Our smiles towards the lovely sunrise, and sage scented morning ~ exactly the same.

The oldest one melted my heart when he told Loverby he missed living on the farm they grew up on.

By morning's filter, after a strong cup of coffee ~ they only looked like two brothers taking care of each other in a harsh world ~ with enough kindness left over to offer us their light.


A Simple Country Girl said...

Hey miss Kathleen. I like the story better with the pictures. And I like you better in the flesh too--if that is even possible!

Thank you time and again for coming.


Maureen said...

You have the most amazing adventures, and the most wonderful way of writing about them. Great post!

Coming East would take the two of you quite a bit longer than 6 hours but there are some lovely campgrounds along the way. And we'd spring for you at our Kiwi cafe.

Laura said...

How awesome is that? Hey, I saw your hands over at SCG's place. I liked 'em too.

Kathleen Overby said...

Maureen, we will be enjoying the Kiwi Cafe together someday, soon! You've all been writing some wonderful posts lately. My eyes are leaky from dust in them, or perhaps your naked heart words. :)

katdish said...

You are such an adventurous soul, and I'm so glad (abeit more than a little jealous) that you and Darlene got to meet one another. You shine, Kathleen.

S. Etole said...

Imagining the meeting, the sharing, the fellowship ... feeling a tad envious!

Red Letter Believers said...

I want go camping with you guys! what fun

Lyla Lindquist said...

Oh Kathleen.

I was awfully glad I didn't have a beverage at hand when the banjos started playing.

Agreeing with the others -- what adventures you have. What adventures you allow yourself to have.

Susan said...

I cried when I read this post.

Connecting on a soul level, in spite of bed head, simpleness (and fruit loops) is what life is all about. How often do we miss an opportunity b/c of fear or judgment....

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic story! Not only because you are making online connections into real life adventures, but the whole transformation of the brothers from guarded to sharing Fruit Loops, was beautiful. Realizing their sweetness rather than danger, sharing the same bad hair (loved that part!) - this is amazing.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Wow! Great story. Great story telling and great heart.

And.... coming north by east would put you right here at the foot of the Canadian Rockies...

And we've got campgrounds along the way too!