I am a bad blogger.  There, I said it.  I know I’m supposed to be dedicated.  Committed.  Consistent.  But I have one problem.

I like to be away from my computer—living life rather than just writing about it. 

And, let me tell you, I have been living life this week.  I have been among my people.

Rob and l left last Saturday for a week at the John C. Campbell Folk School.  This is Rob’s third trip and my second, and it gets better every time we go.  I could live at that place.  Truly, I could.  I know that this seems impossible to those of you who know me and my whole “rooted in a place” philosophy, but I might consider repotting myself in Brasstown soil.

The garden at JCC Folk School

First, there is the atmosphere.  The mountains of western North Carolina.  Those blue, blue mountains.  My life’s blood.  It’s small, it’s secluded, it’s off the beaten path and cell phones are sketchy.  Yes.

MY mountains

Then, there are the people.  I have yet to meet an unfriendly person at the Folk School.  Unusual maybe—quirky, unconventional even—but all very friendly.  And everyone is so supportive and encouraging.  There’s a sense that no matter what you might throw out in dinner conversation, folks would just smile and very sincerely say, “Really?  How interesting.  Tell me more about that.”  There’s a genuine interest in ALL people and a sincerity that I find so refreshing.  It’s the attitude that so many wanna-be enlightened and inclusive people espouse but so rarely demonstrate.  *You know my theory on bumper stickers, right?

The food is amazing, and if you go hungry at the Folk School, it’s your own picky fault.  Fresh vegetables from the Folk School garden abound at every meal, and local farmers provide fresh meat.  Everything is made from scratch.

And, of course, there are the classes.  There’s a huge variety of classes to choose from—blacksmithing, storytelling, Ukrainian egg decorating, botanical watercolors, weaving, mountain dulcimer, stained glass, basketry, cooking—well, I could go on and on.  The point is there is a lot to choose from, and the classes are taught by the very best.

Morris dance at JCCFS

Rob took his third blacksmithing class and turned out most of our Christmas presents in addition to a gorgeous pot rack and copper spoons for me. 

I took storytelling with Elizabeth Ellis and learned that while story telling is vastly different from story writing, I have a deep love of language and story and tradition that can be expressed in more ways than I had even imagined.  My mind is wild with excitement for all the new ways I might share my stories with others.

Elizabeth Ellis

I’m not sure what my Pap would think about the fact that he’s become a recurring figure in so much of my work or that stories about him have moved people to fits of laughter and quiet tears.  All I know is that every time I leave the Folk School, I have a renewed sense of pride in the people who raised me, and my love grows exponentially (though I did not know that was possible). 

Maybe it’s a level of comfort and ease about one’s self that comes with the passing years, but I find that the older I get, the more I embrace the old ways of my grandparents and the colorful characters that dotted the landscape of my childhood.  It’s not that I didn’t embrace them before.  They have always been in my mind and heart, but I find myself turning more and more to that way of thinking—to those values, which have been passed down to me through story, song, and craft, and which, I hope, to pass along to my children and anyone else who will listen.

Thanks for being such good listeners.