Reasons for flying
“Strange travel instructions are dancing lessons from God."—Kurt Vonnegut
Culture Vulture has of late been steeping his brain in the letters and journals of those two legendary travelers and beat romantics of American letters, Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac. So it seemed only fitting to scrape, on the spur of the moment, the accumulated change of the past few years together in a heap and use it to fund an unexpected journey to somewhere distant, romantic and bohemian.
Despite the subliminal influence of the aforementioned C. & K., what really started the whole chain of events in motion was the chance interception of a phone call by the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie from her Uncle Jim, pillar of the community of Moscow and a genuine dyed-in-the-wool bohemian in his own right. A man, as they say, after my own heart. A guy whose 60th birthday is worthy of grand community celebrations and the gathering of far-flung family and friends. The mere suggestion that Daphie and I would be welcomed there if only time and economics allowed was enough to motivate us to examine and scrape the bottom of any barrel that might serve up sufficient moolah to get us there on time.
Praise be to Allah, Yahweh, the Saints, the Bodhisattvas and all other benevolent influences and chance circumstances, our barrel scraping rendered just enough legal tender to fund the journey, and a conspiracy of secrecy evolved that would intensify the impact of our arrival, bolster the already strong affection shared by Daphie and her Aunt Carolyn, and test the astounding secret-keeping powers of Jim’s daughter, the amazing 6-year-old Emma Rose.
Arrival and impact
Three weeks of furtive communiqués and joyful anticipation crawled and flew by simultaneously, and before we knew it our plane had hopped from Sacramento to Seattle to Spokane and we were cruising across the rolling hills and barely sprouting grain fields of the Palouse, packed into Carolyn’s Subaru wagon and beginning to worry a little that the shock of our surprise arrival could have a potentially debilitating impact on our unsuspecting host. Not that that stopped us from developing further machinations to enhance that impact.
The luggage was hidden in an out-building, Daphie and I slipped off down the road for a circuitous stroll, and Carolyn proceeded to the house as though just returning from a routine trip to the city.
Fifteen minutes or so later, Daphie and I sauntered up the garden path to where Jim was laying composted llama poop around some seedling pines and greeted him with a hearty, “Hey, Jim, where’s the party?”
The look of astounded joy and surprise on his face as he struggled to decide whether to hug us, sit on the wheelbarrow or lie down on the ground in shock was worth every effort expended to get there. And two days of savoring the salt of the Earth will sustain us till the next dancing lesson comes along.