Gap Creek, and novels like it — Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier comes to mind — These books show us how to live a life which we have forgotten somehow, but which the essence of us craves yet.
We find ourselves at the center of these stories, learning to cure hams and fix a wheel, to render lard, and to make love even in the ice cold with no heat but that which we can muster from our bodies.
These books link us to a world so far gone by now as to have already become mythical, and yet it has only been a hundred years since the Gap, whereas our usual mythologies originated before the written work, thousands of years ago.
In reading Gap Creek, we find ourselves connected with this past again, and like some great continental recidivism within, the world and all its parts refocus suddenly. We see clearly now. We turn away from the cell phone ringing, or the noise of the television for a moment, and we see how we are to live.
With this new millennium upon us, I feel, as Julie and Hank must have felt leaving to Gap; that I've been given new life somehow, some of it good and some bad, but life at least; the hardships of a few years behind me and the challenge of making it over that next mountain, but the wind in my lungs and the cold clean air above me, saying this way or that way, and guiding me. For a while anyhow, Gap Creek, and Julie's great strength, have served as my compass.
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