Joe Ford, of Louisville, Ky., responds to Reunion on the Rocks with some reflections of his own. If you would like to submit a post to Clearing the Fog, please contact us here.
It occurs to me that I spent my winter in three pursuits:
1. Contemplating, from an evolutionary standpoint, why my hair is migrating from the top of my head to my ears and nose. What’s up with that?
2. Worrying about spontaneous human combustion. It’s a thing, apparently.
3. Hmmm… ummm… wait, wait… uh, oh darn, I can’t remember. It will come back to me.
Sallie’s recent post reminded me that, instead, I could have been stumbling along the trails in the Red River Gorge and adjacent Clifty Wilderness. My family has spent a lot of time there camping in the milder months, mostly at Koomer Ridge or Whittleton. In the winter we retreated to the cabins at Natural Bridge, snuggling up before the fireplace after a winter hike.
Derby weekend was our favorite time to head to the hills: no school activities, no violin recitals, no social requirements. It was easy for us to get away, as it was for my daughter’s friends and their families who followed us down. Everyone brought something for communal use.
Pity the newcomers who signed up to bring cups. You have not seen indecision until you’ve seen a newly environmentally conscious parent standing in Kroger trying to decide between the red plastic cups and the Styrofoam cups. (Will the other parents judge me? Will the kids ostracize my child? Where the hell are those tiny little paper Dixie cups?) Soon they would learn, as we had: bring all your mugs from home and take them back with you.
Once a family from India was assigned to bring the makings of s’mores. You know, graham crackers, Hershey bars, marshmallows. Delivered as ordered: graham animal crackers, mini-bite Hershey bars, and tiny hot chocolate marshmallows.
Derby weekend was also a perfect time to be in the woods: the wildflowers were out in droves, and our favorite trails sheltered their treasured jack-in-the-pulpits and pink lady slippers. And if you saw a yellow one, well, the angels must have noticed what a bad week you’d had.
Perhaps Jim and Jeff and Sallie and Greg and Walter and Bob and Bob would let me tag along. I hope to have more time soon. As you may have surmised from my enumerated winter pursuits above, I am sort of on a glide path to retirement. Not quite 65, but I recently quit my long-time corporate jobs and took a pay cut to help with a small business run by my brother as he brought it out of the pandemic shutdown.
For those readers contemplating a similar move, let me counsel you to learn from my mistakes (revealed in that little paragraph above). I am not a math or accounting major, so it took me by surprise when the seemingly innocuous idea of accepting a salary cut turned into less money actually being deposited in my bank account each week. I mean, who knew?
So when I finally, gulp, step down to zero income and full retirement, maybe I can hike with you guys. I expect I’ll be feeling lost and confused. You, the experienced hikers and retirees, can nudge me in the right direction, down the trail and on through the next stage of life.