Saturday, June 21, 2014

From Morning to Evening, What a Fine Birthday

Today started early--I was on the porch at dawn, hoping to see that moment when, as my friend Dianne Hackworth reminded me, the sun stands still. But fog and clouds hid old Sol from my view--and that was all right because the rain last night was most welcome.

We left at 8am to go back to the West Virginia Folk Festival for a second day in the Oral Traditions Tent. We were there yesterday for my performance time in the tent. It was hot, hot, hot, but the audience was pretty cool and into the stories, poems and ballads I shared.

For the past few years, the festival has occurred on my birthday weekend so I am usually there and not having cake and ice cream at home. It's well worth it to hear such good stories and poems and to see people I may not see again for months, and to be surrounded by music and crafts in a small community nestled in the West Virginia hills (and home to the state song by that name).

 Two friends collaborated to surprise me this year with not just a cake, but a cake topped with a fizzing sparkler! What fun that was! I am still smiling from the surprise and laughter of that moment.

The cake was mighty good too. We shared pieces with everyone in the tent, a sweet treat on the first day of summer.

A highlight this year was Kirk Judd's presentation of poems in his new book, My People Was Music. Kirk doesn't read his poetry, he performs it, and his poems tell stories--stories of mountain hikes, of heritage and music, of friends and family and life in these hills. Not all easy words, but all worth hearing. The tent was full to capacity and beyond for his performance. Afterwards we visited with a fiddle player from Cincinnati who told me a few ghost stories. He was curious about the story behind the name of the small community of Burnt House, so I told him the story of the murders and the supposed appearance of the girl who burned to death in a fire there (a story you can find on my CD, Beyond the Grave).

I visited the historic Holt House to see a fellow Two Lane Livin' writer, Karen Pennebaker. While there I toured the house--built in 1901, the same time period as the house I grew up in, it had much of the same woodwork and trim. I especially loved the kitchen, though, with its "border" of aprons. What a fun way to display them.

I had another reason for my visit to Holt House--lemon ammonia cookies! They are delicious, and I look for them every year. This is NOT household ammonia, this is baking ammonia, and old time ingredient used to make the cookies rise. This link will take you to a recipe that looks and sounds much like the cookies I bought today.

The rain held off almost all day, but late in the afternoon the skies opened and dumped torrents of rain. Susan Sheppard of Parkersburg forged ahead with her reading, even though water was pooling at her feet.

Judi Tarowsky followed, and her husband of 44 years provided shelter for his wife. That's love, friends. (And believe me, both of them were a lot happier about it than the photo appears--what happens when I grab a quick snap with my phone sometimes.) I have to give props to Judi and Susan--real troupers, both of them, and great storytellers.

Now I am home and packing again for a week away at the fantastic Allegheny Echoes Music and Creative Writing Workshops (with a little break to do a program for the library in Lost Creek, WV). I have done some of my best writing at Echoes, and am looking forward to a week of evenings in a cabin on the banks of the Greenbrier River and days working with other writers to craft new work.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Belated birthday greetings,Cousin.

Nance said...

you (and I) are busy with life. Keep up the good work (and blog posts :)

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