I went to a wedding in Maryland this weekend; Kate’s friend Karen Breame, who we both went to Westtown School with (though in different years), was marrying a guy who has a radio morning show in Maryland. There was an Episcopal service (Kate thinks that it’s a shame that churches have to be really explicit with their directions to the congregation — “sit,” “stand,” “please rise,” “please turn to page 332 in the red book of common prayer — that’s the red book, page 3-3-2.”) Anyhow, there was a reception and dancing afterwards, and the friends of the groom all work in radio, so they all were taking turns on the microphone and using their radio voices. And the removal-of-the-bride’s-garter thingy was embellished with the discovery of lots of stuff under the bride’s dress — the head of a Toy Story Woody doll, a set of car keys, a box of macaroni and cheese.
I realized that we were near the Appalachian Trail, so Kate and I drove a few miles out of our way on the way back to Greenbrier State Park, so that we could hike on the trail for 100 yards. Partly, I kind of liked the self-conscious foolishness of walking through the snow for two minutes in Manhattan clothes, taking a picture, getting back in the car, and declaring loudly “I hiked the Appalachian Trail today!” Mostly, though, I find the concept of the trail amazing. A small trailhead sign by the side of the road and a short blue-blazed feeder trail lead to a practically unpublicized path TWO THOUSAND MILES LONG. As a teenager, I often walked the six miles or so from Devon, PA to Paoli; I once dreamed that I stumbled on a single-seat chairlift bobbing along that route through the woods just out of sight of the road. In my dream, I was amazed that this wonderful thing existed — not exactly secret, but just out of sight, waiting to be stumbled on. The AT seems the same way. Anywhere you go on the East coast, this tremendous footpath is running just on the other side of someone’s backyard, or following a track through the woods behind a completely featureless industrial park. It’s magical to me.