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Entries in connection (4)


Blue Highways: Valleyfork, Wallback and Left Hand, West Virginia

Unfolding the Map

As we wind our way through the mountains of West Virginia, past the tiny towns in the small river valleys, William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) has a sense of going back in time.  How often have we all felt that sense, in one way or another, and how often have we brushed aside the thrill and the melancholy of it all as we charge ahead into the future.  I have, but then again, I've also allowed myself to bathe in it, soak it in, and breathe it.  It's easy to commune with the past and its ghosts, if you are willing to let yourself.  Go to the map to learn where to find Valleyfork, Wallback and Left Hand.  And look at the lovely monarch butterfly to the right, West Virginia's state butterfly.

Book Quote

"State 4 followed the Elk River, an occluded green thickness that might have been split pea puree.  The Elk provided a narrow bench, the only level land, and on it people had built homes, although the river lay between them and the road and necessitated hundreds of little handmade bridges - many of them suspension footbridges, the emblem of Appalachia.  From rock ledges broken open by the highway cut, where seeps dripped, hung five-gallon galvanized buckets to collect the spring water.

"Again came the feeling I'd had all morning, that somehow I'd made a turn in time rather than in space and driven into the thirties.  The only things that showed a later decade were the pickup trucks: clean and new, unlike the rattling, broken automobiles.

"West Virginia 36, a quirk of a road, went into even more remote land, the highway so narrow my right tires repeately dropped off the pavement.  Towns: Valleyfork, Wallback, and Left Hand (a school, church, post office, and large hole once the Exxon station)."

Blue Highways: Part 10, Chapter 3

Mountain scene near Wallback, West Virginia. Photo by SHAMROCKSUE and hosted at Panoramio. Click on photo to go to host site.Valleyfork, Wallback and Left Hand

I'm in a melancholy mood as I write this post, Littourati.  I'm listening to melancholy music, and LHM's quote also has the feeling of melancholia about it.  I've always found the past to be melancholy anyway - times gone by that sit in our memories and resurface in the present, like shadows in a mist, and then disappear again have a tinge of sadness and wistfulness associated with them.

In the book Shoeless Joe (made into the movie Field of Dreams), a farmer by the name of Ray is filled with melancholy over the lost opportunities of his life.  Ray hears a call to build a baseball field, which he does.  Then he hears another call, one commanding him to "ease his pain."  By a process of investigation, he comes to believe that he must ease the pain of the reclusive writer JD Salinger.  After contacting and kidnapping (sort of) Salinger and attending a Boston Red Sox game with him, Ray sees the name of "Moonlight Graham" on an apparently malfunctioning Red Sox scoreboard.  He and Salinger track down Graham to his hometown of Chisolm, Minnesota, only to find that he died some years before after a lifetime as a physician.  Graham had played in one game in the major leagues, but only got 2 innings in the field and never got an at-bat.  That night in Chisolm, Ray can't sleep and gets up to go for a walk, leaving the sleeping Salinger in the hotel.  As he wanders outside into a cold, foggy night, he sees a figure carrying a bag moving slowly in an empty street of a Chisolm of yesteryear.  He follows him and discovers the halting figure is Moonlight Graham, returning late at night from a house call, who invites Ray home.  Graham tells Ray his story, and reveals that despite a full and fulfilling life, that he always missed baseball and his regret over missing that one chance at bat.

I won't spoil the rest of the novel, which is wonderful, as is the movie adaptation.  I bring the novel up because it almost makes real the feeling of turning a corner, and finding oneself in the past, or a different era, and the delicious melancholy that accompanies those feelings.  We've all experienced such feelings, I imagine, even if we might not have recognized it.

The strongest moment I can think of where I experienced such a feeling was in Istanbul, Turkey.  I was walking through a market bazaar when one of the five daily Islamic call to prayers began.  I suddenly felt like I was in a different time, which in itself was strange because the call was being sent through speakers at the nearby Blue Mosque.  Yet I was transfixed in a moment that, even though I noted that I was in the present, seemed like it could have been from any time in the past 1000 years.  I've felt this in other places also.  At Ephesus, again in Turkey, there were plenty of tourists milling around, but when I went around the corner of a ruin and into an area where I was alone for a few minutes, I could almost feel the Greek and Roman ghosts brushing softly past me.  In a really interesting twist, as I marveled at the engineering in the latrines, I could imagine Roman men, almost as if they were really there, sitting on those toilet seats conducting lofty conversations in politics, business, philosophy and science while taking care of far more earthy needs.  While people milled around in the base of the ancient Ephesian theater, I went to the top of the seats and while the wind softly blew and I looked out over the fields that once were the Aegean Sea, now two miles distant, I could feel the Greek and Roman patrons sit next to me, watching a tragedy by Sophocles or a comedy by Aristophanes on the stage below.

In Chaco Canyon, I felt the shoulders and feet of many generations of ancestral pueblo forebears bringing stone after stone to build the great complexes and kivas that served as the center of their religious rites.  In Rome, I could see the crowd roaring in the Colosseum as gladiators fought for freedom, money and the adulation of crowd and emperor, and I saw chariots racing around the Circus Maximus, even though all that was left was a flat oval.  I've also, in my mind's ear, heard the angelic voice of Hildegard von Bingen rising in a lovely and challenging counterpoint to the monks choirs in the 12th century monastery where she entered holy orders near Odernheim, Germany.

But the feeling of walking into a different era is not just confined to the spectacular places of history, but wherever one makes a connection with the past.  I've felt it on the site of the former lumber mill in the Irmulco Valley, which hosted a surrounding town of workers in the early 1900s, but which is only marked by some crumbling brick foundations today.  I've even felt it on trails in the redwood forest, when a shiver goes up my spine as I realize that people have trod the same paths for generations.  And always, along with the thrill of being one the past in a connection through time, is the melancholy when I realize that one day I too will be one of those ghosts, or simply a faded memory, that lightly tugs at the sleeve or thoughts of a wandering passerby as he or she stops in a moment of reverie, and then moves on.

Musical Interlude

I wrote above that I was melancholy, and I'm going to share the playlist that I've entitled Melancholia with you.  It features a variety of music styles and artists, and for 2½ hours you can wallow in some sweet sadness.

Melancholia from mhessnm on 8tracks Radio.

If you want to know more about Valleyfork, Wallback and Left Hand

Wikipedia: Left Hand
Wikipedia: Valley Fork
Wikipedia: Wallback

Next up: Spencer, West Virginia


Blue Highways: Judy Gap, Seneca Rocks and Elkins, West Virginia

Unfolding the Map

Twisty and spine-wrenching roads can often lead to interesting places.  What begins, in this post, as a reflection on winding roads at home leads to the realization and exploration of how two places can engender a feeling of connection and comfort.  All this takes place in the winding mountain roads of West Virginia.  (Note: William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) refers to "Mouth of Seneca" in his quote.  However, the town has since renamed itself "Seneca Rocks," and I use their current name throughout this post.)

Book Quote

"The road, a thing to wrench an eel's spine, went at the mountains in all the ways: up, down, around, over, through, under, between.  I've heard - who knows the truth - that if you rolled West Virginia out like a flapjack, it would be as large as Texas.  Where possible in the mountainous interruptions, towns opened briefly: Judy Gap, Mouth of Seneca, Elkins."

Blue Highways: Part 10, Chapter 3

Seneca Rocks, the geological formation for which the town (formerly Mouth of Seneca) is named. Photo by Aneta Kaluzna and hosted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host page.

Judy Gap, Seneca Rocks and Elkins, West Virginia

I grew up in a small Northern California town, and the only way in and out of town is by one of three highways.  Either one drives Highway 20 from Willits over to my hometown of Fort Bragg, or drives Highway 128 from Cloverdale to the mouth of the Navarro River, and then north on Highway 1.  The other access into town was one we never took because we rarely went north.  That route comes south from Highway 101 at Leggett down Highway 1.

These roads run through the Coast Range and therefore, like LHM describes, are enough to "wrench an eel's spine."  Curves, and switchbacks.  Horrible drop-offs into valleys, rivers or oceans.  Rarely can one get enough speed to reach 50 miles per hour safely except on the occasional straight stretch that might run for a quarter mile or so.  While only 35 miles, it could easily take 45 minutes to an hour to traverse the distance between Willits and Fort Bragg.  Highway 128 was about 75 miles from Cloverdale to the coast, but the 35 mile stretch between Cloverdale and Boonville is one of the worst stretches of twisty road I've ever driven, until it flattens and becomes more straight in the Anderson Valley and along the Navarro River.

When I visited Appalachian Kentucky for the first time in my mid-twenties, and drove through the mountains of West Virginia in my late twenties and early thirties, I felt like I was home.  The roads twist and turn and often reminded me of stretches along Highways 20 and 128.  The sheer drop offs over valleys, like that of the New River, and the way that the curves stretch short distances into driving odysseys, made driving those areas an exercise in the awakening of memory.  Had I grown up in Appalachia I most likely would have gotten car sick fairly regularly in the first few years of my life, just like I experienced in my youth in Northern California.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that my biological mother's family was from a mountainous area of West Virginia!  I was recently talking to someone who posed the theory that we are a product of the places where we were raised, and that our connection to place might even be lodged in our genetic material.  Given the feeling of comfort that I had when in Appalachia, particularly in the pace of life, the people, the mountains and the natural beauty, I can almost believe in a genetic attachment.  How could I have felt so much at home there if some kind of genetic connection had not been passed through generations to my biological mother and then to me?

You may disagree, Littourati.  The similarity of the area may only have awakened deep-seated longings for home.  The mountains may have simply reminded me of the mountains surrounding my home town.  The way of life in rural areas may not be much different regardless of the region or area, and the people may have similar ways of looking at things.  I grew up in a blue-collar town, and a lot of Appalachian towns are mining towns and therefore blue-collar also.  Blue-collar people simply have a similar outlook on life regardless of where they are.

And you might be right.  But whether it is a genetic connection, or just reminders of home, I felt something driving through those mountains.  That feeling of home, whether I am in Northern California or 3,000 miles away in West Virginia, taught me that I never have to be homesick if I don't wish to.  Each time I am by an ocean, or even a large lake, I can find things that remind me of my beloved Pacific.  I was especially surprised to find such similarities once while driving along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.  Whenever I am in mountains, memories of my youth come flooding back, and I am always ready to explore a gulch, valley or holler, and to sit and dip my toes in a creek, stream or river.  The vegetation and animal life may be a little different, but I find that my connection always has to do with the feeling of the place, not the specifics.

I remember that my wife and I went to visit some friends in Hazard, Kentucky before we were married.  It was a late afternoon and I was sitting on a porch of a house that looked very much like the cabin where I spent my summers in my youth.  I used to sit on the deck by our cabin in the late afternoon, listening to the ball game or maybe the lonely wail of the approaching train from Willits.  The sun, as it lowered in the sky, shone through the leaves of the oak trees that bordered our deck.  The light diffusing through the leaves gave them a brilliant green hue that often struck me dumb with amazement.  I also remember the scent of the afternoon forest, the music of the river over its rocks, the soft rustle of the leaves as they in a late afternoon breeze, and the sound of insects that pervaded throughout.  My father, often very Buddha-like as he sat in shorts, bare-chested, with me on the deck sometimes would say "Listen, Michael.  Listen to the trees.  They are telling you something, if you just listen."  On that day in Hazard, Kentucky, in the late afternoon, I had the same kind of feeling and I smelled a similar scent in the forest.  The breeze through the trees, and the sun shining through the leaves, was very similar to that of home.  Even the insects seemed to sing the same song.

I told my friends to be quiet, and listen to what the trees were saying.  They thought it was weird, and soon went back to chatting.  I just smiled, and enjoyed a warm and familiar feeling, because I knew what the trees were saying...

Peace, they rustled, as the sun slowly sank behind the mountains.

Musical Interlude

I always liked this song, Peaceful Easy Feeling by The Eagles, though the subject of the lyrics is a little off the topic of the post.  I used to imagine lying with a girl under those same trees I described, in the afternoon sun, looking up at the brilliant green leaves offsetting with the brilliant blue sky, amid the dappling of shadows and sunlight on the ground.  I thought that there could be nothing more romantic.

If you want to know more about Judy Gap, Mouth of Seneca and Elkins

City of Elkins
e-WV: Judy Gap
The InterMountain (Elkins newspaper)
Virginia Wind: Seneca Rocks
Wikipedia: Elkins
Wikipedia: Judy Gap
Wikipedia: Seneca Rocks (geological formation)
Wikipedia: Seneca Rocks (town

Next up: Buckhannon, West Virginia


Blue Highways: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, New York

Unfolding the Map

We pass over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on our way into Staten Island and eventually out of New York City.  Why do bridges figure so prominently in our architecture, and why do we celebrate them so much?  I have a few ideas.  To see where the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge spans the waters of New York, cross over to the map.

Book Quote

"....Then a windingly protracted ascent up the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (the Silver Gate of the East coast) with its world's longest center span, and below the bay where the Great Eastern, the Monitor, the Bonhomme Richard, and the Half Moon sailed.

"The low sun turned the Upper Bay orange.  Freighters rode at anchor or headed to the Atlantic, and to the north, in the distance, a little glint of coppery green that was the Statue of Liberty.  I slowed to gawk and got a horn; the driver passed in a gaseous cloud and held aloft a middle digit opinion."

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 7

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Photo by Carl and hosted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host page.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, New York

More than any other city that I've visited, New York is connected as a city, an entity and a wider community through its bridges.

Recently, on a trip to Brooklyn with my wife for a friend's wedding, I was reminded of just how special the bridges in New York City actually are.  My wife had never strolled across the Brooklyn Bridge, and so we took part of a day to walk across.  For anyone traveling to New York, I would suggest you make that walk.  It is on an elevated wooden walkway above the traffic, and the views are phenomenal.  Just on a superficial level, if you want an amazing view of the skyline of Manhattan, the bridge is worth that walk across.  But there are multiple levels.  At each tower there are plaques that briefly tell the story of how the bridge was built, and the context of history in which it was built.

At the time the bridge was conceived, New York City was really just Manhattan.  Brooklyn was its own city and political entity and in many ways a rival of New York City.  A walk along the upper walkway takes one past a plaque that shows a woman representing the City of New York clasping hands with a woman representing the City of Brooklyn, with the bridge underneath, and the motto Finis Coronat Opus.  The Latin translates literally into "the end crowns the work," but could mean "the end justifies the means" or "the end of a crowning achievement."  Regardless, the Brooklyn Bridge paved the way for Brooklyn and New York to join together to create a greater New York.  At this time, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island also joined.

Much of New York is on islands.  Manhattan is its own island, separated from New Jersey on the west by the Hudson, and on the east from Brooklyn and Queens by the East River.  To the south of Manhattan lies Staten Island, which is also separated from New Jersey on the west by the Arthur Kill and on the east from Brooklyn by The Narrows.  There are 10 bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn over the East River.  There are fifteen bridges over the Harlem River, connecting Manhattan to the Bronx.  There is one bridge over the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge connecting Manhattan to New Jersey and four bridges connecting Staten Island to New Jersey.  Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  Of all the bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first completed, in 1883, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was the last major bridge to be completed, in 1964, spanning 81 years of a process where New York City connected itself together into the unified metropolis we now know.  And all of this doesn't even count the tunnels that were dug under the rivers for traffic, train and subway service.  Nor does it count the ferry services that existed before the Brooklyn Bridge, and which still operate as alternative ways to travel in the New York City area.

In fact, I'd argue that without the bridges, New York City wouldn't have become the major city that it is today.  New York City is what it is because of the variety of its boroughs and neighborhoods within them.  On my last trip there, I had the opportunity to spend a morning and early afternoon in the neighborhoods and more laid-back central areas of Brooklyn, getting the flavor of the place through its fine museum, its botanical gardens and its restaurants.  Then, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, noisy, busy and constantly moving.  We got above the hubbub on the High Line and enjoyed a less crowded, more peaceful walk through Chelsea, and then took a taxi up to  to meet a friend in a high-rise and fancy apartment for drinks on 5th Avenue overlooking Central Park.  We ended back up in Brooklyn by subway later that evening.

Staten Island, closer to New Jersey than the rest of New York City, has almost been a reluctant participant as a member of the consolidated New York City area, and indeed voted to secede from New York City in the 1990s.  However, the vote was non-binding and the issues of Staten Island were resolved.  Yet, even if the vote had carried some weight, I believe it would be hard for Staten Island to sever itself completely from New York City because of its connection through the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Staten Island Ferry.  It might be able to sever politically, but not necessarily culturally.

A bridge is a lifeline, an artery.  We have sayings that reflect how important bridges are.  We try to "build bridges" to span gulfs and bring us together with others on common ground.  We try not to "burn bridges" with friends, colleagues and those we care about.  In war, bridges are among the first primary targets, targeted to cut off routes and supplies to the enemy.  When consolidating newly conquered territories, the conquerors often build bridges to enable the consolidation to take place.

I remember the movie Escape From New York, in which Manhattan is a large penal colony and all the bridges have been mined to keep convicts on the island.  In I Am Legend, the Will Smith movie, as the contagion of the deadly virus spreads through Manhattan the military destroys the bridges in a futile attempt to keep the contagion on the island.  The main theme in both of these films is that without the bridges, the New York City as we know it ceases to exist as an entity.

With so many bridges that that connect New York City to itself - to its boroughs and neighborhoods and all that is great about the place - it is easy to appreciate the role of a bridge, no matter how small or how large, how young or how old, how complex or simple the design.  They allow us to access places not easily reached, and bring together disparate parts into unity.

Musical Interlude

I had hoped to find a song about bridges that matches this post.  But I couldn't.  A lot of songs have to do with building bridges or burning bridges.  Some have to do with jumping off bridges.  They really didn't feel right to me.  The song I kept coming back to was a simple song by Steve Young that The Eagles covered, Seven Bridges Road.  It may have nothing to do with the post, but I like it.

If you want to know more about the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

MTA: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge: A Brief History
Wikipedia: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Next up: Staten Island, New York


Blue Highways: White Salmon and Appleton, Washington

Unfolding the Map

Hey you doing, baby?  In this post William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) takes us on a little roadtrip into desire.  So why don't you go get yourself into something more comfortable, put on a little mood music, pour some wine, turn the lights down low and light some candles, and we'll do some exploration, if you know what I mean.  You know you want it.  If you need some visual aids to get excited about where we're going, why don't you get clicking on my map to get that spark?  And now, damn baby, you must be on fire because it's getting hot in here...

Book Quotes

"During lunch in White Salmon, I noticed the map showed a town up on the northern plateau almost in the shadow of Mount Adams called Liberty Bond.  No question about where to go next....

"I tried to get directions in Appleton, a fading place of three or four fading houses and a fading school...No one about...Then a sudden clatter of hooves and a long 'Hallooo!'  A horse whickered as a woman reined up at my window....

"'I'm looking for Liberty Bond.'

"She had long, black hair loose over her shoulders.  Muscular and pretty.  About thirty-five.  Very pretty.

"'It's gone.  Fallen down....All picked over and not a doorknob left....Afraid you're too late for that one.'

"'How about taking me home to the ranch?'

"She laughed. 'What've you got in mind?'  For a moment I saw a ranch-house parlor, low light through shades, the glow of whiskey in tumblers, a deep cleave and merge of thigh.  She smiled. 'Too late there too.'"

Blue Highways: Part 6, Chapter 7

Town of White Salmon. Photo by "Michelle" and posted at Click on photo to go to host site.White Salmon and Appleton, Washington

Poor LHM.  As we travel alongside him in the state of Washington, probably around the halfway point or just past halfway in his journey, one might wonder what was wrong with him if he had not gotten lonely for romantic companionship at some time.  We know from earlier passages in Blue Highways that he has left a marriage in Missouri after it went sour and that this trip has been, in part, a way to escape his situation.  It is also a journey to reconnect with himself and with the concept of America.  We also know that at times on the trip he has been desperately lonely.  Twice, at least, he has tried to contact his wife, whom he refers to as The Cherokee, and at various points along the earlier parts of his trip he hoped that she might try to contact him or leave a message for him in some way.  The only time he made some brief contact was when he was in Corvallis, Oregon and it left him feeling even more lonely when she asked to call him back instead of talking to him.

So should we be surprised when a siren on a horse, whose prettiness he takes pains to describe, stirs romantic and sexual longings within him?  Should we be surprised that after traveling, at this point probably around 7,000 miles, that he would hope for "a deep cleave and merge of thigh?"

I am writing this post about desire, because we all face it throughout our lives and we all succumb to it in one way or another.  Desire might be the unifying theme that is carried throughout cultures and throughout time in human experience.  We are surrounded by the objects of our desires daily, whether it's the attractive person walking by on the street that makes you look, the great looking car in the parking lot, the woman trying to get your attention or the man hitting on you in the bar, a beautiful piece of jewelry in the store window, or the song about someone else's desire that awakens your own longings.  Desire is ever-present and yet must be balanced like everything in life.  You may desire your friend's wife, or the guy that you run into at the copy machine every morning, but you make the decision to curb your desire in order to maintain social harmony.  You may desperately want that $1000 dress, or the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but you forego these temptations in order to feed yourself or your family.

We live and struggle with our desires daily.  Some are lucky enough to pour them out in creativity.  When you read a great novel, see a great work of art, watch a great performance, you are often seeing the power of desire channeled into something else of equally great beauty and value.  The drive of desire is the drive of life and connects us with all living things and to aspects of ourselves that we would otherwise only dimly notice.  The most successful human endeavors tap our minds and rechannel desire.  Religion is very good at this, often redirecting the desires of its most fervent adherents toward enlightenment, salvation, community, faith, discipline, and all the other things that religion offers.  It doesn't have to be religion - politics, art, business, and even leisure dip into the wellspring of desire.

Capitalism works as an economic system, and faces it's biggest problems, because it is based on desire.  People getting what they desire in exchange for their labor or their capital is at the heart of capitalism.  Desire causes people to work harder so that they can make more money and achieve what they desire - including snaring a mate to meet the more fundamental desires.  Capitalists attempt to make more money partly to get what they desire and attract those they desire.  Everyone working to get what they desire leads to a balance that Adam Smith called "the Invisible Hand."  Yet if the balance goes awry, and it becomes harder for many to achieve their desires and accumulation begins to favor a minority, then capitalism itself can be threatened.  Perceptions of such an imbalance is driving the current Occupy protests pitting the "99%" against the "1%".

In the end, though, desire is about connection, no matter how focused or abstract the desire is.  Why accumulate more things that you can't possibly use yourself?  Because you want them to create connections to others.  Why write, draw, paint, succeed in business, join a religion, or even just be a person of leisure?  So that you can reach out and touch others who will respond to your activities and also touch you.

This blog grew out of desire - a desire to reconnect with and know myself better, as well as a desire to see if any of what I have to share would connect with anyone else.  It has also helped me channel my activities into positive and life-giving activities rather than unhealthy activities that would touch into the dark sides of my desires.  There is a dark side to everyone's desires.  That dark side can take one down a path of pain, misery, obsession, guilt, and shame.  I have been there once or twice.  Such a road is the stuff that makes film noir's so uncomfortably enjoyable as they delve into the dark and seamy side of life.

There are also consequences to acting upon our desires, and we have to be ready for them.  I just saw a Twilight Zone episode, The Man in the Bottle, that very effectively showed what happens when we are able to get what we desire and the unexpected results that may occur.  What if LHM had been able to act upon his desire, if the pretty woman had been available, and had gone back to the ranch with her?  His trip might have hung in the balance.  He might have had to admit to her that he was just out for a quick romantic stop but no long-term relationship, and that may or may not have had consequences.  Or maybe, he might have been delayed in restarting his trip.  Or he might not have finished it at all.  There may have been no Blue Highways.  Ultimately, LHM took the energy of his desires seething inside him and produced his book.  In doing so, he reached a connection with many of us.

Musical Interlude

Speaking of consequences of desire, there are a lot of mythological stories and warnings about what happens to men overcome with desire.  The Greeks embodied the essence of desire into the Sirens, a group of mythological women with a sweet yet sad song that drove men to anguish.  Mariners were induced to shipwrecks by the Sirens voices and survivors would later die of thirst and starvation listening to the exclusion of all else.  In The Odyssey, Odysseus tells his men to stop their ears and lash him to the mast of the ship so that he could hear the Sirens' song.  They were to keep him bound to the mast no matter how much he begged until the ship was safely away.  In the 2000 movie O Brother Where Art Thou, the Coen Brothers adaptation of The Odyssey set in Mississippi, Ulysses, Pete and Delmar run across some sirens at a river that end in consequences imagined (at first) and real (later).  That will be your musical interlude for today - the "sireens" of O Brother Where Art Thou.  And in case any male readers are overcome with desire for the ladies who play the sirens, the actresses are Mia Tate, Musetta Vander, and Christy Taylor.

If you want to know more about White Salmon and Appleton White Salmon
White Salmon Enterprise (newspaper)
Wikipedia: Appleton
Wikipedia: White Salmon

Next up:  Pitt, Washington