Monday, July 21, 2008

Suttree Gang

Photo by Peter Joseph.
Here we are standing above where Suttree lived on the river. Our host Wes, Barb, Paulo, translating Suttree into Portuguese, his wife Alexandra, and me.

The next day we climbed a mountain to see a spot from the novel. When Wes said mountain, my snobby rockie attitude assumed he meant "hill".

Here are our three posts later at the mutual bookclub "The Cormac McCarthy Forum":

Tennessee in July? Candy Minx 7/19/2008
Yo yo yo, it is late after an intense day. Paulo and his wife convinced me to extend my stay in Knoxville and I am so glad I am/did. Wes tried to kill us today taking us to the top of a mountain where the children's cemetary is sad, beautiful and secret.

I had no idea Wes was an elite athlete and I bow to his stamina and knowledge of the Knoxville area.

I would go google how high this mountain was to report our hike...but frankly I am just too tired to go to google.

:) In a good way tired!

I can not possibly put into a few words how this week has been like, to not only meet people who have engaged a part of my imagination and reverie for years but to also find oneself climbing into Harrogate's old house to wander alley's Suttree did or woods and to enjoy the knowledge and stories of so many fellow readers.

I have no idea how to thank and/or express the enthusiasm and fun of meeting with Wes, Paulo, his wife, Rick and his son, Peter J, and his wife, the people of Knoxville who often shared stories and great service, to meet Glass/Peter etc etc. (But today I took as many pictures of mushrooms Glass that I possibly could and will post on YouTube later this were on the mountain with us!!!!)

I took some photos maybe they will help when I get a chance to post them.

I am on some kind of high only the imagination and awesome company could support.

We do not have internet acess but we found the mercy of a hotel who let us come in and use their office for a few minutes and check in with you all here at forum.

Later sportsfans!

Tennessee in July? wesmorgan 7/20/2008
On Saturday, tired of urban Knoxville, the remaining hard-core members of the ad-hoc McCarthy Conference (Candy Minx, Paulo Faria and his wife, and somebody else) decided to head for the mountains. They planned to follow the route taken by the father and child in THE ROAD from the father’s (and McCarthy’s) family home in South Knoxville to the 5,000-foot gap in the mountains. Paulo wanted to borrow a grocery cart to push along the highway to increase the authenticity of the experience but was overruled by the others because of time constraints. They traveled through Sevierville (of Lester Ballard fame) and Pigeon Forge where they temporarily had their world view turned upside down by one of the tourist traps along the roadside. They passed around the tourist town of Gatlinburg and entered the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where they (well-practiced as they were by this time from their Knoxville experiences) once again inspected the underside of a bridge and admired the CCC’s handiwork without becoming impaled on any steel rods. After a brief pit-stop at the Park Visitor Center they proceeded up the mountain highway to Newfound Gap where they looked out over the road to Cherokee, NC from the (filled this time) parking lot and the site of FDR’s dedication of the Park.

They then changed their direction (and novel) and returned to Gatlinburg to seek the site of the children’s cemetery that Sut found and visited during his 40-or-so days in the wilderness. Led by a long-legged, elderly local mountain hiker, they set off ignoring the high 80-degree temperatures, high humidity and ozone warning and set off in search of the cemetery. The four-lane road they were traveling quickly was reduced to a two-lane paved road, then to an unpaved road that was single lane wide in places. After crossing three small single lane bridges they took off on foot in search of an old, unmarked and unmaintained mountain road (trail) that led up the mountain and into the woods. The trail went ever upward sometimes accompanied by impressive rock fences 3-feet high and nearly a 100-yards long. Despite their hunger, they passed by any number of inviting mauve colored mushrooms along the trail and elected to sample the wild blueberries (very tasty) instead. As they toiled onward, the trail became ever steeper and narrower and the temperature ever hotter. As an added incentive, Paulo promised to recite an Oscar Wilde poem when the cemetery was reached. With this encouragement and plenty of spring water all eventually reached the cemetery site and were struck with forlornness of the sight of the three children’s graves. The original tombstones had been replaced within the last twenty years, but some fragments of the original stones remained. These were carefully excavated, cleaned and photographed for posterity. After a brief visit to the old Barnes family homesite and fields, Paulo duly recited “Sonnet On Hearing The Dies Irae Sung In The Sistine Chapel” in fulfillment of his promise. Spontaneous applause erupted among those other hikers not still in severe oxygen dept.

The return trip down the mountain seemed strangely easier than the ascent suggesting the operation of some important physical law. The hikers believed Paulo had become so excited about this discovery that he broke out into what appeared to be a some kind of Portuguese tarantella or mountain buckdance only to find out later that he had stepped upon a yellowjacket nest. Such are the strange ways of foreign lands. The group eventually made it back to their auto for the return trip to Knoxville with most the hikers that they started with. All-in-all it was a very enjoyable and successful excursion.

Tennessee in July? Candy Minx 7/20/2008
Ah!!!! 5ooo feet!!! No wonder. How pathetic, I was almost as bad as Sandy Hill Pittman.

Paulo, his wife Alexandra and I are on our way to the river for a paddleboat float, then Blount Mansion, after a brief stop in the library to read Wes's account. Thanks Wes, perfect! We have tried some regional food such as chicken fried steak with sausage gravy, fried green tomatoes, onion loaf, fried okra and turnip greens, some catfish. We have seen two signs that said "see rock city"...which Wes had the very good idea would make a great name for a band! We also ran into a small print making company owner who was wearing a T-shirt that had delicate spiral print with the word "Suttree". Her brother named his band after their favourite character...and we hope to find access to their T-shirts.


Anonymous said...

I love your Knoxville posts. I am so sick with envy...chartruese really. (however you spell it)

AND so happy for what a great time you had. You and Rick sounded like you were having such a fun time - even though I was mortified to be on the phone...while of course secretly, blushingly pleased.

Call me! (at the inlaws)


Boomer said...

Really enjoyed this post. That's it. I'm going to have to read The Road now. Denise from CR

Stagg said...

Wow..who's tha' blonde babe?

Candy Minx said...

Underground Baker, I will try to call you this afternoon...I am still very tired from bus trip.

Boomer, I think you will LOVE "The Road".

Stagg, hugs baby I love ya!