Friday, October 08, 2010

Jonesborough Friday

Friday started as I shared breakfast with folks in the Retreat Center.  We talked at length about who we wanted to see and hear.  The drive to town was slow and filled with anticipation as I pushed through heavy mists and seemed to come out of the past and into today.  I parked in the lawn of a cool gentleman and we talked for a while.  I crossed the tracks and walked through Jonesborough, snuck in a few shops and made my way to the tent where Corrine Stavish and Kathryn Windham were to tell.  I was not disappointed in making this my first tent of the morning.  Both were funny and caught the audience by the heart.

I always make the tent where Kathryn Windham will tell my first.  I don't know how many time I will get to hear her, so I make it my mission to hear her ASAP.  The neat thing is I renewed my membership to NSN that day and received a CD of tellers from past Festivals.  It had an earlier version of her Scooter story on
it.  I listened to it as I traveled home and the contrast was interesting.  The early one was awesome, the current one she told on Friday was just as lovely.  Different, from an older Katherine, but just as good.

Several years ago Chuck Larkin told me I spent too much time in the tents.  I followed his advice over the weekend, shared that advice with my friend Ellouise and heard those I wanted to hear and spent time on a few benches, visiting with friends, meeting folks, greeting folks, making contacts.  I had 6 walking sticks
I made and shared them as gifts with several friends along the way.  In some ways those are my favorite memories.

Kevin Kling was terrific, Bil Lepp... gotta love a tall teller!  I heard a woman talking on the phone about Bil.  She told someone they would like him, she wasn't sure if he was a stand up comedian or a storyteller.  I wanted to tell her a comedian doesn't tell stories.  Bil is a storyteller.

Carmen Deedy, Andy Offutt Irwin, Michael Parent (who looked thin) and my sartorial hero and role model - Donald Davis.  Oh my, what a story about his Mama and pimento cheese.  I will always think of him when I have a pimento cheese sandwich. (wait, was this when I heard him Friday or Saturday?)

The exchange place was electric! Nothando Zulu told a Langston Hughes story that just took hold of me and wrung me out.  Whew!

Our own Jeff Gere, what can I say?  I thought I was animated!  Give me a double gallon dose of habanero sauce with itching powder as a chaser and I might be able to match him.  His story of a homeless woman who stopped the world... and a bulldozer kicked backside.

Afterward I accepted a gracious invite from Megan Hicks, met some great folks, talked about the Viet Nam draft and being of a "certain age".  I was able to visit with Mary Hamilton and Charles Wright around the table also.  It was over way too soon.

I made my way back, down the quiet roads with no sound but the engine, re-hearing and remembering the day and the stories.  I rode with windows down, my hair that is too long blew in the wind as I remembered the conversations around Megan's table about our youth.  I felt my hair go every way in the world,
remembered when my hair was longer, darker, almost black... stories and friends made me forget today and for a moment, just a moment I knew I and my stories and the stories I heard that night would live forever.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Jonesborough & The National Storytelling Festival

I left for Jonesborough early Thursday morning.  I was up at 4:30 am and getting
ready since I was too excited to sleep.  It had been 3 years since I had been to
the Festival and I was ready.  The trip is always cool for me since my Hollen/Holland family
moved into that area in about the 1760s.  As I drive around the area I recognize
towns and names that have importance to our history and wish I knew those
ancestral stories better.

I arrived, registered and went to the little Methodist camp I stayed at, settled
in and enjoyed the mountains for a while.  I could have stayed and listened to
the little creek behind my cabin forever.  The tall pines cast a dampness all
round and it seems the mist never rises in the holler where I was.

Back in town I wandered a little, looking at the preparations, thinking already
about who I wanted to hear, who I hoped to see, friends I wanted to run into.  I
stopped and looked at Doc McConnell's Medicine Show wagon (not only nostalgia,
but also to get ideas to build myself one) and was reminded that his family were
to donate it to the ISC on Saturday morning.  I made a note to be there.

It started to rain a little and i decided to find a place to eat... found a
Chinese buffet and snuck in.  Before I finished a storyteller friend, Eric also wandered in and
we sat and shared a meal and talked of many things.  Eric and I live maybe 12-15
miles from each other here and it is cool he was the first person I connected
with. We talked of many things, shared our opinions and enjoyed the conversation.

Thursday night rain sent me back to the camp and into that little holler.  I sat
on the small porch with my harmonica and played a while, listening to the
rambling creek, the drips of rain that eventually found their way through the
thick pine canopy and the wind that danced with the trees.

I sat and thought of staying with Chuck Larkin in that very cabin several years
ago - his last Festival.  I thought of the tellers we have lost over the past
few years and the legacy they left.  For a while I felt so very old (at 57) as I
thought of friends that have gone. 

Enough of the melancholy, I thought and went to bed.  Life is grand, happiness
is like moonshine and I am in Jonesborough!  Excited about the morning, about
seeing friends, hearing stories... starting a new adventure in my life!