Perhaps I exaggerate about the freezing. But if you've got arthritis bad -- and there isn't any good way to have it -- and the wind is blowing the tops off the chop out in Taylor Creek and on Back Sound, it feels like extended winter. So well before dawn I hauled out of Beaufort and headed the back way over to Cherry Point, soaring over the Intracoastal Waterway at the high-rise bridge next to Bock Marine and scooting over the ancient Harlow Canal, a waterway forgotten to nearly everyone but local folks and historians who collect any fact that rises in the road. But it wasn't until I crossed the Trent at New Bern and the Neuse at Kinston that I began to warm up. The iPod was on and I listened to Ray Charles sing about that lucky old sun, and the day got brighter and better.
Dunno why that is. In these hills we just had the mildest winter in memory, except for one hail storm that is fetching some of my neighbors new roofs or new paint jobs on their trucks. A feller who visits the coast in May ought not get cold, though now that I think about it, maybe it was that tramping around in a restored wetlands up at North River Farms that made the joints ache so. When I first went up there 10 years ago, they had just planted little seedlings. Now it's a wetlands forest with trees 30 feet high or more. The sun must have shone on that land a lot this last decade.
Sitting here a few minutes ago, I noticed how much the sun's season had changed on us up in the hills. In the dead days of early winter, the sun would rise above Phil Wynn's log cabin way over on the ridge, and strike me in the corner of the eye around 8 a.m. or so. That was my signal to quit writing and go down for a cup of coffee. In 20 minutes or so, the sun would have moved on and stopped sending lasers at my eyes.
Today, pushing six months later, the sun now comes up over the ridge to the west of Bill Day's house. The lasers hit my wife in the eye at the breakfast table, and it was then that I realized the sun was now hitting us first from the east rather than the southeast. Time moves on, slow when you're watching, but fast when you turn your back. That sun has done a lot of rolling around in these parts of heaven.
So I looked up the lyrics, and found out that song is durn nigh old as I am. It was written in 1949, when I was 3, by Haven Gillespie with music by Beasley Smith. Everybody who was anybody has covered it. Frankie Laine. Frank Sinatra. Sam Cooke. Jerry Lee Lewis. Johnny Cash. Dean Martin. Brian Wilson, sort of. Aretha Franklin. Willie Nelson.
But in my book if you want to hear it right, listen to Ray Charles:
I know that lucky old sun Has nothin' to do But roll around heaven all day.