Off the road again. Like a van with blowouts, I’ve pulled off the highway.

I have to say there’s nothing like returning from a long road trip to the electric glow of red buds in full bloom. If my long road trip the last couple of weeks was an exercise in delight, the return home was a breath of pure joy.

You can travel the world and take in many glorious sights, but nothing beats the early explosion of plant life in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. From the red buds to the sarvis and willow blossoms to the faint haze of emerging leaves, the colors of spring are letting us know winter is over.

Yes, one never knows when an April snow will crash the party, but the flakes of April are stragglers winter ran off and left a few weeks back. We know it’ll be over 70 the next day. We’ll hardly even remember it until next year about this time.

“Remember that foot of snow we got last April? No? Well it really did happen ... once ... maybe the year before ...”

It’s like the rising temperatures and flowering hills cloud our memories. All we can conjure are the pleasantries of spring, not the cold and slides of endless January days. We all know winter is a hazy illusion, while spring is a vivid revelation.

It’s a pretty good time to welcome guests, and according to the piles of newspapers waiting at my door, Hillbilly Days are here again. Some of the folks I passed up north will be down for a visit.

The first buds were barely popping out up in that area, so they won’t quite be ready for the abundance of color they’ll run into here. I advise shades for our guests. The many colors of Hillbilly Days, whether vegetable or character, can be overwhelming. Just remember, you probably aren’t hallucinating, unless you’ve emptied a couple of mason jars.

If that’s the case, you need to get off the little Shriner Train. Folks have been known to lose track and stay on it for days waiting for it to pull up in front of Jerry’s.

Jerry’s isn’t Jerry’s anymore. It’s a parking lot ... which is the kind of thing our visitors might love. Parking is the number one issue of Hillbilly Days since the Pinson got torn down and no replacement location has emerged for extreme public canoodling.

Canoodling, for you northerners, is the family-friendly newspaper term for all encounters sexual, although I’m not sure the word “sexual” will get by our family-friendly software. Maybe I should use the word “carnal, “which is close to carnival and isn’t that what Hillbilly Days are all about?

But legendary encounters aside, it isn’t Hillbilly Days if it isn’t raining and there’s a 77 percent chance of wetness on Friday. There’s not much chance of rain on Saturday, though. I’m all for moving the parade to Friday to keep with tradition.

However it works out, keep an eye out for me this year. I’ll be the guy sitting on the river bank contemplating the red buds about 25 miles down the road.

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