Thursday, June 19, 2008

Natural-Born Storytellers

A few weeks ago we had some special guests visit us at our farm. I've known Jason for some years now through the WV Storytelling Guild, and I had met his brother Matthew once, but only briefly. I had not had the chance to meet Shirley, Matt's wife.
Two liars, one young and one old, share a swing and a tale.

Jason emailed to say they were traveling in the area, visiting places of reported ghost sightings. Now you know when someone tells you that, you're just naturally intrigued! I invited them to make our place a stop on their journey.

Matt and Jason grew up in Pendleton County, West Virginia, in one of the state's most remote areas. Their lives are measured by the great flood of 1985 that decimated so many communities in eastern West Virginia. For Jason and Matt, all events are referenced as being "before the flood" or "after the flood."

Being raised in such a remote area, the brothers have a cast of colorful family members that star in the many stories they tell. These guys don't bill themselves as professional storytellers, but they certainly could rival the best with their tales of life in the back country. in the photo above, Matt is telling a story about "Uncle Fudgy." I can't retell it, you just had to be there.

Shirley's upbringing in southern West Virginia provided her with her own store of stories to tell. Passionate about mountaintop removal, Shirley's book, Bringing Down The Mountains, was published last fall by WVU Press. Just knowing that she wrote that book made me love her from the start. But her wit and sly humor completely endeared her to me. It was icing on the cake to learn that she also sings ballads. We didn't sing on this visit, but I'm looking forward to the next.

What impressed me so much with these young people is that all three came from a background with few resources. But their intelligence and determination propelled them through degree programs at West Virginia University.

Still country at heart, they bring the depth and breadth of education to understanding who they are and where they come from. They love their home, are committed to their state, and are eloquent and entertaining when they share their journey in fascinating, entertaining and thoughtful conversation and writing.

To see a little of Jason and Matt's homeplace, visit Jason's blog. And for information on West Virginia ghosts and paranormal occurrences, Jason's website, West Virginia Spectral Heritage, is outstanding.

I can't wait to have them visit again. And I owe them a jar of jam--I forgot to give it to them when they were here. Shame on me!


Mrs. Hillbilly said...

Fabulous! I love being turned on to storytellers and I love ghost stories on principle. Good work! :).

City Mouse said...

Of course, I love ghost stories - Wish I was nearer your area so I could hear some of these folks! Looks like Summer is really shaping up at your place too! Is that a hosta or a calla in the front of the top pic?

Matthew Burns said...

I feel famous now that i've made it to Granny's blog!

Famous like Jane Goodall felt when she made it in a Far Side cartoon!!

Our visit at Granny Sue's farm was amazing and we look forward to our next invite to visit..hint hint!! got my creative juices flowing so I have a bunch more stories to tell!!!

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