If allergies are the price we pay for the beauty of the East Tennessee Mountains, I’m not complaining – not too much, anyway. I went back to Lenoir City to work with the very talented writer/ illustrator Nancy, and the drive was even more resplendent with the colors of spring than it was three days earlier. The redbuds were in full bloom lining long swaths of Highway 68 from Tellico Plains to Interstate Seventy-Five. It’s all I could do not to jump out with a shovel and dig a few up for our driveway.
The drive wasn’t nearly as much fun, though, without Mountain Mary to play Lucy/Ethel with me; but I also didn’t get myself lost. I had our GPS and paid attention to were I was going because I didn’t have Mary’s tales of her horses, grandkids, and mission trips to entertain me.
Nancy lives in what she refers to as her (and her husband’s) “Sanctuary” near a lovely campground called the “Cross-Eyed Cricket.” The adventures in enjoying Nancy’s work begin with adorable illustrations on the campground signs; a cuter cricket you’ll probably never see. Her home is filled with beautiful artwork, mostly of her and her sister’s design. All of this partially prepares one for the delights that Nancy has tucked away in binders and booklets all neatly stored in her writer’s room.
Mary and I had been enthralled by Nancy when we paid her our first visit. She generously shared many of her poems with us, not just by letting us read them; she read to us in her musical, magical voice. It has often been said that poetry must be read aloud to truly be enjoyed; so much better if the voice reading it is the creator of the “voice.”
Nancy’s work is a walk through whimsy, wonder, and woe; but the woe is never depressing. Instead, it’s uplifting with the use of scripture, sweetness, and a bit of silliness to always indicate hope and joy. Her illustrations are of little old people, merry mice, bouncing babies, wonderful wildflowers, and all manner of Creation’s gifts. Her words reflect what she calls her faith journey that she has been on for over thirty years, but never in an evangelizing way. From her richly written Nan-o-Grams for her grandchildren to her reflections on death and dying, her work is full of grace, wit, and the wisdom that only experience can impart. I left Nancy’s so excited to be able to assist her that I fairly floated home.
My “Wonderful Wichard” was busily putting together Beef Bourguignon when I arrived at home. Mountaintop Mary and her husband Don were scheduled to come over for Mary to try out our scanner for working with Jack’s stories. (She had a newer “improved” scanner that had been “improved” by deleting an important text recognition feature.) Richard offered to cook, so we had them stay for a meal of one of Richard’s super salads, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and the fragrant and fabulous burgundy beef.
How many blessings should one be allowed to stuff into one day?