Last night, home was this itty bitty tent on a Virginia mountain ridge, so when I woke up this morning, this was my front yard:
I needed a mountain weekend, in a sincere and desperate way. I left Raleigh Saturday morning in a grey mist, and truth be known, I was feeling like I’d been shattered with a hammer, and then taped back together.
Nothing for it, really, but lots of music in the car, and taking winding roads all the way up into the mountains, the backwoods farm country kind. I didn’t see the interstate once. By the time I got this far,
I was breathing easy.
I accidentally ended up on The Crooked Road. It’s on my Life List. I need to go back and drive the whole thing, maybe this fall, but it was a pretty good start.
I stopped everywhere that looked interesting along the way, at every country store and farm stand and scenic overlook. You never know what you’ll find, from seeds to a BLT at a general store, which the nice lady behind the counter will deliver to you out on the porch.
I got to this sign and wanted to ask, “Why? When? Who?” but there was nobody there except a bunch of guys on Harleys. They waved. But they didn’t look like they were willing to sit me down and tell me a long story about Appalachian heartbreak. Or whatever this is. I’ll let it be a mystery.
The directions to Tracy and Gregg’s mountaintop said things like, “You’ll have to cross a couple of streams” and “you might want to build up a good head of steam for a couple of the hills” and “when you clear the trees, veer left so you don’t drive off the cliff to your right.” Those are my kind of directions. And they weren’t kidding.
It was way, way up there. And when I crested the hill, this is what I saw: two or three hundred assorted friends and music lovers, and this sweet little barn,
and an even sweeter stage.
I immediately made friends with my campsite neighbors, and we established pretty early on that I had extra beer and they had extra breakfast pies, so it was a win-win. They taught me words like “thrillbilly” and “power hippie,” and I convinced them to take their new tent with a screened in porch, I almost died of envy, up to Acadia next summer to camp where you can hear the ocean. After that I went for a hike through the lower pastures. It was okay, if you like this kind of thing:
and hell yes, I do. It wasn’t so much a hike as a slow, rambling wander. I felt like I went miles and miles, but I could hear the bands sound checking, and people off skeet shooting, the whole time. I only stopped when I ran out of pasture, and realized I was being watched by some humorless cows in the shade.
There was general carrying on, all evening: an epic potluck, and an opening band, and little girls in tutus and Johnny Cash t-shirts dancing by the stage. When the sun started to set,
people hiked up to the crest of the hill, where there was nothing but rolling farm fields and mountain views and golden light in every direction. Yarn was up there waiting. They were playing “Shine Your Light,” just as the sun slipped down behind the hills.
The sky lit up like this…..oh wait! Fire on the Mountain. Or maybe the Fire on the Mountain is the music. Or the wildflowers. Or the packs of contented dogs and kids roaming the pastures. Or the moonshine- I’m sure there was moonshine. Maybe the fireworks, which went off before Yarn did a full-on, throw-down set on the stage? Or the meteor shower which the hosts had clearly pre-arranged?
The music went on late into the night. I didn’t last till it was over (see previous post, in which I say the word sleep at least fifteen times) but I drifted in and out through Yarn’s last set, loving every bit of being sung to sleep by a fabulous band.
Sleeping on the ground, of course, is good for the soul. Sure, you may be a little achy; maybe you forgot a pillow, maybe the temperature is in the mid fifties and you needed two or three more layers to stay warm, but who’s to complain about being cold in August? Not this girl. There’s something about lying on the earth, listening to the wind blowing through the fields of wildflowers, which will put you back together. After a night stretched out under the mountain stars, I feel less scotch-taped and more sound and solid, like the gaps have been sealed and the empty places have been filled in.
Everything about it was great, but this was my favorite thing: this perfect tree, with this perfect rope swing, with this perfect view. I tried it out just before sunset, and during those few minutes on the swing I would swear I grew younger,
by exactly one summer.