Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Purple Cow

"Some turns on the route to your destination may not be found."

This was the report that the voice on one of our GPS systems (it came with the truck) made as we headed to the towns of Appalachia, Norton, and Wise in Virgina. The second GPS voice (we had this one before the truck) made valiant attempts at guiding us, but to no avail. So, this was one of those "adventure days" I had written about in an earlier entry.

The day began with a moderate fog hovering over the campground. As we headed north, low hanging clouds provided an early blanket to the hills of the Jefferson National Forest.

As we entered the town of Duffield, we couldn't help but notice the old train station. It seems to have become the repository for signs from area train stations. We have seen cabooses "parked" by Virginia state parks and other sites of interest and were told that freight trains no longer have cabooses, so they have been retired to these sites. They are very colorful additions to any setting.

The local rivers provide clear evidence of the infrequent rain in the area. My guess is that this river should have been flowing along smoothly instead of flowing around the rocks. More picturesque, yes; a good sign, no.

The town of Wise proudly proclaims that it is the home of George C. Scott and a branch of the University of Virginia. We thought the Wise County Courthouse (built in 1896) deserved a similar form of recognition.

One behavior we have developed is that of always having a camera with us. When driving, this means that the camera is turned on and can be reached, aimed, and clicked quickly--sometimes withhout getting a good look at the subject. This home in Wise was such a subject. We had the advantage of a red light, but nevertheless, a quick shot sometimes cuts off a portion of the scene or is not composed as we would like it. But this home really begged to be photographed.

One of the stores in Norton also seemed to be calling out to us. The color was unique among all of the small towns we had visited in the area.

But it was seeing this color on the cow in Weber City (VA) that made the day. A Purple Cow. I began reciting The Poem as soon as I saw it.

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

This was written by Gelett Burgess (1866-1951), who was the founding editor of Lark, a humor magazine, in 1895. After hearing several parodies of this poem and several years of being asked to recite it, he became so annoyed about being known primarily for "The Purple Cow" that he wrote the following:

Ah, Yes! I wrote the "Purple Cow" --
I'm sorry, now, I wrote it!
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'll Kill you if you Quote it!

Well, that was a long way to go to get to one of the two poems I can still recite from memory.

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