What Does Brown Mean to You? Road-Tripping In Brown Sign Nation

Road Trip IV: Days 17-19, Arkansas to Asheville, NC

On these road trips, the scenery often inspires my songwriting. After California I wrote “Redwood Lullaby,” and in the desert, a song called “Starlight Midnight,” about happy solitude. Now that I’m back in the Blue Ridge, just a half-day’s drive from where I grew up, you’d think I’d be inundated with song ideas, right? I mean, first thing The Mate and I did, after gassing up Red Rover, was to go hiking through those rhododendron tunnels I remember so well, up to where the dark grey crags opened to a view of wave after wave of mountains. Beautiful.

But no song. Why? Because I can’t help but feel they’ve all been written. These mountains are so old, and the roots music mine is based on came from exactly here. Rockytop. My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Foggy Mountain Breakdown. In the Pines. Any of Loretta Lynn’s songs. Or Dolly Parton’s (whose atrocious Dollywood we had to negotiate on our way in from Tennessee–thanks a lot, Dolly, I know you meant well). The music world just doesn’t need another mountain song from yours truly.


(OK, no it does not look like this in February. Can you blame me for using Mary Anne Clark’s photo from Flikr Creative Commons?)

So I’d rather talk about Brown Sign Nation. Are you a member?

You know what I mean. Brown signs mean PARKS. Whether a grand ol’ federal one like Great Smoky Mountains, where we hiked four different trails, a state one like Tennessee’s Natchez Trace, where I biked till I couldn’t feel my fingers, or even a nice lil’ county park like the one we left our car in in Santa Barbara while taking one last ride with Wing Son Two–Brown Sign Nation means safety for our vehicle, scenery & recreation for us. Brown means other healthy people all out smiling at each other, or little kids playing, or no one at all, just herons. Brown means a community putting its money where its heart is–or its eyes, or legs, or…dare I say soul? A country that invests in parks is my kinda country. Ditto city. Ditto any sized community.


When our kids were little we traveled from playground to playground. Today The Mate and I do the same thing, only instead of swingsets and seesaws, we look for bike paths and hiking trails. Either way, we are happy once we see that brown.

Can you relate? Are you a member of our BSN? Where are your favorite parks? What does Brown mean to you?

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