Shade for sale?

We worked in the lower pasture getting fence posts and yellow jacket stings (two, that is, for me), then met William in Dobson at the Mexican restaurant called Tlaquepaque. It’s bleakly set between the highway and that giant chicken processing plant, Wayne, where a few hundred cars of the Puerto Rican workers broil in the sun to molten temperatures. The cracked asphalt lot and gravel that serve as a giant stove top to the Tlaquepaque building are nearly at that level of heat, so Alyssa parks the Yaris in a lonely strip of tree shade 50 feet in back. Wm Avis & AlyssaWalking across that waste, holding Avis’s either hand, they make such an iconic picture of the Human Race starting anew, I take a shot of them on my iPhone. That shade for the car is so valuable, yet nobody is making money off of it. I wish I could figure out how to do that, like the person who first figured out that millions of people would pay $1 or more for plain old drinking water in plastic bottles. I’d be a gazillionaire, and save the world.

Shopping at Food Lion in Dobson the day before, I parked next door in a back slot at McDonald’s that was covered in tree shade, mildly illicit for a Food Lion shopper – but free.

There are but two new missions left on this God-given planet in my lifetime, and the lifetimes of my children and my students. One is to make adjustments for the rising temperatures, rising seas, and preposterous storms – adjustments for ourselves individually, and for whole groaning populations. (Here on these old weathered steps to a ramshackle house off the Blue Ridge Parkway, coffee in hand, I’m making my adjustments 2000 feet above the Carolina foothills, which are themselves 1000 feet above the the Outer Banks in the path of Dorian. Ominous clouds drift overhead from that directions.)

Mission Two is to begin shifting our energy sources from hydrocarbons to solar and wind, and to engineer our cities, economies and appliances for greater and greater efficiency. (Fortunately, the engineering part is well underway. The part about getting off fossil fuels needs a huge goose, something like a Pearl Harbor that gets something like a carbon tax passed in a jiffy.) Mission Two won’t get us to a leveling off of CO2 and climate change for 40 years, but still, it’s our mission.

If I could figure out how to corner a market on shade – to franchise it as Dixie Shade, or “Beyond a Shadow” – I’d address both missions at once, and make a killing.

About Doug Cumming

Writer, W&L journalism professor emeritus
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