Reunion on the Natchez Trace

June 13, 2006

This morning I left the cabin about 6:30 AM and drove thirteen miles north on the Natchez Trace, parking my car at a scenic location called Browns Bottom. That’s a change for me because a) I usually ride my bike in the late afternoon, and b) I generally start at the Saltillo exit and ride north. But I had some extra time this morning so that’s why I started my ride at Browns Bottom. I rode my bike north from there, across the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and into a section of the Trace where tall pine trees stand sentinel near the road. When I had ridden a bit over ten miles, I turned around to go back, retracing my route. A few minutes later I noticed an SUV honk as it passed by. There wasn’t much traffic this morning so I thought it was just someone saying hello. A minute later I saw that the SUV had turned around and was coming back in my direction. It passed me and then pulled off the road a few yards ahead. I thought it was Marlene and her friend Mari Burda, coming to me find me. That seemed strange since I had my cell phone and they could call, but sometimes on the Trace you pass through sections where reception is very weak. But it wasn’t Marlene and Mari anyway.
It was my brother Andy and his wife Betty and their daughters Megan and Kathleen. Just writing that sentence puts a smile on my face. I was totally surprised to see them, but not as surprised as they were to see me. Andy said the girls were asleep in the back seat when they passed me the first time and he said, “I think that’s Ray.” So he pulled the car over, turned around, passed me to be sure, and then stopped. They were on their way back home to Florence, AL after a weekend trip to Heber Springs, Arkansas where according to Andy, Megan and Kathleen caught over 40 trout on Sunday. Actually it was catch and release, which made it more fun because they didn’t have to clean the fish they caught. They spent last night in Oxford watching Game 3 of the college baseball Super-Regional between Ole Miss and Miami. So on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, on the beautiful Natchez Trace, my beloved older brother explained why Miami won the game while Betty rolled her eyes. As Betty says, Andy and I are a lot alike, which I take as a compliment, and that would make her roll her eyes again, which explains why Marlene and Betty get along so well.
Anyway, we had a brief family reunion on the Natchez Trace. Megan said she’d see me at the wedding in Vermont next month. After a few minutes, they drove off because Andy (who was already dressed in his surgical greens), had to be in the office at 9 AM. I doubt if he made it, but it was worth it to see my family when I didn’t expect it. I’ve been smiling all day long.

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