Day 532: Man o’ War

When Laetitia walked into the kitchen at the Emerald Victorian, she was surprised to find a packet of coffee with a totally unfamiliar name, “Kopi Luwak.” After she started the pot brewing, she looked it up on the Internet and found that it’s a rare specialty coffee from Indonesia with an unusual flavor derived from passage through the digestive tract of the palm civet. Though this Asian mammal has the physical characteristics of a carnivore, it eats mostly fruit, including wild coffee berries. The fleshy part of the coffee berry is digested, and the coffee beans pass through and remain in the scat. These are collected from the ground, cleaned, roasted, and sold. Laetitia found its distinct taste enjoyable, but thought she would not make a habit of drinking it, since it often sells for several hundred dollars per pound.

Laetitia scanned the materials in the library looking for inspiration for her next tour. The first thing that caught her eye was a book with the title Man o’ War. The phrase can mean a number of things: a famous racehorse, a relative of the jellyfish, or a wooden warship. This book happened to be about the early twentieth-century thoroughbred that won twenty of the twenty-one races he entered during his sixteen-month career. What interested Laetitia, though, was that during her tours of West Virginia during the previous few days, she had noticed a town named Man and one named War. Laetitia decided that she would go to War first and then to Man.

Leaving Welch, West Virginia, Laetitia took her group to Berwind Lake Park for a morning hike and some bird watching and afterward went to lunch in War. It’s a town of around 800 residents nestled among wooded hills along War Creek, from which its name is derived. The creek’s name comes from a battle between Native American tribes that took place near its source. Laetitia’s group did a short walkabout in War after lunch and then headed for Panther Wildlife Management Area for another hike and to view some wildlife before heading north to Man.

The town name Man was apparently derived from the last syllable of its founder’s name, Ulysses Hinchman. During her pre-dinner sojourn at a bar filled with happy-hour revelers, Laetitia was amused when a local fellow came in asking for directions and got a lot of flack from the rowdy crowd. Finally a man who lived in the town that was the destination went to his car and got a map so he could point out the way to the local fellow. Laetitia distilled the incident into a limerick.

When a fellow from Man in a bar
Tells the crowd he’d like to go to War
Most say, “Sign up, you sap,”
But one with a map
Shows the way for he’s a man o’ War.