Monday, November 29, 2010

Picking apples doesn't pay...

First an update on my website; at another author's request I have added a page to my website that gives details on some of the photos in the book, some photos that did not make it into the book and explanations about the meaning of the front and back covers.  Pictures and stories will be added over time as I gather them together, this is the link to that page.

And on to other musings... As much as I love New Orleans, sometimes, as always, I am ready to get in the car and start driving.  I threatened an acquaintence heading to Asheville, North Carolina that I would hide in the trunk of his car if he wouldn't let  me ride legitimately in the front seat.  I'm still here.  The longing for Asheville never goes away.  I miss the mountains and the smell of the misty green air, the sound of the rushing rivers over stone beds and the beautiful hardwoods that are losing their leaves to the mountain breeze.  Asheville!  Pack Square with the vagabonds, hippies, musicians and gypsies.  The little shops and vegetarian restauraunts (I'm not a vegetarian, but I love the people who are), the tiny flea markets crammed into old buildings, the tobacco shop that sells newspapers on the corner... Asheville.  There is no end to the love I have for that place. 

I also lived homeless in Asheville, but I was not alone that time and my van didn't break down on me.  I remember we were living in Pisgah National Forest in October, very cold.  We would take showers in the stream while there was still snow on the ground.  I know why hippies smell, it would have been better to deal with stench than bathe in that icy water.. but we did.  I was broke in Asheville too, I've spent most of my life barely getting by.  One day in Pack Square we were talking to this old guy who loved to drink, I don't remember his name, but he was one of those alcolholics you could spot a mile away because his nose was so red.  He told us there was BIG money to be made in Hendersonville picking apples.  Although this seemed too good to be true, it was better than the alternative.  Begging for change and trying to find a job without an address or a phone number.  We drove the old man out to Hendersonville bright and early the next day, prepared to  make some BIG money.  When we got there the farmer was wondering who the hell we all were.  An old drunk man, a pierced up pin cushion girl and a little short brown girl.  I'm sure we looked like a motley crew to that country farmer.  There were at least 15 to 20 big, big crates.  I mean, you could have put a Volkswagen bug and a half inside of one.  The farmer told us that we had to fill the bins. 

That day I learned that, when it comes to apples, there are peelers and juicers.  It's pretty obvious, peelers are the ones we get in the store to eat and juicers are worth less and go to the juicing factories.  We were picking juicers that day, so you could at least toss them into those bins and bruise them and it didn't matter.  I learned which ladders are used for apple picking and how fun it is to throw one into a tree with a big sack slung around your shoulder while bees are buzzing into your bag and around your head from five or six feet off the ground on a wiggly, bouncing, wooden ladder. 

We might have filled one bin in the 8 hours that we were there, the old hobo looking guy spilled beer all inside my Volkswagen, which was also  my house, and in the end we made $20 that we had to divide up among three people.  I've definately had better work days.  I never picked apples again, but I did get some interesting pictures that day (soon to be added to my website for your enjoyment) and I did write about it in my new book.  It's the very first poem, the self titled, I Wandered from New Orleans.  It's never fun being homeless, but it's less scary when you aren't all alone and your car doesn't break down.  Plus we lived in the National Forest, and even though it was bitter cold, it was a lot safer than parking on the streets in Atlanta and far more peaceful and beautiful. 
I do miss Asheville, and I miss Pack Square; I even miss Atlanta, but the last time I visited Atlanta I had enough  money to get a slice of Pizza and a drink from Fellini's, which was just spectacular.  That pizza is great even when you aren't starving to death!  I highly recommend it.

If you want to read about picking apples, Asheville, the mountains or even Atlanta, you can get a signed copy of I Wandered from New Orleans at my website or purchase the eBook and Kindle editions at  If you're hungry for a slice of Fellini's Pizza, I am too!


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