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A redbud beside a pawn shop

A friend had come back from a road trip:
“Stupid churches and sixty feet tall billboards advertising everything from root canals to divorce.” He said, “When everything is the same what’s the point of going anywhere?”

He could have been describing US 64, which goes east-west across North Carolina where once brick textile mills worked three shifts. Now the mills are dark, but the lights are on at the Quik-Lube, Mcdonald’s, and Dollar General.

Just as vigorous as the sprouting fast food joints is another thing common to North Carolina: redbud trees. The redbud’s pink blush appears in eastern North Carolina in March and follows springtime across the state until May. Its seeds have wings, perfect for being drafted along US 64 behind eighteen-wheelers. It roots almost anywhere.

On a recent spring morning, I noticed a redbud blooming beside the Silver Dollar Gun and Pawn on US 64 near Asheboro, its roots growing in a cracked parking lot. It reminded me of my friend’s lament and what Leonard Cohen sang:

There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in