There are stretches of Kentucky roads, closer to the interstates than you might imagine, where at night you can feel the spirits of the place crowd close, lean and hungry, where it’s easy to lean forward, press the accelerator, and surge forward into the dark with them. Even in many of the towns, the buildings rest uneasily atop the land, like they are on the verge of tipping over or being eaten up.
There is a hillside park in Reno, where a quick hop over a low stone wall will carry you into the mountains. Though cars loop along the curving highway below, naked and pressed into the crevice of a great stone, you can stare into the sky until the city lights dim and dim stars shone. Dry, cool desert air, sometimes lit by distant fires along the mountainside.
Even upon this piedmont earth, where the cities can press close, the wilderness is still near. Spirits from near and far wind their way through workings born of leaf, branch, flower, berry, root, or nut of magnolia, hickory, oak, holly, linden, ash, pine, cedar, juniper, crepe myrtle; bone of deer, possum, racoon, turtle, frog; red clay and fertile dirt, the stones they expose to the sun; clover and wild ginger; feathers of crow, vulture, robin, bluejay; snail shell and cicada husk, spider and centipede; colorful mushrooms and lichen; tobacco and candlelight.