The glazed-eye look of the snowbound

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, January 28, 2016

“Snow melts into a pool of clear water;
and, in this stillness,
starlight behind daylight wherever you gaze.”

~ Arthur Sze, excerpt from “First Snow”

Dear Winter:

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Please leave. Take icicles and heaps of endless snow along with you. Send spring.

I have a feeling that many of us are thinking those thoughts lately. The first snow is lovely as it feathers to earth from silver-gray clouds, quietly blanketing mountain landscapes in pristine white. I may be a native of Alaska, but the blood is mighty thin these days, and bone-chilling cold just bites. No thanks, not-so-dear winter. Pack it!

Today was the first time I’d managed to break out the snow-encrusted truck from the upper drive. Snowplows left a hurdle to clear, mush underfoot slippery. Truck wasn’t having any of it until it reared back in the drive, yours truly punching the gas for all it was worth. For all that, I headed to the library for a quick book fix, then to the grocery store for a ham bone for bean soup—where I found Bill and Sheila Russell stocking back up. They, too, had been trapped for days. Folks who have been snow-bound too long are mighty glad to see each other. We wear a glazed look, fellow sufferers unsure of how to act in public!

Bill and I had a Saluda-style visit while Sheila shopped. During the winter storm, Bill’s brother, Jerry Russell, better known as “Doc Russell,” passed away in the hospital. It was a shock to us all. I often saw Doc, wearing his straw hat, drive past my house in his burgundy truck, a tall silver-haired fellow intent on driving, often heading down to the grill to entertain some folks. (Sometimes they were clueless just how much entertainment had been had, especially the Florida out-of-towners led to believe he was from New York City studying up on Appalachian speech and such.)

Sometimes he’d be in his classic burgundy-red car, but you always knew it was Doc cruising by, always that tall form with the iconic straw hat. For years, he led the Veterans’ Day ceremony at our Veterans’ Park. And I can tell you, he took it seriously—usually the ceremony lasted nearly an hour with him at the helm. One thing about Doc Russell, he was one of a kind. Determined.

According to Bill, Doc served in the Navy, Army, National Guard, and earned himself a multitude of degrees despite growing up poor. Bill, older by two years, remembers wiring $12 he’d had to borrow to Boone, so Jerry who was by then attending ASU, could buy meal tickets and eat. At that time, $12 was a lot of money.

He taught for years, then returned to Saluda School as principal—probably the only person who ever attended the school for twelve years, then returned in charge! When he discovered books as a young man, he could be found alongside a lake, parked and reading away. Or hunting with his dogs. He was a Saluda native, a Saluda treasure, and a character. We’re losing our characters faster and faster as time passes, and he was one of a kind. In my mind’s eye, I see Doc with straw hat, riding tall in an old truck, and his deep love of this little town.

Saluda Welcome Table is every Tuesday, with dinner served from 5:30-7 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Saluda United Methodist Church. All welcome; donations accepted.

Artists: The 13th annual Saluda Art Festival will be on May 21 and applications for this juried festival are being accepted now. Visit for a link to the art festival page, or contact Susie Welsh at or Wendy Hamil at

There’s still time to honor a loved one with an engraved brick paver for Pace Park. Proceeds go toward building public restrooms at this community park to be located downtown near M.A. Pace Store. For information, contact Catherine Ross at 828-749-3534 or

Due to winter weather, Saluda Historic Depot rescheduled Saluda Train Tales with Gerald Ledford presenting “Logging Railroads” for Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m. The program is free and open to the public.

Saluda Community Land Trust (SCLT) will benefit from your donations for this year ahead, or your time as a volunteer for their many community projects. Contact SCLT at 828-749-1560 or visit

The Saluda branch of Tree City USA meets at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month at Saluda Library.

Happy January birthday to Nora Parks Anderson, Brandy Bradley, Alex Bardos, Carolyn Ashburn, Scott Kinard, Donna Bond, Greer Eargle, Wyatt Alan Pace, Irma Anderson, Paul Aaybe, Rich Rauschenbach, Phyllis Arrington, Kenneth Justus, Cheryl Harbin and Avery Lena Mintz. Please add your birthday to the list. No ages mentioned unless you’re under two or over 100!

Thank you for reading this column, dear readers. As ever, the goal is to make you feel like you’re enjoying small town life in a friendly little mountain town called Saluda. Feel free to contact me at or 749-1153. I always love hearing from you! Or visit for more writing and art, or find me on Facebook.