The alarm went off at 7:00 am and I hit the floor. Where was I going? Back to the West Virginia State Folk Festival in Glenville, about an hour and a half from home. I'd been there yesterday to tell stories, then drove home because I had so much to do. This morning I was out the door early and on the road back to Glenville.
An hour and a half drive might seem like a distance, but in reality Glenville is only about 60 miles from my home. The road however, is two-lane and twists over steep hills and 45 mph is about the speed I could expect to make. The ridgetops were shrouded in fog blankets and the air was cool and clean after yesterday's rain (which did not, unfortunately make it to my place).
In Glenville, I went directly to the Oral Traditions Tent. I knew my friend, poet Kirk Judd, was up first this morning. He and I were the only ones in the tent at his start time so we just talked, about poetry, about the festival, about writing, about life. Then a few others showed up and Kirk began his set. He called up ghosts: the spirits of two great West Virginia poets who passed on this year joined us as Kirk offered a tribute to their memory.
The festival parade began and we watched a parade of ladies dressed in old-time dresses, antique cars, floats and horses pass by. Then it was my turn. This time I read my poems, moving from weather lore to gardens to grief and coal and home. Judi Tarowsky followed me with lovely deep stories of a steel mill town and a family reunion. Next was Becky Baldwin, sharing family memories of the Miners March and the coal mine wars of the 1930's.
We sat and talked afterward, about the miner's war (the only time we dropped bombs on our own people) and the feud (in West Virginia, that can only mean the Hatfields and McCoys). A young tattooed and pierced couple joined us, she in the last days of her first pregnancy. We spoke of omens, signs, witchery, ghosts, dreams and midwives. We told of strange happenings in our families, our communities, and to ourselves. We listened. In the doorways and on the street, banjos, fiddles, hammered dulcimers and guitars played as jam sessions struck up. I took no pictures; I was too involved to step outside into the photographer's role.
It was time for me to leave, though I was loathe to go. I knew the music and dancing would continue into the wee hours of morning. But I needed to go home, unpack and re-pack for next week's adventure. I needed to wash clothes, water my gardens, pay bills and catch up on email because next week I will have little or no access to the internet.
I drove back across the hills, slowly this time remembering the voices, the words, the stories, the faces, the music.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.