We left early Friday afternoon after I finally finished up and e-filed our taxes. I was determined to not come back to that task waiting for me! We packed quickly and headed once more across West Virginia, our destination this time the gorgeous and homey Brazen Head Irish Pub and Inn in the mountains of Randolph county. Of course, I could not make the trip without stopping at a junk shop along the way, and so this rode with us into the mountains:
I wasn't sure what to expect of this trip. I had heard from a friend that a group of folksingers from the Washington DC area gathered each spring at the inn to sing for a whole weekend. I thought it sounded like heaven, but each year it seemed we had a conflict and could not attend. This year, however, the stars combined to make it possible and I grabbed the opportunity even though it meant yet another long trip this week. Our friend Jeff met us when we arrived and we quickly met several other attendees. Then we settled in for an evening of music.
And such music it was! Songs from the Civil War, silly children's songs, plaintive love ballads, country songs, parodies, and more. Everyone sang, and everyone sang along with everyone else. This group could pick up a melody and chorus faster than ice melting in boiling water! I loved every minute. I had to laugh when someone sang the country song "Crystal Chandelier"--little did they know there was an actual chandelier right outside in the parking lot! I gave up and went to bed around 1:00 am, and regretted it as soon as I was under the covers because I could hear the most amazing yodeling downstairs. Too tired to dress again and go back down, I laid there and listened, and finally drifted off.
You might remember my discussion of ramps in these posts.
I heard stories, too--the story of a mother who witnessed her son being taken to jail during the Occupy movement, the story of a tragic death, stories of World War II from a Jewish man who had been a child in London at the time of the war, stories behind songs and about singers. I believe that in order to be a good storyteller, I must first be a good listener, and I will remember the faces and the voices telling me stories I will not forget.
That evening was, guess what? More singing! I heard so many songs that I have never heard before, sung by people who all shared a love for the old songs. I was invited to tell a ghost story, so I told the story of Eaton's tunnel and then the one about Ikie's tomb. I went to bed filled with music and voices.
We woke this morning to a heavy frost coating the ground and the smell of sausage, coffee and blueberry pancakes wafting up from the kitchen. Will Fanning was the chef for the weekend--he is also the owner of the Brazen Head and along with his wife Jill ensured we had everything we needed for a comfortable stay, and kept things running smoothly for us all weekend.
Sharp's Country Store, not far from the inn. During that visit the owner, Tom Shipley, told us some of his family's story, and also told me a strange tale about the death of a young woman in the family. The story remained with me, and I wanted to go back and hear more. Larry stopped the day before to see if Tom would have time for a visit, and was assured that we'd be more than welcome. So we once again stopped to see Tom, and he told me the story with more detail about the people involved that included a lot of his family history.
When we came down from the mountain I realized what a gift I had been given--not just the story, but Tom's willingness to share his family with us. Such generosity is rare, and I treasure it.
And then, finally, we were home once again, greeted by happy pets, nodding flowers and the comfort of familiar things. We have rested this evening, but tomorrow we will begin getting ready for our visitors who will arrive on Friday, for next weekend's performance at the Parkersburg Celtic Festival with my friend, storyteller Lorna Czarnota, and for the house concert for her that we are giving here next Sunday. Life is never dull, and I am glad of it.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.