Sunday, April 18, 2010

Appalachia Awakening

The appeal of Appalachia is everywhere in the spring. All along the highway, the stages of earth awakening are absolutely breathtaking. It almost makes up for the difficult winter when we remember that the worse the winter the more spectacular the spring.

Although our early spring is almost over in Coker Creek, going north to Louisville, I was able to do spring all over in a backward progression. By the time I got to Berea, spring was barely breathing its first breath. The leaves weren’t yet in evidence on many varieties of trees, and the redbuds were still in their baby stages of blooming.

All this splendor growing out of the rocks and into the gorges put it in my mind that God must have created the Appalachias to have a permanent place for all these species of trees. We can’t cut down what we can’t climb to.

Berea is beautiful, no matter the season; it’s where I first saw, many years ago, the winter wonderland of ice-encrusted trees. There are signs everywhere proclaiming the presence of the arts in this area. I do wonder if the creative energy in places like Berea and Coker Creek is a result of all that waiting as winter tamps down activity, bursting forth into music, song, painting, pottery, textile, and all the other arts at which these artists excel.

Going toward Lexington, the mountains give way to the rolling hills of horse country. While the fenced and groomed pastureland is beautiful, especially when the horses are out on the greens, I still prefer the cradle of trees surrounding our holler home.

How fortunate I’ve been this spring to have the freedom to travel, experiencing the earth’s awakening from the flat Gulf Coast to the higher altitudes of the Appalachias!

Girl reporter Susan’s new home is in a suburb of Louisville, and backs up onto pristine forest land. I was greeted as I exited my van with the sights of the woods and the smells of home cooking. I already felt at home.

We had her house all to ourselves, as her husband was out with their daughter. We reminisced about our days together in pre-Katrina New Orleans, and made plans for future creative pursuits as partners in writing projects. We met at a writers’ group in New Orleans and both still have strong ties in the area, including each having a son there.

Scheming and dreaming, we had a wonderful herb-roasted chicken, sautéed crimini mushroom caps, and spicy stir-fried greens with sweet red peppers and onions. Susan is a great cook, and was my partner in a cookbook that never made it to the publisher. How nice it was for her to, not only cook for me, but to remember that I’m doing Atkins.

No matter how many years or how many moves have conspired to separate us geographically, friends don’t get any closer than this. I am one lucky lady.

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