Thursday, May 27, 2010

Looking Up from Under

Don’t ask me why, I just love looking up from underneath. And so you will find me continuously gazing up through a tree’s leaves, crouching under the shrubs and bushes, peering up through every treed blossom I can find. Light looks different from the underside. Leaves and flower petals look more translucent, more delicate. Small veining emerges. Colors are changed and muted. The color of sky and clouds become backdrop. Orange looks one way against blue and another against green. Perhaps I should think more profoundly about why I love this perspective—or maybe not. Maybe it is enough just to say: I love looking up from under.

Sanders Cafe

Sanders Café: the first

Whether you love Kentucky Fried Chicken or not, the Sanders Café is a must if you’re driving down highway 75 in southern Kentucky. This is the home of the first KFC, the enterprise that started with a social security check and the entrepenurial skills of Harlan Sanders, otherwise known as Colonel Sanders. Here you can order anything off the KFC menu and eat it at the well-worn tables of the original serving site. Here one will be surrounded by a museum of KFC memorabilia, including the original kitchen, tables and chairs, cash register, hutches, weather vane, and more. The restaurant was part of a small motel and The Colonel advertised his rooms by setting one up at the restaurant. He believed that if “Mom” could see how clean and well-done the rooms were, they would gladly take their family there to stay. The motel and restaurant served many people traveling through. The Colonel had a long career in business, owning an oil distributership, even running for the Senate. His legacy, however, started with less than $200. (one Social Security check) and a lot of hard work. His franchises continue to thrive and the chicken’s still good. Nobody yet knows what’s in its “11 herbs and spices.”

Cumberland Falls

There is a beautiful spot where the Cumberland River falls over a rocky ledge and where a moon bow glows in the full moon. Preserved in a state park, the falls continue to draw many to its peaceful setting. Trails and rocky overhangs, ferns and lichen, water and sky, and the eerily beautiful moon bow are a little treasure with magic all their own.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Festival of Nations

Festival of Nations

We saw the ad for “Drum,” a group from Nova Scotia celebrating the many cultures of that province with drumming, song and dance. The thundering drums convinced us that we just had to visit the annual Festival of Nations at Dollywood. We were not disappointed. So we made our second trip to Pigeon Forge in three months, this time to celebrate music, dance, story, and food from around the world. We listened to Zambian acapella harmonies, watched Peruvian folk dances, gasped at the Chinese acrobats, chilled to Ecuadoran flutes, and sat enthralled by the drumming and story of Drum. Two days of international culture in arts and cuisine were exactly what these two travelers needed.

Redbud Festival

Redbud Festival

Spring is official when the redbud bloom and the Redbud Festival comes to Barbourville. The Festival takes place on the Union College grounds, Union being a venerable old United Methodist school. This annual event draws quilters and crafters from throughout the area. Fortunately our day on the grounds was sunny, blue sky-ed, and the redbud were in full bloom—right on schedule. We enjoyed viewing the quilts (I even bought a package of fabric squares to make a “charm quilt”), purchased some glass mosaic tiles for our gardens, talked to crafters, ate barbecue, and enjoyed the early promise of spring.

Appalachian Winter

Appalachian Winter

How does one tell the story of a winter that lasted too long and brought a lot of misery? I’m told that the winter of 09-10 was unusual—unusually long, unusually snowy, unusual for sickness and death and distress. I don’t know; it’s been my only mountain winter but I’ll take their word for it.
We had six major snowfalls of several inches each. Each one brought the schools to a standstill and made driving on the mountain roads treacherous. School was out for most of January because of road conditions. I’m thankful we made it through winter without hitting a guardrail or another car or going off a road. Alan had a lot of fun plowing and blowing snow at Red Bird; he seemed to be one of the few enjoying the snow! However, we discovered there is also a great stark beauty to winter here. All the little rivulets and streams of water froze as they tumbled over rock ledges. The roadsides were edged with frozen waterfalls of all sizes, widths and lengths. I called them frozen music and could never get enough of looking at them.
A wet snow knocked out electricity for five days just before Christmas. Although we slept at our house in 40 degree temps, the clinic had a generator and I could go to work like normal. Alan worked on generators, blew snow, & helped in other tasks. A few slept in the mission guest rooms; we all took meals together and worked to cook up our quickly rotting food on a camp stove. The experience redefined the term “Red Bird Family.” Fortunately, most had left the campus for Christmas in other parts and those remaining survived the week. We were mighty glad to get power just in time for Christmas Eve services and other celebrations.
Unfortunately, winter brought sickness and death to people we love. Two friends were diagnosed with serious cancers, friends just too young and vibrant for such a thing. Another friend was hospitalized and struggled all winter to breathe. In January our lab tech’s husband was killed in a coal mining accident. A safety violation left unrepaired, a 29 year old husband and father crushed to death by coal, and the clinic and community were left in mourning. We still grieve for the young widow, Pam, and her three year old son.
So winter settled long and hard in these mountains. Everybody endured, or course, but all were anxious for the first signs of spring.

Little Winters

The big winter is followed by a series of little winters. These little winters appear after the days have begun to warm but are interrupted by cool days with night temperatures that reach down toward freezing. They are named after the plants that might be blooming at that time and appear in this order: Sarvice Berry Winter, Red Bud Winter, Dogwood Winter, and Blackberry Winter. Hopefully there aren’t any more cold snaps than that. One may need to cover their plants during one of these ‘winters’ but they’re never very threatening and are soon gone.