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2007-11-09 - 1:19 a.m.

I visited my parents' yesterday and stayed the night. The city is a blanket, of noises, bars, parties, voices, sirens, schedules.

My parents live on the side of Dans Mountain. I grew up there, living there from fourth grade until the end of high school, and in college spent most summers and winter breaks there. I thought I knew everything about it.

But, last night, I went out to my truck, to get my cell phone, and looked up. The sky took my breath away. I saw a thousand stars. Uncountable numbers of stars: bright ones, stars in lines, blinking, twittering, nervous ones, the airplanes for once playing second fiddle. And I kept looking and kept looking and I saw a shooting star: a piece of the sky breaking up into countless particles. Then I saw another one, and it was all a show for me.

Today, before I raked the leaves in the front yard, I took the dog for a walk out back, on the side of Dans Mountain. I grew up back there, too, just as much as I grew up in the bedroom and in the living room with the big TV and in the basement with the stereo and the books I'd stolen from libraries. Chloe's two years old and jumpy. She peed and it took me a while, but I got her to sit for a few seconds, her tail swishing the brown and dry leaves. And I looked up again and everywhere, in literally all directions, more leaves fell. They fell from the tops of the trees, where there was a breeze, and those leaves came down like snowflakes, brushing up against the branches and the leaves still on those branches. Not snowflakes, but raindrops. The sky was blue--there were no clouds--but the side of the mountain was being rained upon. The falling leaves sounded just like a light rain. The city is a blanket.

Leaving my parents' house, I drove north on 220, toward Cumberland, and coming the other way was a big truck, state troopers driving slow in front and behind. The truck was hauling two giant white blades. I'd read the news stories. They were for giant wind turbines, bound for Garrett County, the high, cold, beautiful alpine part of Maryland that is the farthest west you can go in the state before you get to West Virginia and even prettier mountains. The wind turbines are controversial. They provide clean energy, but some Republicans think they are ugly and needlessly progressive and some Democrats worry they'll kill bats. I sent my dad, a reporter, a text message telling him I saw the blades getting hauled. I thought he'd find that interesting. He wrote a text message back that said, "COOL DON'T TEXT MESSAGE WHILE DRIVING."

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