Saturday, July 08, 2006

west virginia, by god!

from childhood into my early twenties, i would tell my folks that one day i'd settle down somewhere in the heart of west virginia. my reasoning: west virginia was the one state i knew that was entirely mountainous. i still love that country, and after spending a night in morgantown, i am also in love with its cities. although morgantown is a little more northern than i've ever been comfortable with, i was surprised to find how much i liked it.

at common ground, i was among a few other folks from wv and ky who were "ambassadors" from central appalachia. we spent a lot of time discussing and explaining mountaintop removal to concerned, conscientious folks. i spent one day of my film class showing films about coal sludge spills and floods. i was glad to share these stories with such a captive and caring audience, but i found it emotionally and even physically exhausting. i got so homesick, that even when showing these awful images of coal companies, those images nearly knocked me over with intense yearning to be back home. it's times like these jean ritchie lyrics swell inside me, like the l&n don't stop here anymore:

"Never thought I'd ever live to love that coal dust
Never thought I'd pray to hear those tipples roar"

the best thing i brought back from common ground was learning how to do the charleston from the amazing rhiannon giddens, who we all decided must be channelling an ancestor when she gets to doing that dance.

nearly half my drive home i was bouncing with the bow-legged charleston groove while i drove. my plans for this weekend (after working in the garden, of course) are to put on some old records and charleston myself dizzy on the kitchen dance floor.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Do I really sound like that?

I'm spending a week in Maryland, teaching at Common Ground. Here's a couple of things that really strike me when I'm far away from home:

* I can suddenly hear how my voice sounds when I speak.
* My accent seems to get deeper, and I fall into using a language that is out of place here, but transplants me back home as I speak.

What I'm wondering is:

* Do I really speak with a thicker accent when I'm out of my element and surrounded by people who do not speak like my homefolks OR is it that I'm more conscious of my way of speaking when I'm dropped into a group of people who don't speak the way I do?

Last night I called neigbor Billy Joe under the pretense of checking in on my furry house critters. Really, I was just calling to hear my neigbor's voice and chat for a little about the little things we always talk about: the weather, the animals, the garden, the work that needs doing and how nice it's been to see so many good friends this summer. After giving me an update on Bella's activities (she's been camping out with the Judy Branch pack the past couple of nights), Billy Joe figured the real reason behind my call:

I was feeling homesick for Judy Branch.